Chapter 14: Pressure
A/N: I know it's been forever. *facepalm*
Charlie awoke the next morning from a fitful sleep with no idea how to handle the situation. He knew he'd have to face Oliver eventually, but he had no idea what to say and when was the best time to say it. Oliver was leaving that night for Ireland, and he and Bill were supposed to be taking a portkey there the next day. Charlie spent the rest of the day in a daze, washing dishes with his mother, and spending time with the Golden Trio and Ginny. Finally, he decided he needed to talk to Oliver that night. He had to tell him before they left for Ireland.
It was nearly seven when Charlie arrived at Oliver's flat. Oliver rushed to open the door and nearly jumped in surprise. "Charlie? What are you doing here?" He asked. Charlie studied him intensely. Oliver's hair was askew and his shirt was on backwards. He was attempting a smile but it came out as a grimace and he was unconsciously biting his lip. He looked even more nervous than he had the night they had first had sex.
Oliver stepped back and ushered him in.
Charlie gave Oliver a weak smile, feeling almost as nervous as Oliver looked. "I wasn't able to come over last night so I thought I'd come by tonight."
Oliver nodded and placed a hand on the small of Charlie's back, pushing him further into the living room. "I'm packing." He explained, eyes flitting around the room.
Charlie noticed two suitcases zipped up and leaning against the wall. "You look pretty much packed." He commented.
Oliver, who had disappeared into the kitchen, called out to him through the open door. "No. I think I'm packed but I always forget something. I'm forgetting something, I know I'm forgetting something."
He reappeared a second later and stopped in front of Charlie, running a hand through his hair. "Merlin what's that thing that's like a toothbrush but for your head?"
"What?" Charlie asked.
"It's got the… things." Oliver held up his fingers and waved them back and forth.
"A brush?" Charlie answered cautiously.
"Yes!" Oliver shouted, hugging Charlie vigorously. "A brush!"
He ran out of the room. When he reentered the living room, his mood was completely altered. He was suddenly looking downtrodden. "I packed it three hours ago." He explained. He sat down heavily on the couch and put his head in his hands. "What is wrong with me?"
Charlie sat down next to him and wrapped his arm around Oliver's shoulders.
"I can't do this." Oliver whispered. He stared into Charlie's eyes, looking more vulnerable than Charlie had ever seen him. "It's the Irish National Quidditch team. How are we supposed to win against them?"
Charlie placed his hands on top of Oliver's and clasped them tightly. "You can do this. You're going to beat their arses." He stated seriously.
Oliver shook his head. "They won the 1994 Quidditch World Cup."
"And they haven't won since." Charlie replied smoothly.
"Conolly and Quigley are working together better than they were before. Then Troy's still not working as well with new chasers. It would be a mistake to underestimate him. A chaser that prefers to work alone is too unpredictable. O'Hare may not have come back from his injury. Even if he is they probably won't play him. They finally replaced Lynch and the new keeper's supposed to be very slim. That build could work against him if there are poor weather conditions, but the weather's supposed to be good…"
"Oliver, you're rambling." Charlie admonished. "Look you're going to wipe the floor with Ireland. They haven't been able to come back since they replaced Moran and Mullet. Their chasers were always their strong point and they haven't been able to live up to their name for a while." His hands tightened around Oliver's. "You're brilliant Oliver. You're going to be amazing and I'll be right in the stands watching you the whole thing."
Oliver smiled slightly and let out a weak chuckle. "That has to be the sexiest thing you've ever said." He stated. He shook his head and looked down, and the smile disappeared from his face. "I didn't want you to see me like this."
"Like what?" Charlie asked.
Oliver rolled his eyes. "Neurotic, crazy." He explained, waving his hand impatiently. "It happens two days before every game, but I've never felt this horrible before." He clasped his shaking hands together and placed them in his lap.
Charlie bit his lip. Now was definitely not the time to tell Oliver. He'd just be adding more stress to an already overstressed person. He placed his hands over Oliver's quivering ones and held them tightly until they stopped shaking. He looked down at their hands, trying to think of something to say, then sat up suddenly. "I got a letter from the Reserve just before I was about to come over here."
Oliver looked very confused but Charlie kept talking. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the wrinkled envelope. "I'm surprised Sorina replied at all. They kind of find me a bit overenthusiastic up there."
Oliver smiled weakly.
"But…" He continued. "She had to tell me about Adelina."
"Who's that?" Oliver asked.
"My Chinese Fireball. Well, when I say mine I mean I named her. She's older, much older than most of the dragons who lay are. No one was expecting her to lay any eggs at all. Even after we found out she was carrying most of the handlers still thought she wouldn't lay them. It's common for older dragons."
"Like a dragon miscarriage?" Oliver interjected.
"I guess you could say that." Charlie answered. "But I knew the second I found out she was pregnant that she would lay her eggs. Adelina's so strong. She's a natural mother, I could see it in her." He pulled out the photograph and showed it to Oliver.
Oliver smiled at the image. A man and a woman he didn't recognize stood in front of a large pen with an enormous red dragon towering over them. In between her clawed feet, guarded carefully by claws and wings, were three tiny dragon eggs. "Wow." He whispered.
"Small litter." Charlie commented, sniffing. He glanced once more at the photo and stowed it in his pocket. He cleared his throat and continued. "With Adelina getting pregnant was the hard part, but she already had everything she needed to lay her eggs. Once you get over the hump it always comes down to natural ability." He took Oliver's hands in his own and stared deeply into his brown eyes. "You've already done the hard part Oliver." He whispered. "You and your team proved to the world that Puddlemore can make it to the top, now all you have to do is what comes naturally."
Oliver grasped Charlie's hands tightly and warily voiced his deepest concern. "What if we're just not good enough?" He asked.
Charlie leaned forward and kissed Oliver gently. When he pulled back he smiled warmly. "I don't bet on the wrong horse Oliver. You will win because you are the best, and you want it more than anything in the world."
Oliver threw his arms around Charlie and laid his head on his shoulder. "You might have just done the impossible." He whispered in his ear. "You brought me back from the edge."
Charlie smiled and affectionately nuzzled Oliver's cheek. "Your hands have stopped shaking." He whispered. They sat like that long after Oliver's fluctuating heartbeat and Charlie's gentle beating became one steady rhythm.
"Well maybe eets for ze best."
Charlie stared at the gorgeous blonde woman sitting at the edge of his bed. Oliver had had to leave for the stands at midnight to make it to his portkey. Charlie returned to the Burrow only to run straight into Fleur, who was enjoying finally being out of the wheelchair and making a midnight snack. Upon seeing his worried face, she'd immediately dragged him into his room and forced him to explain everything.
"E eez very stressed right now Charlie. I know you would like to tell 'im, but maybe you should wait."
Charlie chewed his lip thoughtfully. "It just feels wrong to keep this to myself. I don't want to hide things from him."
Fleur smiled and lightly pinched his cheek. "You are very cute meester Weasley. Eet eez good to want to be so honest. I am not saying you need to keep this from 'im forever, just postpone eet until the timing eez better."
Charlie leaned forward, allowing his head to rest on his hands. He stared into her dark blue eyes with interest. "Don't you think that's being deceitful?"
"In most cases yes." Fleur answered truthfully. "But this eez different. Oliver eez going to do something 'e has never done before Charlie. 'E's already very stressed. Eet eez best not to put more in 'is bowl."
Charlie chuckled. "You mean on his plate?" He asked.
"Wherever." Fleur answered impatiently. "You want to protect 'im right?" She asked.
"Well then 'andle this yourself. Make sure that no one else finds out, and you know the three of us will not say anything." She stood then and placed a small hand on his meaty shoulder. "And Charlie?" She asked.
Charlie nodded, prompting her to continue.
"Stop kissing 'im in public." She finished and slapped him lightly on the cheek.
Charlie blushed. "Alright." He said. "I'll try."
"To be young and in love." Fleur joked.
Charlie wrapped a friendly arm around her and walked her to the door. "You're always right Fleur." He commented.
"I know." Fleur responded.
They reached his door and he opened it for her. She hugged him quickly and kissed him on both cheeks.
"Do you need me to walk you back to the room?" He asked, gesturing to her unsteady gait.
Fleur smiled. "No, you are very sweet, but I must do some things on my own."
Despite her assurances, Charlie continued to watch her until she'd successfully made it down the hall. Bill would kill him if she fell and he wasn't there to help.
Charlie jumped several feet in the air and turned around to stare at his youngest brother. Ron was staring openmouthed at the spot Fleur had just been standing. "What's up Ron?" He asked.
"You are a God!" He exclaimed excitedly.
Charlie raised a quizzical eyebrow. "And why is that?" He asked.
Ron sighed dreamily. "I love Hermione mate but if I got Fleur in my room after dark…"
"She would kick your arse and then call Bill in to finish you off." Charlie finished.
"Come on, you'd have to be dead from the waist down to not be into that." Ron commented.
Charlie rolled his eyes, exasperated. "She's basically your sister Ron, do you think of Ginny that way too?"
Ron's jaw dropped again. "Like Ginny? She is nothing like Ginny!"
Charlie sighed and placed a calming hand on his brother's shoulder. "Looking is fine and frankly Fleur is so far out of your league you won't have to worry about being unfaithful. However, if I were you I'd avoid making comments about Fleur when you never know if Bill might overhear you."
Ron shook his head distractedly, clearly not listening to him. "Mate if only I had your restraint…"
Charlie closed the door in Ron's face, as he continued to babble about how hot Fleur was. He rolled his eyes when he heard Ron mutter something about "keeping fit after having two kids" and smiled to himself. He was definitely starting to see the perks of being gay. If he wasn't, he probably would have never been able to befriend Fleur. While Charlie still desperately wanted to tell his family about his relationship, having Fleur around to talk to definitely made things easier.
Charlie threw himself onto the bed and stared at the ceiling. Perhaps Fleur was right. Maybe it would be better for everyone if he held off telling Oliver for a few weeks. Oliver was barely handling the stress as it was. For now Charlie would just have to live in the moment, and with that in mind he tried and failed to suppress the part of him that couldn't stop fretting over what would happen when Oliver's tournament was finally over.