Disclaimer: I only wish I owned the rights to Harry Potter and it's respective characters. I would have a lot less debt. Alas, I only write for fun.
A/N: This was written for the 2010 Charlie Ficathon on Livejournal, for DA_Angel729. It's pretty Hermione-centric, and there is an adult scene at the end. Forewarned is forearmed, right? Anyhoo, I hope you enjoy it. Big thanks to my beta, Kim, for looking over this for me!
The Man Across The Hall
When Hermione moved into the Burrow after completing her N.E.W.T.s, she didn't quite know what to expect. She found herself adrift. She had focused all her energy on helping Harry, then on passing her tests, and now that it was over she didn't know what to do with her life. Until she received her scores from the Ministry, she wouldn't be able to decide on a career path, although her friends were convinced she would pass with flying colours and be able to do anything she wanted. Hermione herself wasn't entirely sure she even wanted to go to work; she had more than enough money to stay home, continue working part-time at the joke shop, and babysit Harry's children. She wasn't confident about moving into the Burrow, either, but her own house had become a bit lonely over the years, and when Molly had invited her to stay at the Burrow when school broke for the summer, Hermione had jumped at the chance to live in a house inhabited by someone other than herself for a change.
It had taken three and a half years of steady rebuilding to get Hogwarts castle back into the shape it had been before the final battle. Once the Wizarding community had been convinced that the scourge of Voldemort was finally gone, and the Death Eaters were being steadily rounded up and tried by the Auror office, they began to come out of hiding. People began rejoicing over family members thought long dead that had come home, and burying the loved ones who hadn't made it through the war. People began to volunteer to rebuild the school in droves. Without all the extra help, the rebuilding of Hogwarts could have lasted years longer. As it was, the school remained open for those who wanted to attend amongst the renovation, and the numbers of students had been steadily climbing.
Hermione had only vague memories of the summer after Harry's defeat of Moldy-Shorts, as Ron had taken to calling the despot. There were certain moments she could remember vividly, and some aspects were a blur. The numerous funerals the Golden Trio attended were part of the blur, as if she was subconsciously blocking out the harsh reality of how many had died in the war. The vivid moments Hermione could recall with no issue. Ron getting an owl with a gold CC stamped into its seal, then whooping as he lifted Hermione and swung her around, exclaiming that he had been invited to play with his favourite team as keeper, and the long conversation they'd had after that, deciding that a long-distance relationship simply would not work for them. Upon later rumination of that discussion, she realized that she and Ron didn't exactly have feelings for each other beyond close friendship, and the one kiss they had shared had been in the heat of battle. Given time, they could have become fond of each other, but it would take a lot of hard work on both parts, and she didn't want to have to work that hard at loving someone.
Another moment was when Ginny showed her the engagement ring Harry had given her, her brown eyes swimming with unshed happy tears. Hermione was happy for her, and happy for Harry. He was finally getting the one thing he'd always envied his friends: a quiet life and a family of his own to love. Hermione spent a lot of time helping Ginny plan her wedding, then helping Molly plan a baby-shower, then babysitting Ginny's children. She found she liked children a lot better than she had originally thought she would, and considered teaching.
She could also remember vividly the short trip she had taken that summer to Australia, to track her parents down. She didn't have any problems finding them, but when she did, she found a happy middle-aged couple with a new practice, a six-month old baby and no idea of their former lives. It was a hard decision to make, but her parents seemed happy, so she left her Memory Charm in place and made her way back to her hotel, where she cried herself to sleep. She spent the entire next day exploring Sydney and buying souvenirs for her friends before making her way back to England.
Her parents had owned a townhouse in the suburbs of London, where she had grown up. The house was paid for, and she hadn't felt compelled to get rid of it, as undoing the Fidelius Charm she had placed on it at the end of her sixth year with herself as secret keeper would be more trouble than it was worth. She moved in, thankful that the Death Eaters hadn't managed to damage or destroy it, and set about to cleaning all the cobwebs off of the furniture. It was about a month after she'd moved in that a stately owl bearing a heavy envelope pecked on the window. At first glance, Hermione thought that it was from the Ministry, but upon perusal of the seal she found it was from Hogwarts. She gave the owl a treat, and then ripped the envelope there as the owl waited patiently for a reply. It seemed she would receive her chance to find out if teaching was the career for her. The Headmistress needed someone to teach Transfiguration, and there were few options that were as knowledgeable as she, or so her letter claimed. Hermione wasn't as confident in her abilities as Professor McGonagall seemed to be, but she wrote a letter of acceptance anyway, and proceeded to pack her trunk in preparation for September 1.
It only took two years for Hermione to decide that teaching was certainly not her forte. It wasn't that she didn't enjoy the subject, but it was obvious she wasn't very good at conveying her meaning in words. Thinking back, she wasn't exactly surprised. She'd never been very good at tutoring while in school; she simply didn't have the patience. She had always found it quicker and easier to just tell the person she was helping the answer, rather than help them find it themselves. She held out until the end of her second term, then tendered her resignation, much to the chagrin of the Headmistress, who was now stuck with the chore of finding a replacement.
As Hermione methodically packed her clothes into her trunk in preparation for departure on the train the next day, she heard someone clear their throat noisily from the doorway.
"I'm sorry to see you go, my dear," Professor McGonagall said from the doorway with a slight smile.
"I guess I'm just not cut out for teaching," Hermione replied as she shared a brief hug with her mentor. "I think I'll take my N.E.W.T.s this summer and find out where my aptitude lies. I've always enjoyed research, maybe I'll see what I can do at the Ministry."
"The best of luck to you, then. I know you'll succeed in anything you put your mind to, although I do wish you would stay."
"I'm afraid I might maim one of your students, and then where would we be?" Hermione asked with a light laugh as she glanced over her quarters to make sure she hadn't forgotten anything. With another short farewell, she made her way to the front gates of the school and Apparated to an alley close to her house. The next week, she went to the Ministry and sat her tests, leaving with the confidence that she had done exceedingly well.
A week later, the day before she was due to receive her scores, she'd received a heartfelt letter from Molly asking her if she would like to come keep an old couple company. With the twins back in their apartment, Ron gone most of the year, and Ginny in her own house, Molly missed having people around the place. If she was interested, she could keep Molly company and have three squares a day. It would save her money on groceries and living expenses, and wasn't she a bit lonely in that big house all by herself?
Hermione had to grin at the note, and realized that yes, she was a bit starved for friendship, but she wondered what the catch was going to be. Molly rarely asked for or did something without a purpose, even if it was simply to take care of one of her many "children."
Hermione locked up her house, her shrunken bed and trunk rubbing against her leg from her pocket. Even though she was confident that whatever room Molly planned on providing her with would have a bed, she didn't like the idea of sleeping in any other bed than her own. Not without a bit of trepidation about the unknown future, she walked to the alleyway which had become her Apparition point and popped away, appearing a few minutes later at the edge of the Burrow's wards. She stood still for a few minutes, looking up at the crooked house that held so many memories, when she heard the kitchen door open and slam shut. She pulled her gaze down, expecting Molly or Arthur to have come out to meet their visitor, but was surprised to see the bare back of a broad-shouldered, rather muscled, stocky man making his way toward the garden shed, his arms full of boxes. She watched as he kicked the shed door open, dropped the boxes with a slight "oomph", then stood up and wiped the sweat from his brow. His flaming red hair gave him away, and Hermione suddenly came to the realization she'd been checking out Charlie Weasley's arse in his tight, cut-off jeans.
"C'mon in, Mum's been waitin' on ya." Charlie shouted over his shoulder with a smile towards her, as if he knew what she'd been doing all along. Hermione blushed, nodded and made her way towards the house. As soon as she came in the door, she was caught up in a warm, tight hug. Hermione hadn't realized how much she missed what she called "Mummy Hugs" until they weren't available to her whenever she wanted. Blinking back the wetness in her eyes, she pulled back and thanked Molly for inviting her to stay.
"Not at all, dear, we don't mind at all. It was getting a bit lonely, actually, what with everyone moving here and there, and I knew you were all alone in that house with no one to take care of you. Now, I know you are old enough to take care of yourself, but sometimes we just need someone around to talk to. You've got your pick of rooms, go ahead upstairs and choose one. I'll have supper done in about an hour or so." With a content smile, Molly made her way back to the kitchen. Hermione was happy to see the lady in such good spirits; the stress of the war had taken its toll on everyone.
When Hermione reached the second floor, she began to poke her head into different doors, trying to decide on a room for herself. The first one was an explosion of pink: Ginny's old room. Hermione pulled a face and slammed the door shut. She had never been much of a girly girl, and the thought of all that saccharine sweetness made her gag. The next room had burn marks in the floor, and had previously been full of boxes. Realizing what Charlie had been hauling out to the shed, and why they couldn't be shrunk, Hermione shut that door also. She shuddered to think about what she might lay down or step upon. She'd already been punched by a telescope in this room long ago; she didn't fancy any more unexpected injuries.
The next room she poked her head into was rather nice, and had two queen size beds, both made up with colourful quilts. As she made to step into the room, she heard a throat clear behind her.
"That's my room, but you are more than welcome to share if ya want," Charlie said with a disarming smile, his blue eyes bright in the dark hallway. "If not, I'd go with Percy's room. It's by far the cleanest, and it'll get me out of hauling any more boxes."
Hermione, who had been focusing solely on Charlie's bare, freckled, sweaty chest, simply nodded dumbly in agreement. When she didn't move, Charlie simply chuckled and gently put his hands on her shoulders and pushed her backwards a few steps, giving himself just enough clearance to step around her. He pulled on a t-shirt from his chest of drawers and stepped back in front of her, waving his hand briefly in front of Hermione's face.
Hermione's brain was in overdrive. So that's why Molly had asked her to move in. Not so much to keep her and Arthur company, but to set up Charlie. She was playing matchmaker, of course. Well, Hermione decided, she wouldn't have it. Charlie Weasley could piss off, for all she cared. What was he doing there, anyway? Didn't he have a job? When she caught the movement of his hand, her gaze snapped up to his. Charlie held his hand out to shake and said, "Nice to meet you. I'm Charlie, the man across the hall."
Hermione simply sniffed in reply, shook his hand briefly and turned to go check out Percy's room. She was not overly pleased when Charlie followed her with his running commentary.
"Oh, thank Merlin you are going to choose that one. I've been hauling boxes all day, and they can't be shrunk. I tried, and got singed for my efforts. I didn't know the twins had created all these items, and when I sent them an owl this morning asking about moving the boxes, the little blighters told me I owed them for the inventory I blew up. Am I bothering you? See, I tend to ramble when I'm a bit nervous, and as we don't know each other well, you make me a bit nervous. After all, I've seen you wield a wand, and you're good. I mean, really good, and could easily hex me balls off, if you took a mind to."
At this, Hermione grinned maliciously as she slowly pulled her wand out of her pocket, and Charlie suddenly got quiet and started backing out of the door,
"Sorry, I'll leave you to it. Didn't mean to be a bother. I think I'll head downstairs and see what Mum's whipping up. See you in a bit."
As she listened to him thunder down the stairs, Hermione laughed heartily for what seemed like the first time in a long time. She turned towards Percy's bed, shrunk it and placed it in a desk drawer. She pulled out her own bed and trunk and proceeded to enlarge them, placing them where she wanted. She set about unpacking her things and turning the bedroom into her own, until she heard Molly calling her down for dinner. She supposed it was time to find out more about this man across the hall.
At the end of that summer, Hermione had finally made some life decisions. She knew it sounded lame, but she simply liked her life as it was. She enjoyed working for the twins. They were very easy-going, undemanding bosses, and she could use their backroom to practice her potions brewing any time. She liked babysitting for Harry and Ginny when they wanted an occasional night out. And she liked living at the Burrow with the couple upstairs and the man across the hall.
The morning after she moved into the Burrow had been a nervous one for Hermione. She paced the kitchen relentlessly, until Charlie had pointed out the speck on the horizon that was the ministry owl. She'd bitten her fingernails impatiently, watching as the bird neared. When she'd finally got the envelope in her hands and the owl had taken off, her hands were shaking too hard to get the seal open. Charlie had kindly taken the envelope from her and slit it open with the tip of his wand. He glanced over the results, and looked up at her, with smiling eyes.
"You received O's in everything, of course. Did you really expect to not pass anything?" he asked as she ripped the paper from his hands and hungrily read the scores for herself. She had, indeed, scored O's in all of the subjects she had taken, and was informed, furthermore, that she had achieved the second highest scores in history. The only person that had outscored her was Albus Dumbledore. She could have just about any job she wanted, so she started looking into different careers.
The problem lay in the fact that she had no interest in a desk job. She wasn't overly interested in doing paperwork, and any entry-level job at the Ministry would involve both. She wasn't interested in fighting anymore, so the Auror office was out of the question, although Harry told her that he would have been more than happy to work with her. She wasn't active enough for the Magical Sports division, and furthermore hated flying. She found out that she was more than content researching spells and helping Fred and George come up with new joke items. Working for the twins really was her ideal job.
Every time the subject came up of her moving back to her own house, Molly would quickly change the subject, asking her about her day or finding out what she wanted for dinner. As the summer slowly ended, Hermione decided to list her parents' house for sale, even though she didn't really need the money. She tried to offer Arthur a monthly stipend, but he wouldn't have it, claiming that keeping Molly happy made him happy. After speaking with a realtor and deciding on an asking price, she asked Charlie if he was willing to come help her pack up her furniture.
"We can shrink these things, and they won't explode," she explained from the hall, where she'd knocked lightly on his door to ask for his help. "But I thought that two wands might go faster than one, and we can put everything in my trunk."
"Sure, I'll help, but why not just leave the house. You might want it someday," Charlie pointed out reasonably as he opened the door to invite her in. She sat on the side of the bed and pondered on the thought for a moment.
"You know, I think you're right, I might decide to get married some day and start my own family. I'll just nip on down to the village and phone the realtor now," Hermione replied with a slight chuckle. "Be serious, Charlie. I'm not planning on marrying any time soon, and have no prospects, and the house is just sitting there collecting dust. Who would be interested in a nosy little bookworm like me?"
"Oh, you might be surprised," Charlie replied softly as he sat on his own bed. "What are you going to do, stay here with Mum and Dad forever?"
"Of course not, but for the time being this works for us, and the house is a nuisance. I've already gone through the trouble of undoing the Fidelius Charm on it."
"So, you put another on, although I don't think that's even necessary any more. Come on. Let's go see this house you are so determined to be shod of." Charlie stood and offered her his hand. She took it without hesitation, letting him wrap his arm around her waist. She smiled at the comfortable gesture, remembering fondly the first time he'd done so.
A week after she received her N.E.W.T. results, Hermione had sat at her desk, penning a letter to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, politely declining the clerk position they'd offered her. The offertory letter had been apologetic, stating that entry-level positions were all they had to offer, even though she was thoroughly overqualified. Hermione had simply shaken her head at the thought of mounds of depositions and trial reports and almost gagged. She had just sealed the envelope when there was a slight tap at her door.
"Come in!" She shouted as she gave her letter to the Ministry owl, as it had been patiently waiting for close to an hour for her to pen her most diplomatic declination. As the bird flew off, she felt the heat of someone standing just behind her, and a chin rested lightly on the top of her hair.
"Watching birds fly away always depresses me. It's something leaving and never coming back." Charlie's voice came from above her, slightly wistful. She turned to face him, to ask him what was wrong, when he smiled disarmingly at her and offered her his hand.
"Want to go for a walk?" Hermione simply nodded in agreement as she took his hand. They walked once around the perimeter of the yard, then started making their way through the orchard towards a small fish pond Arthur kept on the back side of his property.
"Charlie, can I ask you something?" Hermione began, a bit unsure of herself.
"You just did, but go ahead." He laughed as she scowled and punched him lightly on the arm.
"You know what I meant. What I want to ask is why are you here? Not, here here, as in on the earth, but here, as in at the Burrow? Don't you have a job you need to go back to? Do dragon tamers get a long holiday I didn't know about?"
"Weeeeell," Charlie began, dragging the word out as he thought about how to explain. "You remember Bill's wedding?" At Hermione's slight nod, Charlie continued, "See, apparently the manager at the Dragon reserve didn't think 'I'm going to be late to my brother's wedding and he'll kill me if I'm not on time, and trust me he knows Goblin curses,' is a good enough excuse to ride off on a Norwegian Ridgeback alone. That got me my first write-up."
"Ah, and the suspension?" Hermione asked, patting the grass next to her. Charlie sat down next to her, wrapping his arm around her waist as he did so.
"Don't get ahead of me, now. The suspension came later, at the beginning of this year, as a matter of fact. But the second write-up came when I disappeared for an evening with no warning to help out during the Final Battle."
"I see. So, what was the next one?"
"Well, I went back, made my apologies, and kept my nose clean until this past spring."
"Oh? What happened this time?" Hermione couldn't help but be curious about what had got him in trouble this time.
"Victoire simply wanted to see a baby dragon. How was I supposed to know that we couldn't take children into the pens?" He threw his arms up in a dramatic gesture. "No one bothered to tell me. Fleur got all angry, and started cussing me up one side and down the other in French. Bill laughed his fool arse off, and I got sent here with a year's suspension. At least they are still paying me, or I'd be kicking William's arse from here to Egypt and back. He's the one who gave me permission to show Victoire the baby dragon in the first place."
For all his put-on anger, Charlie wasn't actually bothered by the idea of a year off. He would have to go back, keep his nose clean for another six months or so, then he could go back to his reckless ways. He hadn't been aware, though, of his mum inviting the little curly-headed woman to stay in the house with them, and hadn't realized it was Ron's friend until Molly had called her by her name. He'd decided that first day that he was going to get to know her much better. He continued to entertain her with stories of life on the preserve, and as the sun went down, they made their way back to the house, his arm wrapped comfortably around her waist.
As they made their way up the steps to the townhouse, Charlie looked up and whistled slightly. "Nice place," he muttered as Hermione pulled the key from her pocket and opened the door. They had no sooner got inside the living room than Charlie had her pinned to the wall of the foyer, kissing her with all the emotion he had pent up for the past three months. If Hermione was taken by surprise, it didn't last long, as she was soon kissing back with a frenzied fervour. She grabbed at Charlie's shoulders, her small hands not quite able to grip all the way around them. He leaned down, not breaking their locked lips and picked her up, bridal style.
"Where?" He broke away to ask her, both of them panting in the oxygen they so desperately needed.
"Go left, there is a couch in the sitting room, but it might need a Cleaning Charm," Hermione replied as she yanked her wand out of her back pocket and pointed it in the general direction of the room in question. A quick wave and the dust that had settled on the furniture over the weeks disappeared. When she smiled at the magic, Charlie claimed her mouth with his again.
"You have no idea," he spoke between kisses to her neck, "how long," another kiss on her clavicle, a small nip that made her squeak and grab handfuls of his scruffy hair, "I've waited to do this to you." He finished as he sat her on the couch and knelt on the floor between her legs.
"I was wondering what was taking so long," She teased as he growled and yanked her toward him by the knees. She squealed as she was tugged down the couch and giggled when he started pulling her sandals off, tickling her feet.
"I know a faster way," she whispered as she grabbed her wand again, "Divesto."
Suddenly, they were both starkers. Charlie stood back, and Hermione sat up, both of them examining the other's body. Hermione wasn't overly surprised to see the Chinese Fireball curled up on Charlie's stomach, nor the Swedish Short-snout stretched out on his hip. His chest and back were also very tan, so dark that his freckles were almost unnoticeable, as he spent a lot of time outdoors and shirtless. Hermione ran her fingers lightly across his chest, feeling the soft red hairs that lay there, and watching as his small nipples hardened. When he groaned, she moved her hand further south, gently massaging his balls as she waved her wand in a complicated pattern over the couch, enlarging it, then over her tummy, casting a Contraceptive Charm. Satisfied, she tossed her wand onto the coffee table and backed toward the makeshift bed, Charlie following her, his hooded eyes glazed over with lust.
Giving her one last heated kiss, he turned her around, her back to him, and pushed her onto her hands and knees on the bed, and knelt behind her, running his hand over her arse lovingly, coming down with a light slap. It wasn't painful, but surprising, and Hermione was astonished when she felt her nether regions becoming even wetter than they had been. At another, slightly stronger smack across her other arse-cheek, she moaned slightly and pushed back into Charlie's hand. He groaned deep in his throat as he kicked her legs apart with one knee and cupped her mound with his hand. He rubbed her softly a few times, his middle finger steadily sliding deeper into her slit. She rocked with him now, encouraging him to delve in.
At the feel of her warmth on his fingers, Charlie bit his lip as he felt his cock surge. He ran his finger up her slit one last time, finally resting his middle finger on her clit. He began to rub maddeningly slow circles around it, across it, her moans and pants growing steadily as she tried to stave off her orgasm as long as possible. When she finally started shouting in earnest, and come started flowing from her, he didn't relent. Pulling his hand away from her briefly, he summoned his wand from his pants, wherever they were, and conjured silken ropes, tying her loosely in place so she couldn't wriggle and suffocate him. Satisfied with his work, he also conjured a glass of water, then froze it, then shattered it. Taking a small piece of ice into his mouth, he lay down so that her dripping mound was above him and took her clit in his mouth, using his tongue to hold the piece of ice next to it.
Hermione screamed her pleasure, jerking her hips in reflex, the ropes holding her legs open. She moaned as Charlie finally pulled his tongue away from her clit and finally, finally, pushed two fingers into her waiting hole. He continued to steadily push his fingers into her as he tongued her nub, she shouting her ecstasy to the world. He continued on with no mercy as she came again, screaming her orgasm as he pumped three, then four fingers into her, stretching her. Before experiencing it for herself, seeing the size of Charlie's hands, she would have expected it to hurt. But, the stretching, filling sensation set her nerve endings on fire and all she wanted was for him to fill her more.
As if reading her thoughts, Charlie pulled his hand from her and took one last swipe at her clit with his tongue, and the ropes disappeared. He helped her turn over, her hair coming out of its ponytail, her face flushed. The sight of her after the first orgasm simply made him want to snog her again, so he did. Leaning forward, their lips meeting in an almost chaste kiss, he picked up her legs, helping her place her feet on his shoulders as he entered her in one swift thrust, groaning at the tightness of her warm, wet centre.
He started slowly, wanting to enjoy it, but with the insistent rocking of her hips and her whimpers, he began to stroke her in earnest. Before long, he was slamming into her. She had placed her feet on the bed for leverage, and raised her hips to meet him thrust for thrust. He could feel the pressure building in his gut, and determined to make her come again before he did; he reached between them and pinched her clit lightly between his thumb and forefinger, using their juices as lubricant to rub her quickly and roughly.
Charlie felt her walls tighten around him and she came with a scream just moments before he felt himself release inside of her. He pounded into her a few more times, slowing down with each thrust, then finally came to a stop inside her. He felt himself go flaccid as they lay still, panting, her head resting on his chest. After a few minutes, she pushed lightly at his shoulders and he rolled off her, only to pull her towards him in a spoon position a few seconds later. Summoning her wand to herself from the table, Hermione whispered a quick Cleaning Charm and they both dozed off into a light sleep.
Hermione woke about an hour later, sore, but satisfied. On second thought, she decided that she would indeed contact the realtor the next morning and cancel her listing. Perhaps this house would come in handy someday. Maybe she would get married, have children and pets of her own. After all, she'd already fallen in love with the man across the hall.