Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of the related characters, plots, places, or creatures.
Warnings: Mpreg, slash, HP/CW
Authors Note: This story was a part of Kamerreon's Secret Santa challenge as a gift for mariegilbert. Thank you Cyhyr for betaing. I hope you all enjoy it!
A Christmas Surprise
It was still mostly dark out. Charlie didn't usually rise before the sun. He hadn't beaten it by much though. The sky was slowly beginning to lighten. The familiar view from his living room window was slowly coming into view. All over the complex people were beginning to stir. Lights flicked on in several houses, their owners too impatient to wait on the sun. It was a busy lifestyle on the reserve. One that started early, and ended late. It was only a small group of people who could manage it, but those who did couldn't imagine living anywhere else.
Charlie was one of those people. He loved everything about the reserve. Living here was a blessing. Not many people can say they love their job, but Charlie could. He woke up everyday excited to go to work. The dragons were his life. And he was good at his job and got paid well so, really, what was there not to love? The people on the reserve were just as amazing. He may have left his blood family back in England when he took this job, but he had built another family here.
There was one thing missing. A partner. Someone Charlie could share his life with. Someone he could love and would love him in return. Six months ago Charlie would have told you with all certainty that had found the person he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. Six months ago Charlie had been the happiest he'd ever been. Six months ago Charlie's boyfriend had broken up with him while Charlie could feel a ring box digging into his leg.
There was no reason for the breakup. At least, none that Charlie could understand. His boyfriend had merely told him they could no longer be together. He calmly informed Charlie that he had already removed all his things from their joint London apartment, and the few things he had stored at Charlie's home on the reservation. And with nothing more than an, "I'm sorry," he apparated out of the apartment and out of Charlie's life.
In the year and a half that they had been dating Charlie had happily split his time between Romania and England. He had not returned to England since the breakup however. He knew he would have to return eventually. Indeed, Christmas was fast approaching, only five weeks away, and his mother would be terribly upset if he didn't come home for the holiday. Bill was returning as well and even Percy would be there this year. Still, he didn't want to go home. He didn't want to run into him.
Charlie shook his head to clear the troublesome thoughts from his mind. No. He wasn't going to worry about it now. Christmas wasn't for another five weeks. For now he was going to enjoy the beautiful sunrise, make a cup of tea, and get ready for the day. And if he went out drinking later, well, what of it? He was young and allowed to have some fun.
Harry's eyes opened slowly. It was four in the morning and he was exhausted, however it is impossible to sleep when one's back continues to cramp up. Harry hadn't had a decent nights sleep in weeks. Placing a hand on his swollen belly he rubbed it a little before slowly raising himself into a sitting position. The nausea had finally disappeared a few weeks ago and Harry was incredibly grateful for it. The cramps and muscle spasms were almost as bad though. His back and feet ached, and he hadn't fallen asleep till almost two last night due to the pain. And now it had woken him up again. He pushed himself up to a standing position and waddled into the bathroom to relieve his bladder and wash his face.
Madam Pomfrey was acting as his healer for the pregnancy and said he only had another month left. She would perform the c-section December 14, about a week and a half before Christmas. Along with being the proper nine months, it would also give him time to rest and recover before the holiday hit.
Harry was extremely grateful for this because he had been invited to the Weasley's for Christmas. It was in four weeks and he had yet to decide if he would actually attend. None of them knew the reason for his breakup with Charlie. After the breakup Harry had disappeared to an old family home of his parents in Ireland and hadn't seen a Weasley since. He hadn't even expected an invitation to Christmas dinner for he expected them to be furious with him. However in the letter he received last week Molly had written that no matter what, he was still one of her children and she wanted more than anything to have the whole family there for Christmas.
Harry was terrified of seeing Charlie again though. What would he say? He'd broken Charlie's heart. That much was true. But Harry was convinced it was for the better. Charlie had loved him, but Harry knew Charlie hadn't been ready to settle down. A child would mean that Charlie wouldn't be able to live inside the reservation. It was too dangerous in there and no children were allowed. Charlie had often told Harry of what a hassle it would be to have to commute into the reservation everyday due to all of the security checks. The dragon reserve was locked up tighter than Britain's Ministry of Magic. All dragon reserves had strict security codes, but Romania's was by far the most rigorous. It was because, as Charlie had boasted many times, they had some of the most rare dragons in the world kept there.
Even besides that, Charlie loved to travel. Harry had lost count of the times they took weekend trips across the globe. They'd visited Greece, the Netherlands, Australia, Brazil, and Harry's personal favorite, Thailand. Just another thing Charlie would have to give up upon having a child.
If Charlie knew Harry was pregnant he would insist on them marrying. Harry wanted to marry for love, not because of a child. And Charlie would have to give up all of the things he loved so much. Eventually, Charlie would grow to resent Harry, and their child. Harry couldn't let that happen. So he left. Before Charlie could leave him.
Patrick walked into yet another run down bar. He'd visit half a dozen in the last hour, each one worse than the last. This one had a name that roughly translated to "Sally's Legs." Patrick didn't know who Sally was, but her legs were full of men with an evil glint in their eyes. Patrick quickly scanned the room anxious to leave, when he spotted the reason for his search.
Sitting in the corner nursing a bottle with a dozen empties sitting on the table in front of him was Charlie Weasley. With only three weeks till Christmas and his inevitable return to England Charlie had taken to drinking heavily. This was not the first night this week that Patrick had to hunt his friend down. He sometimes spent hours searching every seedy pub and bar in town looking for the redhead.
Patrick wove through people and tables making his way over to his friend. He was careful not to bump into anyone. The last thing he needed to do was start a fight and from the look of it, most of the patrons were just looking for a reason. He slid into a seat next to Charlie causing his friend to look up. There was a blank look in Charlie's eyes for several minutes before he recognized Patrick. He blinked a few times and glanced around the room as if seeing it for the first time. His eyes fell on the slew of empty bottles and he did a bit of a double take before turning back to Patrick.
"Hey Patwick," he said.
Ignoring the blatant butchering of his name Patrick eased the almost empty bottle out of Charile's hand and placed it out of reach. "You okay Charlie?"
"Yeah! I feel great! Never better I-" suddenly Charlie swayed violently in his seat almost causing the chair to topple over. Patrick grabbed him quickly before he could fall over. He got Charlie stable again just as a waitress reached their table.
"You here to take him home?" she asked Patrick.
"Yes. Does he owe money?" Patrick asked as she began cleaning up some of the empty bottles.
"No, he gave us his Gringotts card. He's covered. Get him home and next time have him pick his bar a little more carefully. I had to fend off some of the regulars who wanted to pick a fight," she responded.
"I will, thank you." Patrick pulled a few galleons from his pocket and handed them over. She accepted them with a nod and walked away.
"Come on Charlie, let's get you home," Patrick said helping his friend to stand. He leaned Charlie against him and wrapped his arm around his shoulder. Charlie swayed a little bit, but managed to stay upright. The two slowly and carefully made their way out to the street.
Apparating while drunk, or apparating someone who was drunk was extremely dangerous so Patrick was relieved that the bar was only a few blocks from the reserve. They slowly made their way to the gates, stopping once for Charlie to get sick.
The gatekeepers opened the gates for them without a fuss. They checked Patrick's wand quick for identification, but they, too, had grown accustomed to Patrick helping Charlie home after he spent a night out.
Once they were inside the reserve Patrick relaxed a little bit more. The city could be sketchy, especially late at night like this. The reserve was always safe though. "Come on Charlie, we're almost home," he told his friend.
Charlie shook his head. "Don't want to go home. Don't want to. Pain. Too much pain. Don't want to go back. You can't make me. Don't make me go back Patwick. Don't make me. I can't see him. I can't."
Patrick felt sorry for his friend. Charlie had refused to tell them whom he was seeing. It had been obvious that the two had been very much in love, and Charlie had confessed that he planned to marry the man. Patrick didn't know what happened, but Charlie had come back from a trip to England six and a half months ago completely devastated. All anyone had managed to find out was that they had broken up, but how and why was never explained. Charlie was still not over it, that much was obvious.
"No, we're not going to England. We're going to your apartment. On the reserve. See? We're here already. Where's your key? Is it in your pocket?" Patrick coaxed. It took a few minutes of fumbling before Charlie could produce his key and then Patrick had to unlock the door because Charlie's hands were shaking so badly. Patrick carefully guided his friend into his apartment thanking every deity he knew that Charlie didn't live on the second floor.
Charlie had started to sober up a bit and was able to remove his jacket and shoes on his own. Patrick helped him to bed.
"Thanks, Pat," Charlie said quietly.
"No problem Charlie, get some sleep," Patrick told him, but he might as well not have answered because Charlie was already passed out. Patrick let himself out ready to go home and get some sleep himself.
Harry was carrying his dinner dishes to the kitchen sink when he felt the first stab of pain in his stomach. It was so unexpected that he doubled over, almost falling to the floor. The dishes crashed to the ground, most of them breaking. Slowly the pain receded. Concerned he gathered the fragments of his plate and put them in the garbage. He began to make his way over to his fireplace, but before he reached it the pain hit again bringing him to his knees. Gasping he crawled the rest of the way to the fireplace and tossed in some floo powder calling for Madame Pomfrey.
"What is it Harry?" Poppy asked as her face appeared in the flames.
"The baby's coming," Harry managed to gasp before another spasm of pain hit him.
"Oh dear. It's a little early, but nothing we can do. Move out of the way, I'm coming through," Poppy said. Harry crawled to the side and Poppy stepped out of the flames. Medical bag in hand, she helped Harry off the floor and helped him to his bedroom.
Poppy had explained to Harry several weeks ago that this might happen. During a male pregnancy, mediwizards choose a date for a c-section, but sometimes, just like with any birth, the baby comes early. The danger in a male pregnancy is that the baby has nowhere to go. If a mediwizard isn't available, both the baby and father can die.
After getting Harry situated on the bed, Poppy quickly gave him a potion to dull the pain and numb his stomach. She waited a few minutes for Harry to indicate that the potion had kicked in, and once he nodded at her she began to perform the surgery.
The process went smoothly and quickly. Harry was amazed at how fast it all happened. Not even an hour ago he'd been eating lunch, and now Poppy was healing his stomach and cleaning off his daughter. Poppy ran a few diagnostic tests quickly and smiled. "She's perfectly healthy. Would you like to hold her?"
Harry nodded, and Poppy placed her in his arms. Poppy began filling out the birth certificate. "3.6 kg and 51 cm. Born December 10, 2001. What are you going to name her?"
Harry stared at his daughter's face for a few minutes. She had his green eyes, and though her hair was blond now, he knew it would inevitably turn red. He'd thought about naming her after his mother, but he wanted her to have a name all her own. "Gwen Lillian Potter," Harry told her.
Poppy smiled, "That's beautiful Harry," she said before writing it down. "Okay, I think I've got everything. How are you feeling?"
"Good. A little tired," Harry told her.
"That's to be expected. You're likely to be sore for a few days, so take it easy. I'm going to stay here with you at least until tomorrow. How about I take Gwen and clean her up a bit while you take a short nap? I'll wake you in an hour and you can feed her, alright?"
Harry nodded and handed Gwen over. Poppy shot a few quick cleaning charms at him before leaving the room. Sighing, Harry sunk into his pillows. A daughter. He had a daughter. He'd known he was pregnant for months now, but he still hadn't been prepared to hold Gwen in his arms. He decided then and there that he would tell Charlie. He hadn't been planning to, but Charlie had a right to know he had a daughter. Had a right to hold her in his arms and be a father. With that thought in mind, Harry slowly drifted off to sleep.
Charlie stood outside the Burrow and stared up at it for a few minutes before heading inside. It was a week until Christmas and he'd come home early to help his mother get the house ready for guests. To say he was happy to be home wouldn't be a complete lie. While he hadn't wanted to return to the memories of Harry, he had missed the warmth and comforts the Burrow offered and the feeling of being surrounded by family. As he swung open the door the smell of his mother's cooking swept forward like a warm embrace and Charlie knew that no matter his reasons, he'd stayed away too long.
"Charlie! You're home!" Mrs. Weasley came bustling out of the kitchen to greet her son. "Come in, come in! Everyone else is out. The twins, your father and Percy are at work. Bill hasn't come home yet. He'll be here on Monday. Ron is with Hermione and Ginny is spending the day at Luna's. Come, I'll make you some lunch, you must be starving."
Charlie grinned at his mother's never-ending need to feed people. He couldn't help but admit that she did it well as he bit into the roast beef sandwich she made him.
Mrs. Weasley sat down at the table and poured herself a cup of tea while he ate. Charlie had always been very close to his mother and whenever he came home they always had a heart to heart.
Never one to beat around the bush, his mum started right away. "How have you been doing?"
Charlie sighed and put down his sandwich for a minute to answer her. "Honestly? Not too good. The last few months have been very difficult. Do you know anything more? Have you heard from him at all?"
Mrs. Weasley shook her head. "Not really. We invited him to Christmas and he replied with an affirmative, but that's been it. Not even Ron or Hermione have really talked to him, and no one has seen him from what I can tell. It's like he completely disappeared. Honestly I'm starting to get worried. This isn't like him, and if he hadn't said he would be here for Christmas, I might have contacted the aurors. I understand you had your differences, but I'm worried there might be something wrong with him."
"It's not so much that we had differences. He just left. He didn't give me any explanation at all actually," Charlie corrected his mother.
"Oh dear," Mrs. Weasley frowned. "What if there really is something wrong? It would be just like him, too. To cut contact and hole himself away so as not to be a bother."
Charlie frowned in concern. That was exactly what Harry would do. What if Charlie had it all wrong? He'd known Harry loved him. What if there was something wrong and Harry had left to try and protect Charlie. The more Charlie thought about it, the more likely it seemed. Harry hadn't been feeling well and had visited Madame Pomfrey at Hogwarts. He wouldn't tell Charlie what Madame Pomfrey had said, but he had spent the next few weeks acting oddly before declaring their relationship finished. Charlie had been in too much pain at the time to make the connection, but now it was a distinct possibility. Quickly Charlie steered his mother away from the topic and starting telling her about the dragons he'd been working with. Secretly though, he made a promise to himself to get to the bottom of this on Christmas. If something was wrong with Harry, Charlie wasn't about to let him go through it on his own.
Christmas morning started out like every other morning in the last two weeks. Harry awoke to the sound of his daughter crying to be fed. Dragging himself out of bed and into the kitchen, he began to fix her bottle. Glancing at the clock he heaved a sigh of relief. After feeding Gwen he was rarely able to go back to sleep. Lately she had taken to waking up at three or four in the morning and crying for food. After her feeding, Gwen would fall right back to sleep, but Harry was unable to follow. It seemed Gwen's Christmas present to him was sleeping in till 6:00. This was the most uninterrupted sleep Harry had been able to have since Gwen had been born.
After feeding, Gwen did indeed fall back asleep. Harry went into his kitchen to make some tea and watch the sunrise as he did most mornings now. Poppy would be coming over later and would watch Gwen while Harry went to the Weasley house. Harry was still determined to tell Charlie he had a daughter, but he wasn't quite sure how to bring it up. He wasn't going to worry about it now though. He would improvise when the time came. For now he was just going to enjoy his tea and the morning. After all, it was Christmas.
Charlie was in the living room vanishing the wrapping paper that was left over from the large families gift exchange when there was a knock on the door.
"Charlie, could you get that?" his mother called from the kitchen, "I'm a little busy just this second."
The rest of the family was out back playing a little Quidditch while his mother was preparing dinner. Charlie didn't mind being left out of the fun, but right now he wished there was someone else in the house able to answer the door. It was likely Harry, and Charlie wasn't quite sure how to act around him just yet.
Charlie opened the door, and the sight of Harry Potter standing on the stoop confirmed his suspicions.
"Charlie! Oh, hi! Merry Christmas!" Harry stuttered, blushing. Quickly he held out the dish in his hands. "Blueberry cobbler. For dessert."
Charlie smiled and took the dish. "My favorite. Come in."
Harry came in and took off his coat and shoes while Charlie brought the dish into his mother who was just putting the turkey back in the oven. "It needs a few more minutes," she explained.
"Harry's here," Charlie said and his mother bustled out to great him.
"Oh Harry dear! How wonderful to see you! Merry Christmas dear."
"Merry Christmas to you too Mrs. Weasley. Where is everyone?" Harry asked.
"They're out back playing Quidditch. Why don't you go tell them you're here? Charlie, you can go with him and tell everyone food will be ready in fifteen minutes. I just have to finish a few things quick," Mrs. Weasley said before bustling back into the kitchen.
Charlie followed Harry out to the back of the house. The players didn't notice their arrival at first, but Hermione, who was watching the boys play, came to greet them at once. Hermione's exclamation at the sight of Harry did catch the attention of the players who then came to greet Harry as well. The group then trekked inside for their holiday dinner.
"That was delicious, Mrs. Weasley," Harry complimented when the meal was complete.
"Why thank you, dear. It's very nice to hear you say so. I'm just going to clean up some of these dishes, you folks go relax and we'll have tea and dessert soon," Mrs. Weasley responded as she started gathering dishes. The family abandoned the table and scattered to the four winds.
Harry figured this would be as good of a time as any to tell Charlie. Thankfully the older red head was still in the room. "Charlie? Could I talk to you for a minute?"
Charlie nodded, and Harry led the way out into the garden.
"I don't really know where to begin," Harry said. He probably should have picked a better location. It was getting rather cold outside as night was starting to fall and it was even beginning to snow.
"How about I start then?" Charlie asked, and Harry nodded his consent. "Are you sick?"
Harry's head shot up. "What? No! I'm fine."
"Harry you look exhausted. I've never seen you look this tired and run down. Are you sick? Is that why you left? Something is going on, I can feel it. I won't let you do this on your own. I still love you and I want to help you Harry. Please let me help you," Charlie begged.
Harry sighed. "I'm not sick Charlie. I promise. But yes, something did happen."
"What? What is it?" Charlie begged. He needed to know what was going on.
"I-I was pregnant," Harry said, closing his eyes and bracing for the reaction.
"What do you mean were?" Charlie asked cautiously.
"She was born two weeks ago. December 10th," Harry said.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Charlie asked reeling from shock. He had a daughter!
"I didn't want you to feel like you had to be with me, just because I was pregnant. I didn't want you to resent me for it. You would have to move outside the reservation, we would have had to give up traveling. All the things you love. I didn't want you to resent me and your daughter for making you give up your life," Harry told him.
"Feel like I had to be with you? I wanted to marry you! I had a ring in my pocket when you broke up with me. I wanted to love you and have a family with you. It wouldn't be giving up my life; it would be building a new one, a better one, with you. That's what I wanted. What I still want," Charlie told him.
"You still want that? You want me? Your daughter?" Harry questioned. He had to be sure.
"Yes I want that. I'll prove it to you," Charlie took Harry's hand and got down on one knee in the muddy grass. "Harry James Potter. Will you marry me?"
Harry stared at him in shock for a minute. Of all the things he had been expecting to happen today, this had not been one of them. "Yes! Yes, I will!"
Charlie gabbed Harry in a hug and kissed him. It was like giving a cup of water to a man in a desert. He drank it in and just wanted more and more. He could spend and eternity kissing Harry, but the need to breathe eventually overcomes. Panting, Harry laid his head on Charlie's chest and Charlie wrapped his arms around him. It felt so good to have his love back in his arms.
"What's her name?" Charlie asked.
"Gwen. Gwen Lillian Potter. Although, we might have to change that to Weasley soon," Harry told him.
Charlie smiled, "That we will. When can I see her?"
"Tonight. After dessert you can come home with me and I'll introduce you. Poppy is watching her now," Harry told him.
"Poppy. I should have known." Charlie smiled. "Come on, let's go inside and tell Mum. She'll be ecstatic."
"That she will. Charlie?"
"Happy Christmas to you too, Harry."