Title: Charlie Didn't Date Co-workers (Until Her)
Pairing: Charlie Weasley/Cho Chang
Word Count: ~7000
Beta: songquake and luvscharlie
Warnings: None considering the rating.
Summary: Charlie Weasley never dated co-workers. It was his only rule when it came to dating, and considering his experience in the field, it was one that should be respected no matter what.
A/N: Originally written as a gift for and_vine on charlieficathon 2011. She asked for something related to Quidditch, a little bit of house rivalry, use of magic and Charlie's freckles and tattoos. This fic was lots of fun to write and Cho is a character I learned to love through fanfiction. Everyone deserves a second chance...even the whiny, crying, annoying ex's of the heroes. ;)
Charlie Didn't Date Co-workers (Until Her)
The loud snores of a dragon echoing off the cold walls of the cave had been Charlie's lullaby for the last five hours. His peaceful sleep wasn't interrupted by said snoring, the chilly breeze entering the cave, or even the hard, cold floor he was sleeping on. It was only when Jesse, the sick dragon he'd been tending all night long, woke up and retreated into the depths of the cave, that Charlie opened his eyes, groaning at the hurting muscles throughout his whole body.
He turned on his stomach, trying to ease the pressure of the hard floor on his back muscles, but before he could even attempt stretching, he heard the voice of his supervisor.
"As you can see, Miss Chang, the vast amount of green spaces and number of mountains are supplemented by the many caves the dragons use to sleep in. This is an example of a teen-size cave. Young dragons starting adult life after being abandoned by their mothers prefer these caves."
"Oh, that's awful," a woman said.
"That's the life of a dragon, Miss Chang. Mother dragons can't take care of their offspring forever. If so, they'd be defenceless during adulthood. Now come inside, I'll show you the—Weasley?"
Charlie opened his eyes, not moving. Maybe if he stayed that way his supervisor would think he was a rock...
"Yes, sir?" Charlie answered in his defeated tone. Of course, this wasn't the first time he had been caught doing this. A week in observation. That was the punishment waiting for him. Not that it would be any problem for him. One week behaving wasn't that bad... or at least he could make an extra effort to not get caught again during those days.
"Stand up, Weasley," Mr. Reman said, clearly trying to suppress a tired sigh.
Charlie stood up, barely minding his wrinkled clothes, exhausted face and messy hair. Mr. Reman stood at the entrance of the cave rubbing his big belly.
He was mad. He always touched his stomach when he was angry or tired... or both.
Next to him stood an Asian girl who couldn't be more than twenty years old. Her long, black hair fell flawlessly down her back. Charlie noticed her clothes: a flowery skirt, a white blouse and brown leather sandals. As the pretty outfit suited her, Charlie assumed she was just a visitor — maybe family of the Minister for Magic or something like that. It wouldn't be the first time a young witch wanted to satisfy her curiosity, to feel like a dare-devil for a day by the side of the working — yet muscular, he might as well add — men in the Reserve. Pity he already had a date for tonight. If Charlie could convince her to stay the night, he would have Tuesday covered. He was more than sure she wouldn't say no. No lady would miss the opportunity to date a man who spent the day with wild dragons.
"Weasley, would you stop staring at our new Eco-keeper for a second and tell me what it is you're doing here? Your shift starts in an hour," Mr. Reman said, glancing at his watch.
"I was — Eco-keeper?" That position definitely didn't exist. Was this all a weird dream? He really shouldn't eat so much right before going to bed...
The girl smiled sympathetically, nodding curtly.
Mr. Reman sighed at Charlie's confused face. "I swear, if he weren't excellent at his job, I would have sent him back to England long ago," he muttered to the girl under his breath.
"I'm excellent at my job? Thank you, sir! See? A compliment now and again doesn't hurt anybody," Charlie said with a cocky smile.
"Don't test me, Weasley," Mr. Reman said seriously, staring angrily at him.
The supervisor sighed again. "Eco-keeper, Weasley, is a new position at the Reserve. Society — Muggle and Wizarding alike — is more aware and worried about the ecosystem and nature nowadays. I'm sure it's just another trend teenagers believe to be very hip."
Charlie chuckled. "I'm sure it is, sir." He nodded trying to suppress his smile.
"So, the Ministry insisted in adding an Eco-keeper who would take care of the flora, preserving the nature that makes up this Reserve and avoiding -or solving- any sort of contamination there might be. Although, Miss Chang, I assure you there isn't."
"Let's keep it that way, then," Chang said kindly.
"Now, Miss Chang, let me introduce you to Weasley. He is in charge of taking care of the dragons and helping with research and studies done down in the village." Mr. Reman introduced them, taking off his glasses and cleaning them with the hem of his shirt.
Charlie took a step towards them, offering his hand to her. "Charlie Weasley. Nice to meet you."
"Cho Chang. And...likewise," she said, shaking his hand with a firm grip.
"Yes. I'm sure you'll get to know each other better later. Now, Weasley, would you explain what are you doing sleeping on a cave's floor?"
Charlie shrugged. "Jesse was sick last night."
"The dragon?" Charlie nodded. "Yes, I read Plent's report informing me that 5036 was ill last night. So?"
"So?" Charlie repeated. Wasn't it obvious?
"So you stayed with the dragon for the night?"
"Of course? Weasley, what did we talk about last time?"
Charlie's eyes went to the ground, feeling like a first year caught out of his common room in the middle of the night. "That I should not stay with the dragons... no matter how sick they are." He monotonously mumbled the words he'd heard over and over again each time he'd been caught.
A giggle reached his ears; his gaze turned to Cho, who was holding a hand over her lips, trying to suppress her laughter.
Mr. Reman sighed, combing the few strands of hair at the back of his head with his hand. "All right, all right. You know the consequences, Weasley. One week. Come by my office after you go check on 503—on Jesse with Miss Chang."
"Me?" Cho asked surprised.
"You need to get familiar with the dragons at some point, Miss Chang, if you want to work in a Dragon Reserve."
"Of course," she whispered, her cheeks flushing.
"We'll finish the tour later today. In the meantime, get settled and if you decide to wander around, make sure you're with a Dragon Keeper. We'd rather not be forced to ask the Minister for another Eco-keeper because the first one he sent was roasted on her first day."
Cho nodded. "All right, sir."
"Weasley, my office," Mr. Reman said, pointing at Charlie with his finger, before leaving the cave.
Charlie heaved a long sigh, relaxing his shoulders, moving them in small circles, feeling the bones on his back crack in protest.
"All right," he said with a yawn. "Follow me, Miss Chang."
"Call me Cho."
Charlie gave her a crocked smile before realizing what he was doing. No. No hitting on co-workers. No matter how sexy her legs looked in that skirt. "Lovely. Wand out. At any growl or grumble you hear, make a Shielding Charm and stay put. Let me handle the rest."
Cho looked nervous but still nodded silently, looking defiantly at the depths of the cave.
They walked in silence for a short while. Charlie noticed her wand hand shaking a bit as her eyes skipped from one corner of the cave to the other as much as the dim light of his wand allowed.
"So...Cho, not a dragon fan, huh?"
She looked at him and smiled softly. "Well, I don't hate them."
"Sure. You're just scared of them," Charlie pressed in a slightly mocking tone.
"No, I'm not scared of them," Cho said in a huff, clearly indignant at his assumption. "I just..." she shrugged, "respect them."
He chuckled. "Respect them?"
"Yeah, well, not all of us are crazy dragon-lovers who enjoy sleeping with them," she retorted.
Charlie laughed, shaking his head lightly, but not saying anything else. This girl was more fun than he had thought. Despite his first impression, she seemed brave and witty enough to work in a place like this.
Their soft steps were the only sound as they kept walking slowly into a cave that grew darker and more humid.
"So, do you always sleep in caves with dragons?"
Charlie shrugged, giving a small smile. "Just when the chemistry is good and they pay for dinner."
Cho laughed. "Does that happen often?" she asked, following the game.
"Perhaps. One has needs, lady."
Cho nodded. "I bet."
The awkward silence returned again. Charlie was not very uncomfortable but he loved that she was nervous. It showed in every fibre of her body, and it was utterly adorable.
"Are you in trouble for being caught sleeping with... Jesse?"
Charlie shrugged. "Nah... I'll be on probation for a week, like always."
"So this happens often," she guessed.
"Not that often, but... yes," he explained with a smile. "I'll just be more careful this week."
Cho looked at him wide-eyed. "You're going to sleep with a dragon again this week?"
"Jesse is just a boy. Barely a teen, so he still plays a lot with his brother. And if James gets sick, I won't leave him alone. Their mother left them two days ago. They are still learning to live on their own and getting sick without your mother or family around for the first time is hard. At least it was for me," he finished in a whisper.
Cho looked at him curiously, trying to decipher who this man really was. She looked ready to say something when Charlie heard a loud growl. He pushed her hard against the wall before running to deal with an upset Jesse.
When he finished settling the dragon, Charlie looked back to where Cho had been standing.
She was crumpled on the floor.
A throbbing pain at the back of her head was the first thing Cho remembered. She could feel the blood pulsating painfully against her skull. Slowly opening her eyes to a blurry white ceiling, she pressed a hand against her forehead.
"Miss Chang! Can you hear me, Miss Chang?" a woman asked firmly.
"Yes," Cho answered, noticing how dry her throat was.
"Do you know where you are?" the nurse insisted.
"Infirmary. Water, please?"
The nurse helped her lift a bit her upper body and pressed a goblet of water to her lips. The cool liquid ran down her throat, making it easier to breathe and see.
"Much. Thanks," she said with a sigh as she was being laid down again.
"Do you know what happened, Miss Chang?"
Thinking for a second, the image of Charlie pushing her hard against the rocks of the cave appeared vividly on her mind. Yes. Cho remembered.
"That bastard!" she said angrily, though she regretted doing so; anger only made her blood pressure accelerate and the back of her head hurt more.
"Relax, Miss Chang. Mr. Weasley was worried."
"Still! Did he have to knock me down? Has he no control of his strength?"
The nurse sighed dreamily. "He does have nice muscles, doesn't he?"
"What?" Cho looked at the nurse with a frown. She hadn't paid much attention to the woman before, but she couldn't be much older than Cho, herself. Her brown, wavy hair tied in a loose bun made her pretty green eyes stand out. Cho sighed. "You've dated him, haven't you?"
The nurse blushed. "No, I haven't."
She didn't believe her. By the way Charlie was looking at her when they first met and this nurse's clear infatuation, it was evident to Cho that they had at least dated once. Cho snorted in amusement. Charlie Weasley was a womaniser after all. Just like she had thought.
"Where is he?" Did he really make her pass out and then just leave her there?
"He was here all morning but then had to work. Now I assume he is...having dinner," the nurse said in a weird tone.
She looked indignant and resentful, but before Cho could ask her anything else, the lady excused herself, saying it was past her own dinner time. Cho was instructed to stay the night so she could be checked every three hours for any unnoticed consequences of what she was told was a concussion.
She tried to sleep in that uncomfortable bed in the infirmary; she tossed and turned every five seconds for two hours until she heard voices outside. The whispers, giggles and shushing quieted as soon as someone entered the tent. Cho grabbed her wand and waited, listening carefully.
"You're not asleep. Quit pretending, Chang."
Cho opened her eyes and saw Charlie looking at her with a smug smile on his face. She wanted to erase that smile with every hex she could remember. How could he be so nonchalant when he'd almost killed her? Well, probably not killed her, but he had knocked her unconscious.
"You git! How could you be so...so...so...aarrgghhh! You're such a twat!" Cho said angrily, sitting up way too fast and making herself dizzy.
"You're so eloquent when you're angry. Very admirable. Here I was all this time, thinking my brother Ron was the –What's wrong?"
Cho was agitated, trying to focus on her breathing and not on how dizzy she felt. She had closed her eyes and pressed her fingertips on the sides of her head, trying to force the pressure to soothe the pain.
"Cho? All right there? Here, take this."
"What is it?"
"Just drink it," he instructed firmly.
And she did. A sticky liquid ran down her throat as she swallowed, trying to ignore the occasional bubbles forming in her mouth. A few breaths later, the pain disappeared; her mind cleared and she didn't feel dizzy anymore.
Cho sighed in relief. "What was that?"
"Thank you, Charlie!" he said in a high pitched voice. "You're welcome, Cho. Anything to help my new co-worker," he continued in his own voice –which was heavy with sarcasm, mind you-.
"Oh, of course... Thank you for hitting my head on the wall!" Cho said sarcastically too, crossing her arms over her chest and leaning back against the headboard of the bed.
"Hey, I didn't do it on purpose. Would you have preferred being roasted by a grumpy dragon instead? Because that could be arranged any minute! Just tell me and I'll take you to James, who got sick too, by the way, thank you for asking!"
Cho frowned at him. Was this man serious? He had pushed and knocked her against the stony walls of a cave and now he was reproaching her for not asking how the bloody dragon –or its brother- was doing on the same day? Cho looked at him, confused, debating whether she should hex him into next week or actually ask how James was doing.
She shook her head, not quite believing how brainwashed by Charlie Weasley she felt. So brainwashed, in fact, that she was, indeed, worrying about a sick dragon whilst spending her first night at the Reserve in the infirmary! That must be his way of persuading women like the nurse into dating him and making the poor woman –like many others- fall for him while he kept shagging random bimbos who giggled way too much...
"What happened to your hand?" she asked suddenly, just then noticing the bandage on his arm.
He lifted it. "This would be you, if I hadn't pushed you."
"Exactly. Would you like to have a sneak peek and compare the bump on your head to the prospect of having your smooth skin burnt like this?" he threatened jokingly attempting to lift the bandage off his arm.
He had saved her. He had really saved her. If he hadn't been there she would probably be dead now, and if she hadn't been there, his arm wouldn't have been injured.
"I'm sorry," she whispered, staring at her hands, contrite.
"'s all right," Charlie said with a shrug.
"Charlie?" a girl asked softly, opening the door of the tent.
"Oh, Judy! I'll... I'll be out in a minute," Charlie said with a very fake wink that made the girl giggle.
Cho snorted, shaking her head in disbelief. "You actually forgot about your date, did you?"
"Shhh! She can hear you! I can still get lucky," he said, grinning smugly.
"With that arm?"
"Your lack of confidence in my sexual skills hurts me, woman."
"Oh, I'm sorry. Of course, your sexual skills were all I thought about all day long, which happens to be the same amount of time I've known you, Weasley," she joked back.
"Fair enough. See you tomorrow, Chang," he said, heading to the exit. "Sorry about your head," Charlie whispered before leaving the tent.
"Sorry about your arm," Cho whispered in the darkness, hearing the uncontrollable giggles of Charlie's date as they walked away.
Her first breakfast at the Reserve was something Cho would never forget. Except for the two other women in the dining tent, the place was packed with men. Smelly, boisterous, not-conscious-of-their-own-strength men. Long forgotten were her expectations of an adult re-creation of the Great Hall at Hogwarts. Even the Giant Squid had more manners than these people. To her chagrin, the women were not very feminine either. If it weren't for their boobs, she wouldn't have recognised them among the manly multitude they had clearly mingled with.
What if she ended up like them? What if her feminine side was lost after co-habitating with men every waking hour?
Cho shook her head and flattened the blouse she had bought for her first day at work. This was not going to happen to her. She refused to spit on the ground, chew with her mouth opened or scratch random parts of her body in public like that.
She made her way to an empty place not too far from the door with determination, trying to ignore the inappropriate whistles and catcalls she was receiving, mentally refusing to change her walk, and sat down. The way she walked hadn't caused her any problems before, but now it seemed far too girly and provocative.
"Don't mind them," a man murmured against her ear, making Cho jump in her seat. He laughed. "Relax, Chang."
"Cho," she corrected, glaring at Charlie.
"Cho," he repeated. "Don't worry, Cho. I'll talk to them today. They're just trying to intimidate you. Kind of like wolves marking their territory, y'know?" Charlie said with a wink, handing her a serving plate of toast.
"I hope so," she mumbled, before sipping at her coffee.
"So, how's the head?" he asked lightly, distracted by two men playfully — violently, in Cho's opinion — punching each other over a battle for the last scone.
She shrugged. "Still attached to the rest of the body."
Charlie nodded absentmindedly. "That's always a good thing," he said suppressing a yawn.
"Your date kept you up all night?" Whenever she tried to sound casual, her voice betrayed her, quivering or stuttering. This, of course, was no exception.
Charlie eyed her for a moment before chuckling and stealing her toast for a bite. "Nope," he said with his mouth full. "Some women handle alcohol better than others." The implication in his words was enough for Cho.
"Eww," she said, making a face.
"My words exactly." His smile left his face. "In fact, I stayed up with James."
"Jesse's brother?" Cho asked worriedly. If anyone would have told her a week ago she would have been worried about a dragon with the flu she wouldn't have believed them. Still, here she was, hoping the poor creature would get better soon.
Charlie nodded. "He's not handling the flu as well as Jesse did."
"Oh, poor thing... Wait, what happened to your arm?" She noticed the bandage on his burnt arm was gone.
"Oh...magic!" he said mysteriously with a wink, right before his co-workers called him so they could all start their shift.
The steam in the bathroom surrounded Charlie the minute he turned off the water. He stepped out of the shower, grabbing a towel. He quickly ran it over his body before wrapping it around his waist.
The mirror returned only a foggy image of a redhead, so he wiped the steam off with the face towel by the sink. Now the image was clear, and he frowned at the freckles covering every bit of skin. Charlie couldn't deny they had been of great help with the chicks over the years, but he still hated the oh-too-many spots.
He took a step back, marvelling at how much the freckles and scars on his chest resembled a map. That map had been traced by many a woman's tongue, much to his delight. With a smug smile on his face, he lifted his arm, constricting the muscles, making his biceps pop and showing the payoff of all the hours of exercise the Reserve required. His fingers traced the Snitch that constantly moved its wings. At first that tattoo had been too ticklish and he'd considered having it removed, but with time he grew used to the small vibrating sensation. Now, he had to pay attention to even notice it.
Following his little post-shower routine, he turned around to inspect his back, which presented pretty much the same landscape of freckles, scars and muscles. On the upper part, a fierce dragon growled and flared its nostrils angrily. Charlie couldn't help but shiver with fear and — who was he kidding? — pride as he remembered his first task at the Reserve. At barely eighteen years old and with zero experience, his former boss — a useless, good-for-nothing twat — had delivered him to a death trap. Coincidentally, the fierce dragon he had encountered was the most dangerous dragon at the Reserve, gaining him the nickname of Death Trap. After almost two hours of trying different spells and escaping from the dragon's attacks, Charlie managed to tame the creature and heal his injured leg, all by himself. Oh, how good it had felt to see his former boss's face then. So was entering the cafeteria — which wasn't as good as the twat's face, but it did feel fantastic — with all his new co-workers congratulating him, cheering him and saying he had a natural gift. Charlie Weasley was finally good at something besides Quidditch, something that was quite unique because, to be honest, there weren't many people willing to work with dragons on a daily basis.
Glancing at the clock, he noticed it was already a quarter past seven. If he didn't hurry up, he would be late for his date. So in his most unceremonious way, Charlie started dressing. He ran around his room trying to find the clothes which, to his dismay, seemed determined to not be found. While doing the acrobatics that dressing up while being late required, Charlie tried to remember his date's name. He should really stop calling them by the days of the week. Tuesday's date had a name, he knew it. It was something... Christmas-y. Santa? Present? Tree? Ornaments? Garland? Carol s-? Carol!
Carol singers. Carol singers. Carol singers.
These mnemonic techniques were dangerous. Oh, how that slap when he had called one "toilet paper" had hurt! It really wasn't his fault that she had the same name as the number one brand of toilet paper in Bulgaria. Who calls their child Belana? Seriously. Not Charlie's fault.
Once ready, he checked that he had money and his wand. Carol singers, carol singers, carol singers. "Carol singers," he whispered before Apparating to the usual restaurant.
Surprised was an understatement to how Charlie felt as he stepped into the restaurant with "Carol singers". Right beside his table, the one he had reserved for the whole year, was Cho Chang. His new co-worker wasted no time, apparently, and was already having a date with Hart, the git.
He grumpily made his way to his table, pulling his date along with him. The quick and awkward clicking sounds of the blonde's high stilettos were a musical accompaniment to his heavy stomps. Charlie didn't know why it bothered him so much. It wasn't like he would have dated Cho anyway. Charlie Weasley never dated co-workers. It was his only rule when it came to dating, and considering his experience in the field, it was one that should be respected no matter what.
"Charlie! Hi," Cho greeted, surprised to see him there and already eyeing his curvy date.
"Hi," Charlie mumbled. "Hart," he said, nodding curtly at the git whose hand was painfully obvious in its attempt to grasp Cho's over the table. Charlie tried not to laugh when she took away her hand when Hart touched her.
Silly move, Hart. Hand-holding before appetizers? Ambitious... even for me.
As his date babbled something about dresses, or magazines, or... well, something he clearly wasn't paying much attention to, Charlie's eyes never left the neighbour table. Cho giggled every now and then as Hart spoke with a big-headed expression that Charlie would have loved to hex off his face.
"Charlie. Hey, Charlie. Did you hear me?" Carol singers asked, waving her hand in front of his eyes.
"Wha'? Oh, no. Sorry."
"I'm going to powder my nose. I'll be right back."
"'kay," he mumbled numbly as his gaze returned to Cho's table.
Just then, Hart got up from the table. Charlie quickly made his way to Carol singers' seat and called to Cho.
"You could do so much better."
"Excuse me?" Cho asked, indignant, crossing her arms.
"You heard me. Hart is a git, Cho."
"That is none of your business. Who I date is up to me to decide and... judge."
Charlie snorted. "Sure. Just that I've known the idiot for three years now and you've only met him for what... three hours?"
Cho huffed, pursing her lips. "You're being very rude, Charlie. You don't see me commenting on your choice in women. The poor girl! How could you date someone so daft? She's been going on and on about how dressy night gowns for women don't have as many pockets as men's," she said in disbelief.
"So what? It's not like she- like she- Wait, what happened to you not commenting on my date?" Charlie asked narrowing his eyes in suspicion.
"Ugh... Whatever, Charlie," Cho said in annoyance, throwing her napkin on the table and walking to the bar, where Hart was ordering drinks.
Charlie watched as she whispered in his ear and caressed his arm suggestively before they both walked out of the restaurant, giggling and touching each other... licentiously. Charlie felt like slapping himself in the face. Not only was he acting like a child, but he was also channelling his mother. If Bill knew he had ever thought the word 'licentiously' — even in his mind — he would never hear the end of it.
"Sorry it took me so long. There was a long line in the restroom."
Charlie eyed the blonde in front of him. He definitely wasn't in the mood to charm a daft girl. He would never admit it to her, but Cho was right. Carol singers wasn't the smartest one in the bunch.
"Wanna go to my place?" he asked tartly. They both knew why they were having dinner there. The restaurant and the whole 'date' thing was just a nice way of decorating what would most probably happen later.
"All right. But just so you know, I don't usually do this," she said, faking embarrassment.
He looked her over from head to toes, examining her tight, short dress and appreciating the low cleavage. He chuckled softly. "Of course."
The following night presented pretty much the same scenario for Cho and Charlie, except for their dates. This time Hart and Carol singers were replaced by another git working in the Reserve and another daft, blonde bimbo. The same exchange of mocking, bitterness and childish jealousy also happened, just like the night before.
By the third night, Charlie had convinced the waiter to make Cho sit on the opposite side of the restaurant, where Charlie could still observe her, but not necessarily talk to her. Because, in spite of it all, Cho was a nice girl he considered his friend, and taking into account the gits she'd been dating, he wanted to still keep an eye on her. It seemed like she had a gift for choosing the most idiotic lads in a Reserve where five hundred men worked.
Two weeks after starting her job at the Reserve, Charlie called every guy Cho had dinner with names and Cho silently hated each bimbo Charlie dated every night. Neither spoke to the other except for work issues, and that wasn't too often because their jobs had virtually nothing to do with one another's.
One night, during her third week at the Reserve, Cho found herself surprised when she saw Charlie enter the pub with a girl that looked nothing like the ones he'd been dating during the previous weeks. This girl wasn't... plastic. Wavy brown hair, big green eyes and full curves. Opposed to the blonde, skinny (almost skeletal in Cho's opinion) tarts that paraded the place on his arm before, this one also looked smart, which was definitely a lot more than she could ever say about the others.
Still shocked at seeing a brunette with Charlie, all her prejudices were put to the test that night. If anyone had asked her, Cho would be positive Charlie was one of those jerks who referred to girls like that as "the plump-y one", "the fattie", "the chubby gal". However, Charlie looked like he really was having a nice time, and by the time dessert was on their table, the girl's hand had started caressing his leg under the table. Cho would bet her Ravenclaw tie that the girl's rather shameless touch went too far north given Charlie's swallowed yelp and instantly red neck. Of course, it wasn't a second later that both disappeared out the door in a very intimate embrace.
"...play for the Chudley Canons."
"Of course, given the Canons' reputation, I rejected their offer-"
"-and decided to try out for the-"
"-green elves with magic purples cocks that fuck helpless old ladies on bridges with fantastic hanging tits."
Cho turned her head to her date. Damn, if only she could remember his name! "What did you say?" she asked, quite scandalised.
"So, that caught your attention! Maybe I should have done it right after the first course."
"Oh, I'm sorry. I was just..."
"Distracted. Yeah, I could tell." He sighed, leaning over his crossed arms on the table. "You wish you were dating him, huh?"
"Who?" Cho asked confused.
"The redhead. The one with the chubby girl."
Yep. Another jerk.
"You didn't stop staring at their table since they arrived. And now that they've left, you're staring at the door, clearly hoping he might come back and rescue you from this nightmare of a date."
"I'm sorry..." She flinched.
"Yes. Michael! I'm really sorry, Michael. I was just distracted. I didn't mean to-"
Michael sighed again. "Let's call it a night, huh? Better to save yourself from embarrassment and me from a probable low self-esteem episode," he said with a wink and a kind smile.
Cho smiled. "I'm still very sorry," she whispered.
"It's all right." He shrugged. "Hey, another story for my future grandkids! Or maybe not..."
They both started laughing, only to be interrupted by the waitress bringing the check.
"Thank you for being so nice," Cho said with a smile.
"It's okay. I've been there." He stood up and grabbed his jacket. "I speak from experience. Tell him how you feel. He might feel the same, and if he doesn't," he shrugged, "at least you did something." He smiled and headed to the door. "Take my advice. I promise you won't regret it."
"But I don't- I don't feel-" It was hopeless; Michael had already left, leaving Cho confused and alone with her thoughts.
Another weekend finally started, and Cho still hadn't exchanged anything but insults or angry remarks with Charlie. So Charlie followed her that Saturday morning as she made her way to the Romrick Mountains. Weekends were the most peaceful times at the Reserve; only a quarter of the regular workers were, in fact, working. Most had their weekends off and many left the village to visit their families.
Charlie noticed Cho had grabbed her broom and strolled up to the hills, humming soft tunes and taking in the scenery. Quickly, he fetched his own broom and started following her, being careful enough so she wouldn't notice him there.
Reaching the first cliff, Cho stopped and gracefully hopped on her broom, starting to fly at full speed over the vast green the woods offered.
Charlie watched her making sharp turns, risky tricks and leaning over the broom handle to increase the speed. Cho definitely had talent, and a technique that showed him this was not her first time on a broom. Some of her moves were worthy of a professional Quidditch player, although there were others that needed some polishing. He studied her quick and sharp spins, deciding she had probably played as a Chaser or a Seeker at some point during her days at Hogwarts.
Cho took her wand out and started casting spells at the woods below her that covered the trees with a violet dust for a few seconds before disappearing completely and making the leaves look much greener. However, as she kept working on her charms, an upset dragon came out from the tree cover and flew toward her at full speed.
"Look out!" Charlie yelled as he flew to where she was as quick as his broom would fly. "Stupefy!" he screamed, trying to divert the dragon's attention away.
Cho screamed as she noticed the dragon attacking her from behind and let go of her broom. Trying to get to her faster, Charlie bent over his broom's handle and grabbed her by the waist. The suddenly added weight made his flight falter, giving the dragon an advantage and it spit fire in their direction.
"Watch out!" Cho screamed pointing at the dragon as it came from the right.
Making a quick zig-zag move, Charlie avoided the attack, but hit his left shoulder against the rocks of the cliff. "FUCK!" he screamed in pain, not being able to hold onto the broom for much longer.
Both started falling to the ground, holding each other's hands until a collision with the trees separated them. The dragon's furious growls grew softer, telling them that it had flown away and left Cho and Charlie in the forest by the Romrick Mountains.
"Charlie? Are you okay?"
Cho couldn't get up, and Charlie was nowhere in sight. Her right foot was trapped under a tree trunk too heavy for her to lift, and even with the pain shooting up her leg she was worried that Charlie might be seriously harmed. A groan came from the left, and Cho started calling louder, trying to locate Charlie through the heavy curtain of trees and leaves of the forest.
"Over here. I can't get up!"
Charlie got up as fast as he could, ignoring the pain in his arm through a hiss and several deep breaths. A few metres from where he had fallen, Cho sat, clutching her right leg with both hands.
"Are you all right?" he asked, crouching at her side and examining her face and body before focusing on her leg.
They were both covered in cuts and bruises from the fall but nothing was as serious — or painful — as his arm or her foot.
"Yeah, it's just my foot. It's stuck under there; I can't get it out."
"Okay, don't move it," he instructed, touching her swollen calf softly.
"Are you hurt?"
Charlie smiled reassuringly. "I'm fine. Joy is gonna scold me for a while for hurting the same arm twice in the same month, though."
"Ah... So, what are we going to do?"
Charlie sighed and sat more comfortably at her side, trying to be careful with his arm. "Wait," he said with a shrug. "The dragon — who I bet was Tracey — has gone south, so I don't see it coming back anytime soon. They usually find food and take a few days to rest in the lake several miles from here." He lay down on his back, watching the leaves and branches overhead play with the sunlight. "You can't walk and, even as strong as I am, I can't move that tree trunk with one arm." He finished with a wink.
Cho laughed. "Strong, huh?"
"Hey, who saved your cute arse from being fried by a dragon...twice?" he said, looking at her with a quirked eyebrow.
She sighed. "You have a point there," she said, also lying on her back beside him. "Thank you, Charlie."
"Oh, stop playing silly. Thank you for saving my arse twice this month. Although, I'm seeing a pattern here."
"You do?" he asked curiously.
"Every time you save me, we both end up hurt," she said, pointing at his arm and her leg.
"Well, better getting hurt by ourselves than by others," he explained, softly looking into her eyes.
She looked back at him in silence before nodding, still thinking on what he had said. "True."
"Do you, by any chance, have your wand?" Charlie asked.
"No. I checked. It must have fallen out somewhere in between all this nature."
"Okay. That means we will have to wait until someone comes looking for us, then. I lost mine, too."
Cho nodded silently, feeling the soft breeze slip through the trees. And so, they started their wait in silence, thinking of what to say to the other. It had been almost three weeks since they last had a proper conversation and this was not the reconciliation scene they had planned in their heads.
"Charlie? Can I ask you a question?"
"When did you date Joy?"
"Joy? The nurse at the Reserve?"
"Yeah. She seemed pretty offended at the mention of you dating other girls on my first night here."
He chuckled. "Well, she's not the only one," he said, eyeing her pointedly. She just rolled her eyes silently and let him respond. "I've never dated Joy."
"Then why was she-?"
"I don't date co-workers," he explained firmly, as if making a statement not only to her, but also to himself. "It's my only rule. She has asked me a few times, but I declined. She is a beautiful woman, but..." He finished with a shrug, hissing at the pain it caused his arm.
"So...may I ask you a question now?"
"Where the hell did you learn to fly like that?"
She smirked at him with a smug expression. "Liked what you saw, huh?"
He snorted. "Oh, please... you need some practice, but-"
"Practice? Maybe you need practice. For your information, I was the Seeker of Ravenclaw from my third to my seventh year!"
"So what? Ravenclaw's Quidditch team sucks," he said, with not an ounce of apology in his words.
"It may have sucked when you were in school, old man, but it certainly did not when I wa—"
"Hey, yo, whoa! Who are you calling old man? Old man! Please! I'm in my best moment, baby. Thirties are the new twenties!" he said, offended at Cho's comment.
Cho laughed. "Then what am I? Ten?"
"No...no, you're...that'll make you—you...you'd be..."
"I'm twenty three, Charlie," she said looking at him with a smile. There was nothing more hilarious than a man trying to get out of the topic of age with a woman. Well, at least when the woman was offended by the topic, which was certainly not her case.
"You seem surprised," she mused.
"I am. You look way younger."
"Why, thank you. Don't know whether to take it as a compliment or —"
"It is. It's — it's a compliment," he reassured, staring at her kindly.
This was what they had both missed the most: the playful banter and awkward moments that made them like one another instantly, that made them feel like they had known the other for way longer than just three weeks.
"Sorry I was a total prick—"
"Sorry I acted like a jealous bitch—"
They had both started at the same time, but Charlie was quicker to continue talking.
"Jealous? You were jealous?"
Cho blushed, averting her eyes. "I- Not exactly- It's that-" She sighed. There was no way of giving Charlie an explanation without telling him how she felt — or thought she felt — about him. It was still too soon. Even though their chemistry had been evident right from the beginning, she didn't want to rush this. She had rushed her feelings when she was a teenager, and both times she had ended up being hurt. So, for now, silence would be her best defence.
It must have worked, because next thing she knew, Charlie was kissing her softly on the lips. It was short and sweet, but it held promise and unspoken words that were enough for both of them at the moment.
"Would you go out with me, Cho Chang?" he asked as he held her head close to his, making their noses touch.
"I thought you didn't date co-workers..."
"True. I don't. But only because I tend to not want to see the girls I date after that one dinner I have with them. With you... well, I already know I would like a second date."
She smiled and kissed him again.
"And some balls. All these girlish speeches are so sassy that even my brother Percy would be able to kick my arse," he joked, laughing with her as they held hands while lying on the grass. Getting serious once again, he asked, "Can I ask you one last thing?"
"Yes," she said, looking at him.
"What the heck does an Eco-keeper do?"
A/N: You've got this far, it's only polite to leave your opinion, isn't it? ;) Just kidding. However, I would LOVE to read your review. Your opinions are important to me :)