Hermione's terrified screech cut through the night, breaking up the discussion Charlie was having with Bill as they walked back toward Hogwarts from the forest. They looked at Hermione and then followed her stricken gaze to the Astronomy Tower. Bill grabbed Charlie's arm in a painful grip.
Bill kept his eyes on the tower as his brother took off into the castle. The swaying figure standing on the edge of one of the windows commanded everyone's attention. No one made another sound, all of them afraid to startle the young man into taking a misstep.
Charlie fought to keep his mind from the mental image of Harry standing in the window of the Astronomy Tower. All it would take is one step...
Charlie had finally admitted to himself that he felt more for Harry than a 'brother' should. He had spoken to Bill and Ron about it more than once; they, together with Hermione, had convinced him that Harry felt the same for him. Now, it looked like everything might go horribly wrong.
He quickly ran up the steps and cautiously opened the door. Harry's head turned slowly to look at him and his jaw dropped open slightly. Charlie could see tear tracks on his cheeks and heard the whimper that Harry gave as his jaw clicked shut. He looked into Harry's stunned green eyes.
"No, Love, I'm not. Here..." He held out his hand to Harry. "See, I'm not dead. I'm right here, I won't leave you. I'll never leave you."
"They said that you were dead, that you were killed by a rogue Death Eater this morning." Tears continued to fall from Harry's eyes, the eyes that he couldn't trust himself to believe. Charlie was gone. They said that one of the Weasley boys had been killed that morning. As he had been standing with Bill, Ron, Fred and George at the time, that left only Charlie unaccounted for. "You're not real, I'm imagining this! God, please, just let me go! I can't take this!" He turned back to the window.
Charlie wrapped his arms around Harry's waist and dragged him from the edge of the window. "I'm real Harry, touch me, go on...touch me, see for yourself that I'm really here." Harry lifted a shaking hand to touch Charlie's cheek, running a cautious finger down until it rested on the pulse point. Harry threw his arms around Charlie's neck, threatening to choke him, while he buried his face in his shoulder. The sobs that wracked his body now came from relief, not sorrow.
"It is you! It's not a dream, it's really you!"
"It's me Harry. I'm not going anywhere...I'm here." Charlie ran his hands up and down the distraught man's back. He pulled Harry closer into his embrace, not wanting to be even a few centimeters away from the one he loved. Harry looked up and hesitantly pressed his lips to Charlie's, groaning at the feeling of finally getting something he had wanted for a long time. Charlie moaned in return, one of his hands leaving Harry's back to card through his hair.
Harry pulled back slightly and looked into his eyes. "They said you were dead."
"I don't remember, but they said that one of the Weasley boys had been killed by a rogue Death Eater. I was standing with Bill, Fred, George and Ron, you were the only one it could be."
Charlie sighed. "No, Harry, I'm not the only one it could have been."
"No...not your Dad!" The tears threatened to fall again.
"No! Dad's fine. He's with Mum right now. There is, or rather was, one more Weasley boy."
"Percy." Harry breathed the name of the one Weasley no one had heard from in years.
"Yes, Percy. But whoever told you this was right in one thing, I was there." Charlie's breathing became laboured and he lowered his head. "Percy surprised me as I was returning from scouting around with Remus. He stunned Remus, who's fine by the way, and was going to kill me. He had his wand aimed at me and had started to say the killing curse, but I beat him to it. Percy was the rogue Death Eater that you were told about." Charlie's shoulders began to shake. "I killed my own brother."
Harry wound his arms around Charlie's neck again and pulled on him until he was almost lying in Harry's lap. He held Charlie as he silently cried for his brother, the brother that no one had really known. "Bill and I were returning from burying Percy's body when we heard Hermione scream. I think my heart stopped when I saw you standing in that window."
"I didn't want to keep going if you weren't going to be here, even if it wasn't with me. I've known that I love you for ages, but I thought you were straight."
"Yeah, about as straight as a paper clip. I've been talking with Bill and Ron for a few days now, and they both told me that you feel the same way I do. I love you Harry. I don't ever want to be without you."
Harry crushed Charlie's lips with his own, the force of his body making Charlie lay flat on his back as Harry agreed with him without words. The sound of a slight cough drew them apart.
"As happy as I am that the two of you have finally admitted your feelings for each other, if you don't get back down there and put everyone's minds at ease, you're going to be faced with a crowd of people up here. And something tells me you'd rather not be disturbed" Ginny Weasley stood in the doorway, looking anywhere but at her brother and the man on top of him.
Charlie chuckled and pressed a light kiss on Harry's lips and then stood, holding out his hand to help Harry to his feet. Hand in hand, they walked slowly down the stairs. When they reached the bottom, Charlie turned to Harry and placed a knuckle under his chin. "I don't ever want to be without you, Harry Potter. Please say you'll stay with me."
"I wouldn't have it any other way, Charlie Weasley, and I wouldn't want it any other way."