Pairing: Charlie Weasley/Neville Longbottom
Challenge: First Date Challenge, by zemblanity. Character #15 – Charlie Weasley; quote – "Men don't like to cuddle. We only like it if it leads to... you know... lower cuddling."
Beta: Chloe, at Perfect Imagination. Straightforward and thorough, it was all the aid I needed to make this the piece I'm so very proud of.
Summary:Charlie is not quite used to strong-minded lovers—or gentle, caring, righteous beings like Neville. He happens to enjoy the change. Neville—not so much.
Warnings: Foul language; implicit sexual relationship between two males – slash; spoilers; AR.
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended – Standard disclaimer.
Notes: Just for you to know, JKR stated in a NPR radio interview that Neville is blonde, which is why I used it here. I don't remember reading that, but I try to be consistent with the books. On another note, QCA—you'll know when you get there—stands for Quidditch Club of Ardeal, a Romanian Quidditch team I invented. Which means it's mine: if you want to use it, you'll need a disclaimer. Ha! *struts away proudly*
A First Date
Charlie Weasley had long ago realised he was a complete pushover when it came to his family. He accepted it. There was nothing he could do about it, and he liked to think he managed to compensate for his lack of backbone towards freckled, red-haired people by being a rather badass dragonologist. He had scars and muscles to prove how much of a man he was. And if, by any chance, his little sister, nine years his junior, managed to bully him into being her delivery boy—well, nobody needed to know that.
"Ah, Charlie!" exclaimed Harry Potter, running towards him, breathless, but with a grin on his lips. "Thanks, mate. I'd forgotten those. I hope Gin didn't give you a hard time because of this."
'Ah, dearest brother-in-law! One would think you haven't met the monster truck you're married to,' Charlie thought, almost pitying Harry; aloud, he said, "Oh, it was no problem at all, Harry. I'm on holiday, after all. I have nothing better to do."
Harry laughed heartedly. "Thanks, anyway. This case has been driving me nuts, and Ron isn't much better."
Charlie flicked his tongue in sympathy, not really feeling sorry for Harry, since he was the one who dared to impregnate his little sister, thus turning her into a monster of raging hormones, rivalled only by Molly Weasley during one of her past pregnancies. Still, Charlie was a practical man; so, when he opened he opened his mouth, he was planning on saying something witty, charming and persuasive enough to have Harry set him up with one of the nice blokes in the Auror Office.
However, Charlie was interrupted before he even said a word.
Charlie looked over Harry's shoulder to see a tall dumb-looking blonde with a broad chest and a healthy tan, making his way towards them. He was wearing a happy smile and carrying something on his hands that looked awfully like a root of hellebore inside a threadbare bag.
Harry grinned back. "Neville!"
The blonde put the root down, and he and Harry embraced like long-term friends. That's when Charlie realised he was actually in presence of Neville Longbottom, war hero and herbologist extraordinaire, the only other true wielder of the Gryffindor Sword—besides Harry Potter—of their generation. His impression of the subdued man improved tenfold. Harry broke the embrace and turned sideways. "This is Charlie; you know, Ginny's older brother."
Neville flashed Charlie a smile and held out his hand, which he took, pleasantly impressed.
"I know you, of course," Neville said, smiling shyly. Then he quickly turned away from Charlie and focused his attention on Harry. "I can't believe I was lucky enough to run into you. How's the future mum? And how are you?"
Harry flushed, looking entirely too pleased with himself for planting his seed where it had no business in being planted. "She's wonderful. We're wonderful—it's a boy, did you know that?" Neville cooed appropriately and patted Harry's back one too many times. "And you? What are you doing here?"
Neville and Harry continued their happy chatting, and Charlie patiently waited for a chance to bid them goodbye and get out of this place with too many blank walls and freezing halls. It was a slightly claustrophobic environment. Then, his trained ear caught something.
"—the Dragon Wildlife Reserve in Romania! It's ridiculous!" Neville threw his hands in the air in frustration. "They're going to destroy the last natural habitat of hellebore, and they know we can't replicate its natural environment in laboratory. But do they care? No, they don't, and they think their money can buy nature's laws. I swear—"
Harry looked actually interested in what Neville was saying; no doubt it had something to do with Harry's despise for lobbyists, but once in a while he glanced at Charlie amusedly, obviously enjoying the coincidence. Charlie's organisation was the one building the wildlife reserve for the Romanian Longhorn, an endangered dragon species.
"Excuse me, Neville," Charlie began, a bit peeved about the poor opinion the herbologist had about him. "I work for the Romanian Dragon Sanctuary, and we were assured there are perfect replacements for hellebore in potions and draughts."
Neville's eyes widened in surprise and then narrowed suspiciously. "Then, you were assured wrong. I've sent dozens of reports to your organisation and I've had no reply."
Charlie managed to maintain his aloofness, which was quite a feat considering he had been the one who had deliberately dismissed the Herbology Guild's reports. It was a common joke among magizoologists that the Guild was a geeky association with no concern whatsoever for animated creatures, magical or otherwise. With a cringe, he remembered all the jokes he had made about the rather intense relationship between Phyllida Spore and his Devil's Snare.
Neville must have come close to guessing what Charlie was thinking about, because he threw a haughty glare in Charlie's direction while clenching his jaw, and turned towards Harry again.
"Well, Harry, I have a meeting in St. Mungo's."
Harry nodded, with a gleam in his eyes that told Charlie his family would never let him live this down.
"We must catch up again soon. I'm supposed to return to my mastery in the beginning of the term and I'd like to see Ginny, Ron and Hermione before that." Neville acquired a thoughtful expression. "Maybe I'll get Luna to come, too."
"Oh, yes. Let's do that." Harry seemed to forget about all about Charlie and agreed enthusiastically. They embraced again and Neville left without as much as a glance in Charlie's direction. Harry sent Charlie a meaningful glance, mischievousness glinting in his eyes.
"You just angered Neville Longbottom." He paused. "In the almost fifteen years we've known each other, not even Ron managed to do that."
"You should have seen Neville's face when Charlie said he worked for the Dragon Sanctuary," Harry was saying during supper. "Remember that day when Malfoy almost caught the DA? It was the same." Ron and Ginny snickered, and Charlie proceeded to ignore them. "Except now he's all tall and bulky and it's far scarier when sweet Neville gets that expression on his face."
Ron elbowed Charlie in the ribs, in what he must have thought was a friendly manner. Charlie refrained from wincing. Really, it was a sad day when your baby brothers got taller than you.
"I would watch my back, bro. The last thing we want is you bleeding and left for dead in a dark alley, after being attacked by the secret organisation of herbologists."
Charlie cracked a smile. "Imagine if they knew I was the one who failed all their reports." The four of them laughed. Charlie decided the time was as good as any other, and casually asked, "This Neville, is he gay?" Silence met his words, as everyone looked at Charlie as if he had lost his mind, which made Charlie rather smug, because apparently he still could shock his family speechless.
Finally, Ginny spoke, "He is, and he's single, too." Just as Charlie was reviewing his arguments to make them set him up with one of their friends—something they always refused to do—the young woman proceeded, "He's not your type, though. He actually enjoys knowing the name of his bed partner—"
"He knows my name," Charlie pointed out, leaning back in his chair carelessly.
"He likes cuddling," Ginny continued as if he hadn't spoken, "and flowers and candlelit dinners—"
"Sorry to disappoint you, baby sister," Charlie interrupted, "but men don't like cuddling. We only like it when if it leads to—you know, lower cuddling." Ron outright laughed at that, but Charlie refrained from developing his thesis, because Ginny looked positively murderous, and, although Charlie wouldn't admit it, he'd rather not deal with a Bat-Bogey Hex as he ate—or ever, as a matter of fact.
After dinner, Ron threw a fit for having to go home to an empty flat, making everyone roll their eyes at him. Hermione was on some sort of corporate retreat and Ron was always terribly needy when he was Hermione-sick. Seemingly losing their patience, Ginny and Harry told him he could crash on their sofa for the day, and the three of them got ready to leave. While Ron was helping Ginny put on her coat, Charlie pulled Harry to the outside porch.
"Come on, mate, put in a good word for me," Charlie began persuasively.
Harry looked at him seriously. "The reason I don't totally oppose this is because I know Neville has been feeling lonely since he broke up with his boyfriend."
Charlie mentally whooped; he knew, by Harry's behaviour during dinner and the several days before, that he had been considering the opportunity to set Neville up since they had met at the Ministry.
"Seriously now, Charlie, Neville doesn't fool around."
Charlie smirked predatorily. "Just tell me where he's staying and we'll see about that."
"No, Harry, come on," Neville protested, "Why did you have to do that?"
Harry shrugged and took a bite of his lasagne. "You said you wanted a date, I got you date."
Neville fidgeted with his napkin and looked out of the window, to the lively Diagon Alley. "Yeah, but I didn't mean Charlie Weasley. I mean, he practically had a sign on his forehead saying 'sex god'!" That had come out a bit louder than was probably intended, and several other clients were looking at them oddly. Harry blushed in embarrassment, which made Neville blush, too. "Sorry, mate."
Harry waved him off, with a smile. Then his gaze steeled and Neville knew he was going to hear another lecture about his choice in men. "If you think he's that attractive, and he wants to go out with you, I don't see why you're being such a prude." Neville sputtered indignantly, but Harry wasn't through, "He obviously thinks you're attractive, too." Neville blushed and denied it half-heartedly. "Besides, it's just a date, and I assure you one date with Charlie Weasley is a whole hell of a lot better than a full relationship with that Smith bastard."
There wasn't much Neville could say to that, so he ate his cannelloni sullenly.
"'Lo, Neville," Charlie greeted, as soon as Neville opened the door to his rented flat. Try as he might, Charlie couldn't help his gaze from sweeping up and down Neville from the blue button-down shirt, to the snug grey pinstriped trousers, passing by the stylised hair.
Neville blushed, obviously uncomfortable under such intense scrutiny. "Come in," he invited shyly, leading Charlie into his living room.
Charlie lost some time assessing the small flat, noticing the simple yet sturdy furniture and the invasion of stirring plants. Really, Charlie had never a very good relationship with moving vegetation and he didn't plan on starting now, no matter how cute Neville was.
"Can I offer you something to drink?" Neville asked, catching Charlie's attention.
Charlie shook his head. "No, thank you. Why? Aren't you ready?"
Neville mumbled that yes, he was ready, and started to put on his jacket. Charlie, ever the gentleman, stalked forwards to help him with a seductive smirk, not noticing the Angel's Trumpet resting next to the couch. So Charlie knocked the vase, which broke with a resound crash and left soil spread all over the floor. Charlie tripped on the moist dirt, got tangled in the flower's roots and fell on his arse.
Neville yelled in shock, then hastened forwards. "You've cut yourself," Neville told Charlie with a concerned frown on his face, quickly shedding his jacket and Summoning a dry cloth from the kitchen. He wrapped it around Charlie's bleeding hand and helped Charlie, who was damning the world's flora to hell and back, towards the sofa.
Neville pulled the kitchen cloth backwards gently to see the state of the injury. Charlie let him fuss, almost dying of mortification. 'Smooth, Charlie, really smooth,' he thought dryly.
"Let's get you to the kitchen; I can see better there." In the white light of the kitchen, Neville put Charlie's hand under the water to wash off any broken glass and dirt and wrapped his hand in another piece of cloth. The Angel's Trumpet spores had infiltrated the flesh, quickly infecting the wound. "I'll get the first-aid kit."
Several minutes later, Charlie's hand was properly cleaned up and healed with the aid of some spells, had been safely bandaged, and Neville was cleaning his living room manually. "I'm sorry about your flower," Charlie said lamely. "I can get you a new one."
"Don't worry about it," Neville dismissed with a gentle smile.
Charlie felt even worse. "But they're so rare," he protested.
Neville gave him a confused look. "Yes, they are, but you don't have to replace it. It was an accident; I'm not going to hold you responsible for it," Neville informed him, matter-of-factly. Then he proceeded to wave his wand between them, casting a Cleaning Charm to clean their clothes, all the while humming pleasantly.
Charlie felt like an idiot and that hadn't happened in a considerable amount of time. "Do you want to reschedule?"
Neville looked surprised. "Why? Do you?"
Charlie shrugged. "No, actually not."
"Then, let's go. Lucky us, we don't need a reservation. My friend Hannah is the owner of the restaurant where we're going." Charlie returned Neville's blinding smile and gladly took his arm for Side-Long Apparition.
As it turned out, that first accident would be a harbinger of the rest of their date . . .
"So," Neville began, as soon as the waitress left with their orders. "Did you ever plan on telling me you were the bastard who denied my multiple reports about hellebore's natural habitat?" Neville asked casually, taking a sip of his wine.
Charlie, who had been taking a bite of his cracker with cheese, trying to look sensual and appealing, promptly choked. Neville didn't laugh while he patted Charlie's back as he coughed the last bits of cracker out of his lungs. Afterwards, Charlie downed the contents of his glass while Neville retook his seat, looking rather satisfied with himself.
"I'm not sure if I should feel flattered or offended by the letter I received yesterday from the Dragon Sanctuary, telling me—in very polite terms, I might add—they were going to hire a herbologist to supervise the expansion of the reserve." Neville pierced Charlie with his earnest gaze. "I would rather have to fight the Magizoology Guild single-handed than have you approve my request just because you want to get into my pants."
After that, Charlie didn't quite know what to say in his defence—hell, he didn't even want to. Everything Neville had said was the purest of truths: Charlie had made fun of the Herbology Guild constantly, he still thought his jokes were funny, and the only reason he had owled his underlings about Neville's reports was because he was rather smitten.
He sighed, giving the night for lost. But, try as he might not to say anything else that could endanger the happy ending of their evening, he had to make sure Neville felt less like he had been disrespected.
"For what's worth, I wouldn't have accepted your request if I didn't actually think you were right," Charlie tried.
Neville just pursed his lips disapprovingly—probably biting back the argument even Charlie could conjure: Charlie had only read the report because he thought Neville was hot—but looked away and didn't reply. That was when the waitress returned with their orders.
After that, Charlie felt so forlorn that Neville must have noticed it and, always half-Hufflepuff even as an adult, took pity on him. "So, I heard the QCA is going to the EuroCup finals this weekend, against Puddlemere United. That must exciting for you—"
After several hours of mild talking about Quidditch, hobbies, family and friends, and careful avoidance of any mention of work, Charlie walked Neville to his flat, completely bypassing any invitation for a drink at a local pub—for some reason, he thought Neville would laugh in his face if he actually asked. He was still feeling rather disappointed with how the evening had gone. He didn't show it, of course, and remained playful and chivalrous throughout the night, but inside he was aching—and not only physically, which was always a rather distracting affliction. He found himself really liking Neville, his gentle straightforwardness, courage and heroism—even if it was for a hellish plant. A Hufflepuff soul with a Gryffindor's heart.
"Thanks for walking me home," Neville said, pulling Charlie from his thoughts.
Charlie gave him a lopsided grin. "My pleasure, Neville." He leaned forward and kissed Neville's cheek, and lingered for a moment, squeezing Neville's arm reassuringly—trying to convey that he wouldn't ask for anything more. Neville smelt so good, of lemons and peaches and floral fragrances and his skin was so soft and warm that Charlie felt the familiar stirrings of arousal course through him. He pulled back before he could get overly excited.
Neville's cheeks were appropriately flushed when Charlie stepped away, and he spared him a shy smile, which Charlie found absolutely delectable. Then Neville looked at him—really looked, as if he was pulling Charlie's soul from his body in order to keep it safely locked away inside himself, to keep Charlie from damaging it, and promising to hold it always. The invitation was blatant in his hazel eyes, and Charlie leaned forward hesitantly.
Their lips met in a hesitant kiss. They moved against each other, just touching for the pleasure of touching, and Charlie thought he had never felt as close to heaven as in that moment. Then Neville opened his mouth, prompting Charlie to take what was being given, and Charlie felt once again his pre-conceptions being shattered: this was heaven. He pushed Neville against the door with a groan and pressed their bodies together; it was hot and exciting and, soon, they were thrusting against each other's thighs right in the middle of Neville's hallway, while groping each other eagerly through their clothes.
For someone like Charlie, who fell in love with different people every week and sex was like oxygen, to be willing to fall on his knees and beg for it after just a kiss—well, it was saying something.
They drew back when a muffled crash sounded in the hallway, most likely coming from one of the other flats. Neville looked dazed for a moment, before he stared at Charlie. "I'm staying in London for another two months," he said at last, obviously having felt the raw magic just as Charlie had. Charlie nodded, since he already knew that. "Maybe we could meet again Friday night?" Neville phrased it as a question, looking hopefully at his date.
Charlie all but melted—and whooped in relief: Neville wanted him, too. "I'd like that. We could go clubbing; how does that sound?"
Neville grinned, and pecked Charlie's lips once more, curling his arms around his waist. "Brilliant!"
"Here—let me take this," Charlie said gallantly, taking Neville's trunk off his hands, as they entered Charlie's loft in Romania. "Do you want me to show you around?"
Neville huffed at the exaggerated thoughtfulness in fond exasperation, shrugging off his coat, and draping it over the sofa. "I'd rather unpack first, if that's okay?" He hesitated. "Where's the bedroom?"
Charlie's grin was borderline predatory. "That's a trip I want to take with you, darling." Predictably, Neville threw him a half-hearted glare, even though his cheeks coloured slightly. Charlie held up his hands in surrender, and gestured towards the running doors on the farthest corner of the main room.
Neville picked up his trunk and motioned there, Charlie following him closely. "I know you're here to work—you told me so often enough—but you're mine outside working hours and we're outside working hours now, which means I get to do this—" Charlie pulled Neville against him, and kissed him hotly, slowly moving downwards, towards his neck, his hands coming up to cup Neville's rear.
"Your subordinates should be here any moment to meet your new—oh!—herbologist. I'd rather they see me as a professional—" Neville breathed, hot and lightheaded, but he didn't push Charlie away.
"They will; you know that," Charlie reassured him, pressing himself further into Neville, addressing a subject that needed to be addressed. "They're also my friends, and I wanted to introduce you as my partner." Neville stammered something that sounded like denial. "I'm rather fond of you, Nev. Please, just accept that I'd do anything for you—sexual favours included."
With an exasperated roll of his eyes and a small smile, Neville curled his arms around Charlie's shoulders, finally giving in. "Your sister did tell me to keep you on short leash, but I don't insist on having them knowing about our relationship. And you know I trust you—I love you."
It still made Charlie's breath hitch when he heard Neville saying things like that. It was all so damn new to him, having been with someone for the past year and still never wanting to let go. And to know Neville meant every word he said . . . Charlie pushed Neville onto the bed, covered his body with his own and snogged him until they are both hot and bothered, panting softly in desire.
Charlie leisurely nipped on Neville's lips, nose and ears, nuzzling him lovingly. "I do insist on them knowing about us, though. What if any of them thinks they can throw a pass at you? You're quite fetching, love." Neville chuckled softly and allowed Charlie to ravish him.
Thank you for reading.
This turned out just the way I wanted it, and I love it. Review? Please?