So here is the final, sexy installment, which you KNOW you were all waiting for. :P In case anyone cares, I was listening to "Crash Into Me" by the Dave Mathews Band on repeat almost the whole time I was writing this chapter. I encourage listening to that song in general because it's good music, and I especially encourage giving it a listen while reading this chapter, as I'm sure it had an influence.
WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING: This chapter has a higher rating than the rest of the fic. IT HAS SEX.
Part IV - Entwined
Charlie, Hal, and Duarte always sat at the same table in the pub when they weren't working, and that was where they sat now. Duarte kept buying Charlie more beer, because he thought Charlie was depressed or something. Charlie glowered down into his drink and thought he probably was.
Three years. Three years of cruel, teasing letters. He sent them every month or two. The apprenticeship was going well, and Charlie should expect no less from a genius like him. (He must be working his arse off, Charlie fretted, not sleeping or eating enough . . .) He'd been injured at an Incan temple, but had manfully ignored it long enough to finish his mission. (It was probably a paper cut and he'd probably whimpered like a child, Charlie thought fondly, he was not the type to suffer in silence.) He was moving to Argentina for a while, because Paolo wanted him to take a couple of classes there. (That was good, he needed a break, he'd been working so hard.) The boys in Argentina were gorgeous, especially a particular youth named Santiago. (And gorgeous Santiago's hands were all over him, weren't they? How had Charlie not considered the sick feeling he'd get, thinking about someone else touching him?)
Three years. Three years of writing those cruel, teasing letters and missing him until it hurt. Draco knew it was mean to make him worry so, but it was also fun. And sometimes, there would be a letter in reply. His communication was always open and jovial and holding his words was like holding a piece of that candle-lit warmth that Draco missed so much. Draco was constantly staying up all night to study and work, but never to talk the way they had done together. That belonged to him, and him alone. Dancing, yes, and drinking, swapping study notes or greedy sloppy kisses on Draco's beat-up second-hand furniture . . . But never golden summer nights baring his soul. Santiago had never seen him cry. He'd only had it for a few short weeks out of his entire life, but Draco missed his company so much it hurt.
"There he goes again," Hal said in disgust.
Charlie looked up from his drink. "Me?"
"Yes, you," Duarte said, rolling his eyes. "You been, what is that phrase, off your feed, my brother. Ever since that trip to see family during the war."
How was Charlie supposed to have explained what had happened to him? He'd just called it a trip home and lived with the crap they gave him for leaving without saying anything, and for coming back too quiet.
"Emil even says that lately, you two don't . . . you know," Hal waved his hand to encompass Charlie and Emil.
They were the only two gay men working for the refuge, and quite possibly the only two in all of wizarding Romania. They had an arrangement. Lately, Charlie hadn't cared to take advantage of that. It was really, really, really not any of Hal or Duarte's business.
Draco had been introduced to many things by Michael, never telling him why out of an entire continent of sexy accents and sun-kissed skin he'd wanted his first time to be with a proper Englishman. There were many things he did not tell Michael, and that was fine. There were many things Michael did not tell him, either. It was just an arrangement. Things with Santiago weren't complicated, either. Draco liked things to be simple when he knew they wouldn't last.
"More?" the bartender grunted, waving the bottle. He probably spoke perfectly good English, living as he did among so many foreigners, which meant he was just rude and taciturn. There was a certain nostalgia about this kind of barkeep, after Draco had gotten so used to the skimpy outfits and effervescent personalities in disco clubs. So Draco smiled and nodded, and took another drink gladly. Liquid courage.
"You very need to get laid, brother," Duarte said with confidence.
Charlie grimaced, because it was so true. Too bad the person he kept thinking about was on the other side of an ocean, living it up with Santiago, the smooth Argentinean bastard.
"Please tell me you've at least noticed the guy at the bar," Hal said. "He's perfect for you. If you haven't at least been checking out his ass all night, I'm going to take you to the hospital."
Charlie hadn't so much as glanced up in an hour, but just to make Hal happy, he did. And damn, but Hal was right. That had to be the world's most perfect butt. Attached to a slender, lithe body, the owner of which had shirked a robe in favour of tight pants tucked into dragon-skin boots and a loose white shirt that showed flashes of smooth golden skin and was topped by a head of hair that had been baked in the sun so long it was nearly white but for the golden highlights. Despite himself, he was interested. Very, very interested. Straight guys did not wear tight pants with dragon-skin boots. Oh, tonight was going to be a good night.
Then the golden beauty turned around and Charlie stopped breathing.
He hadn't changed. He didn't tan in the sun, he just freckled, and he'd clearly been spending a lot of time outdoors recently if the spray over his nose and cheeks was anything to go by. If anything, his chest and shoulders had gotten even more broad. There was a new burn scar on his neck that was worrisome, framed by red hair that badly needed a trim. Blue eyes had become more dull, maybe with drink or maybe with thoughtfulness. He seemed more serious and less playful than Draco remembered.
Perhaps it was time to stop spying on him.
Draco had waited, after the war had ended. Waited to hear about the safety of his own family and of the Weasley family. Waited until he'd made up his mind that he did want to see his mother, but not yet. Waited until he'd finished his studies with Paolo, waited until he was able to convince Santiago that Merlin himself could not keep Draco in Argentina and Santiago had not actually done anything wrong.
Then he'd come straight to Romania. Walked into the pub where he'd heard the dragon-keepers liked to drink, and sat down and started looking for Charlie. He wasn't hard to find. It was just a matter of working up the courage to do anything. A lot had changed in three years. Draco had changed. He wasn't a spoiled and scared child anymore. He'd worked to grow up, and it wasn't just the callouses on his palms that told him how far he'd come.
Well, if he'd come this far, it would be stupid to stop here.
He turned around.
Charlie was already looking at him, lust in his eyes, although now shock was bleeding into his expression. Draco held back a laugh at the completely dumbstruck look on his face. Draco had left as a skinny little ghost, but the sunshine and hard work had agreed with him all too well. He'd stopped worrying about whether or not he was attractive quite a while ago.
He'd been teasing him by letter for three years. He could hardly stop teasing now. He took a notebook from his shirt pocket.
He even walked differently, by Merlin. What had they been feeding him over there? He was taller, tanned, graceful, confident— he was bloody sinful, he was. Charlie could do nothing but stare. He didn't even feel stupid for doing it, because Hal and Duarte were staring, too.
A page was torn from the ever-present little notebook and held up for the table to see.
I believe you gentleman have something that belongs to me.
The other two raised their eyebrows, and the golden head just nodded in Charlie's direction. He had a wicked smirk on his lips. They both turned to Charlie with awe.
Charlie stood up. "Draco Malfoy, you utter bastard," he breathed out. "Would a letter have killed you?"
Draco smirked and scrawled out Who knows? Why take the risk?
"I'm going to kill you. You almost gave me a heart attack. Here I was feeling guilty for staring at your arse, and it was your arse."
Draco's shoulders shook with silent laughter. Then he wrote another note and dropped the open notebook onto the table.
Goodnight, gentleman. I might give him back tomorrow.
He hooked a single finger into Charlie's collar and pulled him forward. It was as effective as dropping a lasso over him and dragging him out. Charlie followed him without a word, eyes traveling over the nape of his neck, down his back, and getting caught once again on his butt before moving over his legs, and finally, as they exited out into the street and were sharply bitten by the autumn wind, he looked back up into Draco's face. Draco smiled, and Charlie held his breath. It wasn't some sickly twist of his lips anymore, it was an actual smile and it was wicked and divine. Then Draco raised his eyebrows imperiously.
Charlie suddenly realized that Draco was expecting to be taken to his place. Oh. Well, then, that answered that question. And, wow. He was sure of himself, wasn't he?
He didn't know how long he could keep up his act, especially when his heart was beating out of his chest. His pulse was thundering in his ears, with nerves and lust alike. Three years. Three years of wondering if this still meant anything. Wondering if all it was ever meant to be was simply the catalyst for Draco to grow up. It was possible that their time together was to be nothing more than a fond memory, but he hoped—oh, he hoped.
Charlie hadn't wanted to be his first anything, Draco remembered. He hadn't been. Not his first crush, not his first love, not his first partner. But he was the only one that Draco had truly wanted. This was the man he'd chosen, and by Merlin he was going to have him. Draco hadn't cared if anyone had loved him, desired him, or respected him—just Charlie. He thought he could live his entire life on one approving smile from this man. He'd worked damned hard for this. So it made sense that he was so nervous he was practically shaking, didn't it?
Charlie lived in a tiny flat above a bakery. He drew his wand and started a fire in the hearth, and Draco shivered as he glanced around. Charlie's home was exactly what he'd hoped for. Cramped with too many things in too small a space. It was a cozy, haphazard patchwork of overstuffed furniture covered in several days' worth of newspaper and a few hand-knitted jumpers that had been shucked off and left lying about. Charlie was back-lit by that warm glow, looking just as he remembered—hard and broad and strong, his hair curling around his neck and framing his confident grin.
He didn't remember the last time he'd felt so nervous about something like this. Why did it bother him, Draco being here in his house? It was hardly the first time he'd had a guy over. But Charlie's heart was pounding as he stared at the young man—the light was playing across the angles of his face and glittering in his sharp eyes, and still that wicked smile was on his lips. But Draco's hands were curling into fists, hiding themselves in the loose shirtsleeves disguising his slender wrists, so Charlie couldn't see that he was nervous, too.
He wanted this.
He wanted this to work, more than anything. He wanted this to be good, and he wanted them to wake up tomorrow morning knowing that they were together. Charlie was tired of games and tired of arrangements and tired of how cold his warm little flat sometimes felt. He wanted to be with someone. He wanted it to be Draco, who was so hard to impress and so hard to gain the trust of. Draco, who was the greatest challenge of his life. Draco, whose feet tangling with his and whose hair tickling his shoulder had made him feel more right than he ever had in his life.
"Why don't you sit down?" Charlie asked suddenly, shoving a pile of freshly-laundered trousers off the couch. Draco didn't move, just followed him with his eyes. "Get comfortable, so we can talk. I want to hear more about your work. Er, do you want something to drink? Or—"
He had turned to the kitchenette, to see if he had any clean drinking glasses, and suddenly he was being shoved violently forward and spun around. His back hit the wall with a thump just as Draco's lips crashed onto his. It hurt. But he kissed back anyway. Draco's hands were on the wall on either side of Charlie's head, bracing himself as he leaned forward. He grabbed Draco's shoulders and hung on for dear life as Draco's punishing kiss drew him further and further in.
He pulled his head back, wondering if he'd just made a huge mistake. Charlie chuckled, smoky with drink and lust. He touched a two fingers to his lips and they came away bloody. He seemed to be waiting for something, just looking down at his bloodied fingers. Draco didn't know what he was doing anymore, but he lowered his head and flicked his tongue tentatively over Charlie's fingertip. Charlie inhaled a quick, shocked breath, and Draco slowly drew Charlie's finger into his mouth, sliding his lips further down, taking in the coppery tang of Charlie's blood. Charlie's hands tightened on his shoulders. It should have been a warning, but Draco's eyelids were fluttering closed as he focused on the play of his tongue over Charlie's skin.
Charlie swung Draco around and slammed him into the wall, reversing their positions, making a framed picture of the Weasleys rattle above their heads and making the logs shift in the fireplace and release a series of loud popping noises. Draco had time to gasp before Charlie's kisses began in earnest. He tried to push Charlie back—he liked being the one doing the pinning—but it was like trying to move a brick wall. He writhed, thinking he could slide away, thinking to tease a bit more. Charlie grabbed him by the wrists and pinned him to the wall, spreading his legs wide and trapping Draco with his body. With his wrists pinned beside his head and with no way to get a good foothold, Draco didn't have the leverage to get away.
Well, he wasn't going to let Charlie just win.
He turned his head, began trailing kisses over Charlie's neck. Not soft, sweet kisses. Draco had discovered he had no affinity for soft or sweet. These were sucking kisses, with teeth. He nipped his way down Charlie's throat, making him shudder, and finally his grip relaxed enough that Draco got a hand free. He slipped that hand under Charlie's shirt, circling around his side and teasing lightly at the skin on Charlie's lower back.
When Charlie was putty in his hands, Draco returned the kiss to his mouth, slowly turning as he did so, until Charlie was the one facing the wall again. Draco began to pull back, but he kept Charlie's lower lip between his teeth for a moment, finally releasing it only when Charlie made a noise of pained protest.
Charlie didn't want to know how Draco had developed this particular skill. He just wanted more of it. He hadn't even realized Draco had gotten the upper hand again until he started feeling like his lip was about to tear off.
"So you like to fight, do you?" Charlie whispered with a fierce grin that made his abused lips throb.
Draco didn't smile back. His eyes were huge and dark and glittering. Charlie pushed himself away from the wall, and the forward momentum carried them all the way to the tiny bedroom. They fell onto the bed, Draco underneath him. Draco's jaw jutted out in determination, and he writhed his hips, trying to buck Charlie off. Charlie shivered with anticipation. He used his knees to pin Draco down and began to strip him of the loose white shirt. Distracted, the blond reached up and began to peel Charlie's leather jacket from his shoulders.
Draco honestly wanted Charlie to win, now, he wanted that muscled body to pin him down and overpower him, but he wasn't going to make it easy. While Charlie was busy with two pairs of boots, Draco was sitting up. As soon as his pants came off, he pushed Charlie down and began sinuously trailing kisses over his stomach. He puffed out warm air as he moved further downward, sliding his hands over Charlie's thighs, feeling the muscles bunching under his touch, feeling the light fuzz of his hair.
He curved his hands around the backs of Charlie's legs, lifting him slightly as he moved to grip Charlie's firm arse and lowered his head a bit further, nuzzling his nose in the curling hairs just above—
Charlie finally realized that Draco was just distracting him from his aim of dominating the younger man. So he reached down and got a grip on Draco's forearms and dragged him up, much as it pained him to do so. Draco resisted, but Charlie was stronger, thus Draco was pulled inexorably up, his smooth skin gliding over Charlie's erection and making him mutter incoherently. Finally, he'd dragged Draco up onto his torso. He slid his fingers into Draco's silken hair, and took a deep breath before he initiated a long, steady kiss, which he maintained as he slowly turned them and moved Draco underneath him.
Draco looked up with his eyes glazed and his lips parted in a satisfied, silent ah. Then they widened as he realized what Charlie had done. His hands lifted up to push Charlie off, but Charlie grabbed them. He put up a furious fight, and Charlie knew he didn't want to do this all night. The solution came to him disturbingly quickly. He looped the bed sheet around Draco's wrists and tied him to the bed post. Draco's eyes were huge, but Charlie couldn't find anger in that snapping, sparking gaze.
"I win," he breathed, leaning down to kiss him.
Draco bit his shoulder hard. Charlie closed his eyes and shuddered with pleasure. Draco looked surprised for a moment, then the sheen of sheer power filled his eyes.
They took their time getting there, and by the time they joined, Charlie's shoulder was raw and Draco's wrists were bruised. The snap of his hips drove Draco hard into the mattress, but Draco strained against his bonds and arched himself up, fighting to be the one to set the pace.
The muscles of his thighs were trembling with need, with burning need and with the beginnings of exhaustion from his fight. He was drunk with it: with desire, with pain, with pleasure, with the taste of Charlie's blood, with the lust he saw every time he put up resistance.
Charlie filled him up and made him shudder, his hands clenching into the sheet that bound his arms over his head, his stomach tight and coiled and just needing, and his ability to tease and pretend just fell away. He gasped for air.
"Yes," he whispered, his eyes rolling back.
Charlie stopped and stared down at him. "Did you just . . .?"
"Don't stop, you idiot."
"But you— you found a spell! You can speak! When did you—"
"Later," Draco hissed, writhing his body and rolling his hips up. "Hurry," he pleaded. "Oh, please, just hurry."
Rather than continuing, Charlie licked his lips and gazed down on him in awe. Draco was flattered, certainly, but he needed and he needed now. He began moving again, slowly setting the pace. He clenched down on Charlie, squeezing him and making him gasp for air. By reflex, the man began moving again.
"Yes," Draco whispered softly, rocking his hips. "Yes."
Charlie licked his lips again, staring with hunger at the way Draco's throat moved when he spoke.
"Charlie," he hissed out.
Charlie shuddered as though Draco had bitten him again. Draco couldn't help his grin as he continued moving, driving Charlie to move faster again. Faster still. Yes. Oh, yes.
"Charlie," he said again, and felt another shiver go over the bigger man's spine. "Charlie!"
Charlie climaxed to the sound of his own name in Draco's voice. His lover was pathetic, Draco thought with a drugged sort of fondness as Charlie let out a guttural groan and slumped over Draco, spent.
"Hey," Draco drawled.
Charlie looked at him with glazed eyes.
"Get back to work."
He was violent and demanding and power-hungry and selfish and he had a voice. Charlie shuddered when he heard it. Draco's voice was crisp and smooth. Charlie had heard him speak once, for a moment, three years ago. He'd sounded broken, helpless. This voice and this man—were anything but that. "Get back to work," he said.
Charlie did as he was told.
Draco panted, turning his head back and forth. Charlie was obeying—nice and slowly.
"I'm going to kill you," Draco gasped.
Charlie just laughed. By the time Draco came, he was jerking at his captured wrists and writhing around in agony, and he bucked his hips up with a wordless cry that was somehow even better than the sound of Charlie's name.
After that, Charlie was commanded to untie him. He did, but then he laid down, stretching his body out beside Draco's, and hoped they would fall asleep this way because he wanted to wake up with Draco in his arms. He gently kissed Draco's raw, bruised wrists. Draco just smirked at his bite wounds. Oh, yes. This was what he'd wanted. Draco wasn't kind and he wasn't generous. He was exactly what Charlie wanted.
Draco curved his body against Charlie's, unashamed to lie beside him like this. He looked damned sexy naked in the firelight and he knew it. His wrists ached, but then Charlie's shoulder would probably have to be bandaged so his shirt collar wouldn't irritate it any further. He hadn't known what he'd wanted when he arrived in Romania, but he knew that this was it. This was exactly it.
"I don't work tomorrow," Charlie said lazily.
Draco arched an eyebrow at him.
"Let's go say hi to my family."
Draco sighed, but Charlie just smiled at him.
"We have to tell them you're back."
Draco made a face.
Molly would hug him and make him dinner. The house would be warm and full of light and it would smell like heaven. Draco liked this, here with just the two of them, but it didn't feel like "home" yet. It would. They would make it so. But for now, he knew where to go to get that feeling. Arthur and Molly ought to be well past their reservations now. Charlie running away and staying gone for so long had made them regretful, nearly losing him had made them start to change, and now that the war was over, Draco was going to make them love it. Love Draco. Just see if he didn't.
"Do we have to?" he muttered.
Charlie wondered if Draco honestly thought he was fooling him, or if just the pretense was enough. Not that it mattered. Either way, he was bringing Draco home tomorrow. This time, it was for good.