Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
For the Hogwarts Online prompt of the day: pumpkin juice.
So I've been dying to write this pairing for ever ever ever and I've finally just got a muse for it. I hope you're not totally disgusted by me. It's all Ellie's fault for mentioning them that I've fallen in love with Charlie & Gabrielle. (: I hope this fic isn't horrible!
Also, please pardon my French. It's the online translator's fault if anything's wrong! (; And by the way, Gabrielle's birthday is unknown, so I've taken the liberty of making it January third. (:
Listen to: Lucky by Jason Mraz & Colbie Caillat
you hold me right here right now
they don't know how long it takes, waiting for a love like this
every time we say goodbye, I wish we had one more kiss
(Jason Mraz & Colbie Caillat)
And so it begins with a simple cup half-full of pumpkin juice.
Gabrielle Delacour is eleven-years-old as she sits lonely at a table her older sister's wedding, her heels clacking against the wooden dance floor and her dress horribly much too flouncy and fabulous to be sitting on her arse at a wedding, of all things.
She gazes about the party, blinded by red hair and freckles. Harry Potter is nowhere to be soon-no matter, he doesn't seem to fall for her seductive gazes. Her sister is floating about, her arms wrapped around that Bill character, and her mother and father are doing that gropey thing they do, and Gabrielle feels awfully old and weary to be stranded alone in a civilization of people.
Suddenly, a shiny burn-covered arm reaches over and snatches her pumpkin juice right off the table surface, disappearing for a few seconds before returning empty. "Excusez-moi, Monsieur," she snaps reflexively, "but what give you ze right to take my pom-kin jooz?"
Without answering, Charlie Weasley, dragon-chaser extraordinaire, plops down upon the empty chair beside her, looking extremely debonair and dangerous with his tuxedo sleeves rolled up to his elbows to reveal matching angry red scars running from his elbows to his wrists, and his hair spiked up every which way, glinting ginger in the orange sun. "Ze fact, Mademoiselle," he mocks, "that I'm hideously bored and you're the only woman here who is not related to me or from Hogwarts." His eyes are glazed over and his normally-pink face is terribly flushed, and young Gabrielle is suddenly aware that she is in the presence of a drunken Weasley.
"Ah, I zee, Monsieur," she notes, eyeing him carefully. "But you zee, what would be 'appening I 'ave poisoned zat drink?" Charlie's half-lidded eyes pop open, his eyebrow raising. "You zee, Monsieur, it eez not very clever to be ztealing young girls' drinks."
He smiles wordlessly. "And what, may I have the pleasure of knowing, is your name?"
Her fingers are pale as she holds out her hand, her eleven-year-old heart fluttering as he pressed his lips to her knuckles extremely platonically. "Gabrielle," she murmurs with nearly-closed lips, and she does believe that maybe if eleven-year-olds were able to fall in love with much-too-old men, then this would be how it felt like. "Gabrielle Delacour. And what may be yours, Monsieur?"
Charlie looks at her with life in his eyes. Wisdom. "Charlie Weasley," he says anticlimactically, proudly. "But you see, Gabrielle, I can never be quite too sure of that for I'm desperately inebriated due to the fact that I'm just a bit infatuated with a married woman now, officially."
The girl's flawless face falls. Another heart lost to her sister. "I understand," she grumbles bitterly. "It eez not very hard to fall for my sister, Fleur, now, eez it?" Charlie nods his head and raises her empty glass, putting it to his lips before realizing his mistake. "Ah, but I have not yet felt love's kiss, and I fear zat maybe I shall never find it in the shadow of her," Gabrielle admits, his intoxicated state floating into her.
"That can be arranged," Charlie whispers suddenly, and Gabrielle wonders if there's such a thing as love when you're drunk.
Suddenly, a loud, deep voice sounds in the middle of the party and their attention is disturbed for mere seconds as words she cannot understand ring through her ears. "The ministry has come. Scrimgeour is dead. They are coming." When she turns away Charlie has up and disappeared and she feels her father's grip upon her forearm. His words cannot be comprehended and there are people screaming all around her as they search desperately for Fleur and Bill and her mother and she feels extremely guilty that others are worried for their lives while she is only concerned that she'll never see Charlie again.
She does not see hide nor tail of any of the Weasleys or her sister for a torturous year spent friendless with her parents somewhere in Scotland, where they've gone into hiding in the mountains. She does not understand why on Earth they must be hiding when it is not as though the Dark Lord will want anything to do with them, and her father will always be able to protect them anyway because he is the strongest wizard in the world, is he not? Finally they get word that the war is over and they move back to France, and she finds her friends (although some, to this day, she is not sure whether some are still in hiding or have moved away or were simply killed) and sees how much her sister and new brother-in-law have grown. She befriends the Weasleys (but odd Ginny still gives her dirty looks once in a while) and begins a life, but elusive Charlie is never anywhere to be seen. No matter, it's not like anybody knows or suspects it and by then she's old enough to have realized that Charlie is fifteen years older than her and there's no such thing as love fifteen years apart.
Five years pass before she is able to meet him again.
Ronald is marrying that talkative girl, Her-something-or-other, and there are Weasleys for miles and miles surrounding the Burrow. It's a cruel and unusual punishment to force a poor sixteen-year-old quarter-veela to deal with millions of Weasley cousins and nephews and whatevers eager to add to the family tree but Gabrielle deals with a flick of her wrist and a roll of her ice-blue eyes because she hates to admit it, but she hasn't loved since that afternoon five years ago at her sister's wedding.
Gabrielle is lurking mopily through the upstairs corridors of the Burrow, peeking into rooms and avoiding anything ginger for the life of her. A familiar-sounding squeaky voice begins to echo up the stairs and she scrambles to escape another generation-starting Weasley, stumbling blindly when she slams into a wiry, rock-hard chest with warm fingers that grip her waist to steady her. "Sacre bleu! What must a fille accompleesh to be able to 'ave peez around 'ere?" she shrieks angrily, stamping her foot and pummeling a thin fist into the chest before looking up and blushing profusely. "Charlie?" she whispers incredulously.
"Um, hello. Gabrielle, is it?" Charlie asks, smiling down at her red cheeks and relievingly-not-red hair. "We-er-met at the wedding, right?"
"Correct!" she sings gleefully. He towers over her despite the fact that he's the shortest Weasley brother and he looks very tired and experienced and in that moment she feels dreadfully sixteen. "I bee-leev not that you 'ave ree-membered me. Oh, but you 'ave! Zat makes me tres, tres happy! You see, Monsieur Charlie, I 'ave been theenking about you."
"Really?" Charlie asks, his eyebrow raising and his curiosity getting the best of him, as it did when he first saw a dragon at age eight. "How so?"
Unexpectedly, Gabrielle feels butterflies in her stomach and heat on her face, nervousness flooding in like light through an open window. "Ah, well…" she mumbles, unfamiliar with this particular feeling. "I… I… I 'ear you like ze dragons, yes?" she lies, and hates herself for not being exactly like Fleur and taking charge, taking control, taking love.
Charlie smiles and she feels vindicated. "In fact, I do," he says, and sits down against the wall, his hands gesturing and his lips moving as she settles cross-legged across from him, for the very first time, satisfied by only words.
It is the middle of the night and Gabrielle is kept awake tossing and turning, the moonlight illuminating the carpet of the room she's sleeping in (Was it Ginny's? Maybe it was Ron's?) horribly. She cannot get images of roaring monsters and fire flaring out of shiny, scaled nostrils and red-haired men smiling with ears pierced and hands callused. Finally, she realizes that she is Gabrielle Antoinette Marguerite Delacour and she will take Charlie Weasley's heart for her own.
She stands and tip-toes through the hallway in her sheer nightgown, searching blindly for the room Charlie had mentioned he would be sleeping in. "Charlie?" she whispers, sweet voice breaking the ice of silence as she pushes open the door, wincing at the creak. She creeps into the room and stands, barefoot, in the middle of the shag carpet, staring at the stirring lump in the bed in the corner. "Charlie, eez zat you?" she asks, giddy and timid and terrified. What if she's caught the room of Ginny or George or Percy?
"Gabrielle?" a groggy mumble floats into her ears and she grins, moving to stand by him. She looks incredibly ghost-like and otherworldly in the blue light the moon casts. "What the hell… What are you doing here? What time is it?"
The sixteen-year-old blushes and gazes at him adoringly. "I am unsure of ze time, Monsieur Charlie," she explains quietly, "but I was unable to sleep, you zee, and I zought maybe you are awake? I guess I was meez-taken. I am très désolé, Monsieur Charlie." The red on her cheeks has spread to burn her ears, and she feels like a Weasley.
Charlie shrugs and stands, revealing a wrinkled t-shirt and plaid pajama bottoms. "'Sokay," he murmurs, stretching and yawning. "I couldn't sleep very well, either. Want to take a walk? I haven't been around home in ages."
"Oh, I would love a walk," she says, and Charlie nods and smiles, still sleepy. "But eet may be très cold outside, would eet be not?" She looks outside the window and finds December snow staring back at her.
"You can take my robe," Charlie offers, and hands her a ragged blue robe, tattered and frayed. Gabrielle takes it and examines the rough material, feeling the warmth radiate off of it. It has scars and mistakes and imperfections. "Is it okay?"
Gabrielle smiles like a child on Christmas day. "Eet eez perfect."
They have been walking for hours before they know it, in simple circles around the looming house. Charlie tells her stories of Norwegian Ridgebacks and Peruvian Vipertooths, and Gabrielle begins to understand being in love with these gigantic creatures. Finally, morning begins and the sun starts to rise above the mountains and the chickens begin to make noise.
"Well, that was a night well-spent," Charlie admits, his arm within such close proximity to the younger girl's that it is nearly touching hers. The tension between skin erupts and Gabrielle turns to him with stars in her eyes.
"Eet was, no?" she agrees eagerly. "Monsieur Charlie, I-"
Charlie interrupts her. "Call me Charlie. No more Monsieur. I'm thirty-one, I'm still young."
Gabrielle flushes and nods her head. "Oui, Charlie eet eez. Well, Charlie, I 'ave been longing to do zis for a ree-deek-you-lously long time, and I do bee-leev zat zis eez my last chance, so 'ere I will be doing eet." And without warning, Gabrielle stands, flings her arms around him, and begins to place her lips upon his.
Lightning-fast reflexes come in handy from dragon-chasing, and Charlie stops her gently, pushing her back down onto her heels and stepping away. "What are you trying to do?" he asks angrily, whisper-shouting, face matching his hair.
"I zink eet was quite obvious," Gabrielle retorts, thoroughly embarrassed. "I was trying to keez you."
"Why?" Charlie hisses, his hand coming up to run through his hair. "Did you not hear me? I'm thirty-one, we're fifteen years apart, kid. That's just… that's wrong!"
Gabrielle glares at him intensely, veela side coming through. Fire replaces the stars in her expression. "Eez zat supposed to matter to me?" she spits. "My père eez twenty years older than my maman. In France, age eez not what matters, only love! Give me one more reason why eet would be wrong to love you, Charlie."
His expression is cold and deadly. "I'm in love with your sister."
Tears flood her eyes as she looks away. "I do not care," she lies, "I am in love with you, am I not?"
Charlie looks at her, disappointment and confusion and anger and sleep deprivation evident. He shakes his head, stares up at the sky, and walks away, leaving Gabrielle shuddering in his tattered blue robe.
Breakfast is awkward and silent as the two struggle not to brush up against each other or fall behind each other in line for eggs as around them, the Weasley (and one Potter) family goes on. George is making a bet with Harry concerning something about the honeymoon, Fleur is dabbing at the corner of Bill's mouth with a napkin. Time goes on, but at that moment, it has stopped for the young sixteen-year-old-girl.
They sit across from each other at the table unintentionally, fiercely avoiding each other's gaze. Finally, Gabrielle sets her utensils down at looks away from her food, catching Charlie's eye and flushing. "Papa," she says, "I shall be staying with Charlie in Romania during ze summer. Eez zat not okay with you?"
The kitchen becomes quieter as Monsieur Delacour looks at Gabrielle, and then Charlie, and then Gabrielle again. "Eez zis true, Monsieur Chah-lie?" Monsieur Delacour gazes at the man with beady blue eyes and a thin line for lips.
Charlie splutters, unable to speak. "I - I - Um - I - Well - She… I… Yes?"
"Zen eet eez okay wiz moi!" Monsieur Delacour sings happily, and the meal goes on. Gabrielle smirks discreetly and looks back down at her food, spooning scrambled eggs into her mouth, feeling Charlie's eyes on her for the entire breakfasttime.
June seems to come early this year. Seventeen and finally free of Beauxbatons (school begins at age nine and ends at age sixteen), Gabrielle packs her silk-covered suitcase and hugs her maman and père goodbye as she stands at the International Floo Department, next in line.
"Write to us," Apolline Delacour calls in French as Gabrielle steps into the fireplace, smiling widely at the realization that she will catch sight of Charlie once more.
"Oui! Je vous aime!" And then the world begins to spin and Gabrielle opens her eyes to find a man sitting at the table staring at her with surprise and happiness in his eyes. He looks young, maybe twenty, with jet-black hair and hazel eyes. She smiles at him.
"'Ello," he greets, taking Gabrielle's hand and kissing her knuckles shyly. "I'm Aiden. You must be the girl Charlie was talkin' 'bout, the girl who was gonna help out. Gabrielle, right?"
The girl nods and picks up one of her suitcases, Aiden picking up the other. "Where eez Charlie?" she asks curiously, and Aiden shrugs.
"He's prob'ly out back with some of the new dragons we've got. Come, I'll take you up to your room, and then I'll take you out to see Charlie." Aiden grins at her and Gabrielle steps up, following him up the winding staircase to her new home.
"Wow. Ze are très, très beautiful, are zey not?" Gabrielle breathes, staring down the fence to look at the new Chinese Fireballs that were hatching.
Aiden looks at her adoringly, smitten. "Yeah. Just like you," he whispers back, and Gabrielle turns to look at him just as Charlie walks into the room, expression hard and breathless. "Charlie!" Aiden exclaims, and turns around to salute him teasingly.
"Shut up," Charlie laughs, and nods towards the door. "Can you give us a second?" Reluctantly, the boy glances at Gabrielle before walking outside. Once he is gone, Charlie opens his mouth. "So, what're you really doing here?" he asks, avoiding her blue-eyed gaze and looking down at the baby dragons. "Look, if you're here for me, why don't you just go right now, okay? We can say you got homesick, that Romania gave you allergies, you don't have to tell them anything about 'us', okay?"
Gabrielle smiles impishly. "Zere eez an 'us'?" she jokes, and rolls her eyes when Charlie glares at her. "And what eef I am 'ere for ze dragons? Did you ever zink of zat?"
"Don't screw this up, Gabrielle," Charlie warns, hands in his pockets. She looks at him with apology in her eyes and pink in her cheeks.
"Whatever 'as 'appened between us 'as 'appened," she sighs, eyes downcast. "Let us put zat in ze past and forget, shall we not? I am 'ere for ze dragons, Charlie. Zey are beautiful creatures."
Charlie nods his head, still refusing to look at her. "Okay," he says finally, staring at his feet. "We'll see how this goes." He walks away, turning to shoot her a raised eyebrow over his shoulder before opening the door and walking out.
Gabrielle can hide the love from her eyes, but evidence remains in the butterflies inside her stomach.
And so Charlie spends the summer with a dragon-fever-ridden seventeen-year-old girl, teaching her about Antipodean Opaleyes and Romanian Longhorns, buying her a pair of dragon-hide gloves and fire-proof trousers. He learns to love her melodic laugh and adore the stars in her eyes as she gushes about dragons and beauty and fire as they eat dinner together every night for months. Slowly and surely, he learns to love her, and he learns to love her.
"Charlie, do you ree-member when I used to be een love with you?" Gabrielle asks one day as he zips her around the reservation on his broomstick, making sure nothing is amiss.
Used to be rings in his head. "How could I forget?" he says coolly. "You practically threw yourself at me, Gabs."
The young girl throws her head back and laughs, slapping his shoulder for reminding her. "I joost wanted to say I am très désolé for my een-appropriate behaviour," she giggles, resting her head against his back as wind pushes past them. "I was silly and een love and jealous of Fleur for finding eet so easily. Also, I always zought you were ze best-looking Weasley brother." Gabrielle winks and chuckles at his blushing expression as they land. She dances away, feeling his eyes on her desperately.
Gabrielle complains of a headache one day, about a week before she is due to head back home, Charlie leaves her back at the barracks reluctantly, not feeling the same as he whizzes around on his broom without her giggles and jokes to accompany him. The air is completely silent and the heat makes his vision blurry, and he is trying so hard to imagine her voice to make him less lonely that he doesn't even notice when the fierce Ukrainian Hornbelly jets through, knocking him down with just a slap of its tail. His broom is crushed in milliseconds and Charlie feels his leg and hand shatter, suddenly vulnerable and possibly dying. "Help!" he screams, bloodcurling shrieks piercing the air as he drags himself across the desert sand, crouching behind a boulder and clutching his broken limbs, his life flashing before his eyes.
(Most of his visions consist of a silvery-blonde-haired girl with blue eyes and a pink smile, always laughing.)
"Stupefy!" a chorus of voices shout, and the loud thump of dragon against dirt makes Charlie close his eyes and pray. "Charlie? Charlie, where are you?"
"Over here!" Charlie shouts, waving his good hand to catch the three other dragon-chasers' attention. "Thank God you guys were here. I don't know what would've happened if you guys hadn't come," he babbles thankfully, letting his friends carry him onto a conjured stretcher, shaking with adrenaline and pain.
"You would've died, that's what," one of the men, Lou, says, shaking his head as they walk, carrying him carefully to the base closest to the area.
"Yep," another, Reginald, agrees. "Just goes to show ya, doesn't it? Got to live in the moment. Carpet dime, right?"
"It's carpe diem, idiot," Lou replies, carrying the stretcher with one hand for a second to slap the other man's head. "Seize the day."
"Live in the moment, tha's right," the third dragon-chaser, Justin, sighs. "Don't waste time moping. All you have is now."
In the stretcher, staring at the blood from his wounds and the pieces of broomstick that were left behind him, Charlie is frozen with their words.
After a glass of liquid courage and the fear that he may never see her again, Charlie bursts into the girls' rooms, thankful that surely everyone but his Gabrielle would be eating at dinner. "Gabs?" he echoes desperately, searching through each and every room, cursing the fact that she'd never told him which one was hers. "Gabs! It's Charlie, I… I need to tell you something…"
He opens each door and finds the rooms empty, until finally, the very last room at the end of the hall is left and Charlie feels incredibly stupid. "I have to tell you that I love y-"
The door is flung open to reveal Gabrielle's lips against Aiden, their eyes closed and arms wrapped around each other. "Charlie!" Gabrielle squeaks, and jumps away from the boy, who is breathing hard and red-faced.
"Oh," is all Charlie can say before he turns around and walks away.
All you have is now, the voice inside his head reprimands.
Yeah? Well, now is too late and life sucks, he growls back and puts his head in his hands.
Charlie waves goodbye to her with tears in his eyes and bitter regret flooding his tastebuds. "Come back now, y'hear?" he shouts after her, smile on his face fake. She can feel it.
"Write to me, Charlie! Do not forget about dear old Gabrielle," she giggles, next in line. "Come and visit, okay? I will be staying een Bill and Fleur's home."
The older man nods and sighs as she disappears from his view. Maybe it would be easier if I never saw her again, he suggests, and walks away.
Gabrielle waits for his letter but it never comes. She waits for his promise but he never shows. Slowly but surely, she begins to lose faith. Finally, it is summertime and the Burrow, for once, is empty, as everyone is suddenly renting cottages and sleeping on the couch in her sister's home, celebrating the birth of Victoire Gabriella Weasley, for whom she is the Godmother.
"Maybe I can stay with Charlie een Romania again," she mentions on the hot day as she stands beside Molly, who is clutching her new granddaughter to her, cooing with love. "I 'ave not seen 'im een so long, after all."
Molly sets the baby back into her crib and gives her a quizzical look. "Oh, dear, don't you know?" she asks, confused. "Charlie moved to the States. Apparently, he got some new job as a head-tamer in some Californian reserve. Got me right worried too, he's a million miles away!" As Molly rants and raves about her second-eldest sons distance, Gabrielle sighs and walks out into the garden alone, raising her wand and Apparating to the place where she knew he'd be.
"How'd you know I'd be here?" his deep voice greets her as she appears with a pop in the backyard of the Burrow. "I made sure everyone thought I was in America."
Gabrielle rolls her eyes and sits down beside him at the picnic table in the middle of the grass. "I know you too well, Charlie," she sighs, intertwining their fingers together nonchalantly. "Eef I wanted to get away, I would come 'ere, too."
"Everything's all wrong," he breathes, and takes the cup sitting on the surface of the table, tipping it to his lips. At first, Gabrielle assumes it's alcohol, but when she catches a glimpse of the orange liquid inside she realizes it is pumpkin juice.
"'ow can love be wrong?" she whispers back, smiling. Inching closer to him, she leans in and takes in the outdoorsy musk of dragons and heartbreak. "I love you," she confesses. "I never stopped."
And with that, he closes the distance between them, their first kiss exactly as he imagined it. Her lips capture his sweetly and softly, short, but within that second in which their lips are connected fifteen years too late becomes fifteen years enough.
As she pulls away blushing, she lets a slight giggle escape.
"What?" he asks, cheeks dimpling and still dazed.
"You taste like pomkin jooz," she laughs, and takes his cup of pumpkin juice, letting the liquid past her lips before setting it down half-full.
And so it ends with a simple cup half-full of pumpkin juice.