AN: Sorry it took me so long, guys! But here it is! And unfortunately... not to crazy-wacky.. Bit of a filler actually. BUT once we get passed the filler we can get into the good stuff... so.. on with the story?
Dedication: To my parents! Happy 23rd Anniversary!
Disclaimer: I own nothing you recognize from Harry Potter.
"Go fish," Amy ordered; she smirked as the wizard grumbled under his breath before reaching over the witch to grab a card from the pile between them. It was the weekend, and Amy and Charlie were once again alone in the Burrow. Charlie had once again managed to get off of work early since he knew his parents would be out of the house. Not wanting to leave the witch alone - which would inadvertently grant her the freedom to be as mischievous as she wanted – Charlie had pulled a few strings with some of the guys in the office, promising them that he would stay late for them in a few weeks if they covered him for the rest of the night. It hadn't been easy, and the wizard had needed to bribe his coworkers with a Fire Whiskey or two, but in the end he still managed to find himself at home with Amy.
Although, he was beginning to wish he had stayed at work instead of coming home to lose game after game of Muggle Go Fish to the witch. After the first three losses, he had suggested that they do something else, like Chess or Exploding Snap or making out, but Amy had responded to each of these suggestions with a delicate shake of her head before asking for another card. Charlie could have sworn, though, that the last suggestion had indeed made the witch blush a bit. As to why though, the wizard wasn't entirely sure. He knew they had both agreed to wait a while longer until Amy was completely healed and rested before taking things too far, but he hadn't expected her to seem so awkward about it. And it wasn't as if he brought it up every moment of every day, but when he did, it wasn't difficult to notice the slight flush in her face or her almost uncomfortable shifting. He had finally stopped bringing it up, feeling as though he was pressuring her.
So instead, Charlie resigned himself to playing game after game of Go Fish, which he could honestly say he was beginning to hate. It wasn't even that he hated the game but more the fact that it was impossible to win against the witch. It probably should have been easier for him to win seeing as his only competitor was Amy, but she seemed to have some occult ability to read his cards from the other side, and time and time again, Charlie found himself reshuffling the deck while Amy sat by with a bright grin spread across her face.
"You're bad at this," the witch broke in. Charlie looked up at her as she straightened the neat pairs of cards on her bed. "Did you know that?"
"For your information, little Miss Awesome," Charlie protested. "I am the best when it comes to Go Fish."
"Is that why I'm about to take your eights?" she asked quietly. She bit her lip and raised an eyebrow expectantly as Charlie looked down at his hand. There was a brief moment when the wizard thought it would be his turn to make the witch draw some cards before he caught sight of a lone eight peeking its way out from behind another card. He grumbled again and swore under his breath before pulling the eight from his hand and passing it to the witch. Amy smiled brightly as she took the offered card and set it down next to the other piles she had already won.
"This isn't fair, you know," Charlie proclaimed after he lost several more cards to Amy. "You grew up in the Muggle world. You must be some Go Fish prodigy or something."
Amy laughed loudly; she shook her head and her messy curls bounced around her face. "Right, because that's what Muggles specialize in," she agreed jokingly. "Card games designed for children."
"You Muggles can be pretty weird at times," Charlie said lightly. Amy's eyes went wide and a disbelieving smile spread across her face.
"Muggles are weird?" she asked, pressing her cards against her chest. "This coming from a man who grew up in a freakin' Wizarding world? With magic? You having flying cars and the ability to turn people into animals, and you think Muggles are weird?"
"Yes," Charlie said. "That's exactly what I'm saying." Amy narrowed her eyes at him evilly before looking down at her cards once more.
"Just for that," the witch laughed. "I'm taking you're Queens." Charlie pouted but before he even moved the witch plowed on. "And your three and Jacks." Charlie looked down at his cards; surveying them as the woman continued on in retaliation. "Fives, twos, and tens too." Charlie gapped at the witch who settled back against the pillows with a bright smile. She looked expectantly at him before back at the cards in his hands. Amy's smile only grew as Charlie pulled the cards out, one-by-one, before passing them to the witch.
"You're obviously having so much fun," Amy commented cheerfully as Charlie slumped down moodily in his seat having finished passing the majority of his cards to the witch. "Are you having fun?" She smirked at Charlie who glared playfully at her before looking back down at her neat piles of cards.
"So much fun," Charlie retorted blandly. "I could do this forever. You, me, and this corrupt deck of cards for the rest of our lives. We could have the wedding right here in this room, I'm sure Mum would love that."
There was a pause as Charlie's words sunk in, and they both realized what the wizard said. Immediately, Charlie's cheeks flushed red, and Amy looked away from the wizard and back down at her piles of cards; fingering the heavy paper of the cards to keep herself from looking at Charlie. Amy certainly hadn't thought Charlie would bring up the topic of getting married, and to be perfectly honest, Charlie hadn't even realized what he was saying until the words had escaped him. And now, all the wizard wanted to do was amend his words.
"I mean, not that we're getting married," he broke the silence hastily. Amy paused in her fidgeting and looked up at Charlie with questioning eyes. She seemed almost taken aback by what he had said, and once again, Charlie quickly tried to fix himself. "But that doesn't mean we're not getting married." Amy raised an eyebrow and Charlie again realized he was making himself one lovely hole. "I mean, we could get married, if we wanted to. Do you want to?" He looked at Amy for a brief moment as though he wanted her to respond before he continued on. "I don't want to." He shut his eyes in desperation, and he groaned quietly. "And by that," he said slowly, trying to gather his words before spewing out nonsense, "I don't mean that I don't want to get married ever. I just mean that we shouldn't force each other into it. We're both young, so why push it?" He opened his eyes wide now, the blue irises half-hopeful and half-desperate as he looked at the witch across from him.
Amy's face was rather stoic and she was quiet for a moment before she nodded and smiled grimly. Charlie desperately wished she would say something, anything to calm his nerves, or better yet, he wished he hadn't said anything in the first place. He wanted to know what she was thinking, whether she agreed with him, whether she saw this going as far as he did. Did she see them spending the rest of their lives together? Did she see that same image of her with the swollen stomach and baby clothes? Did she see the toddlers with reddish-brown hair and blue eyes that ran around with never-ending energy and optimism?
Charlie desperately wanted her to say yes: that she saw the kids, and the swollen stomach coupled with wacky cravings, and growing old, but she didn't.
She asked for his Queens instead.
"Are you sure about this?" Amy looked up from her suitcase and over to Charlie who stood in the doorframe. His arms were crossed over his chest and she could tell from his stance that he was extremely tensed – his white knuckles were testament to that. Amy sighed softly before looking back down at the bag on the bed. It was half filled with papers and clothes, the rest of which was spread out neatly on the cover of the bed, ready to be packed.
After much consideration – and begging on her part – Molly and Dumbledore had agreed that it was time for Amy to go back to work. The new semester had started almost two weeks ago, and the witch was incredibly anxious to get back. She would never admit it to any of her students, but she really did miss teaching and spending time with the many Hogwarts students.
So while Amy was thrilled to be going back to work and Molly was thrilled to see Amy so excited, Charlie was not the happiest of campers. He, of course, had been completely against her going back to work, especially so soon after the holidays, and he hadn't been subtle about his opinions either. Every day, Charlie would stand in the doorway of his room, his lips pursed tightly together and his eyes narrowed, and day after day he would ask the same question: "Are you sure about this?"
To say the least, it got old very quickly. For weeks, she had been complaining about being cooped up in the Burrow, and now that she was finally being released, Charlie was determined to make her stay. Of course, she understood where he was coming from, and she understood that they had been through so many rough patches as of late, but the only way to really finish the healing process was to get back to their normal everyday lives, even if that meant that the witch wouldn't be able to see her boyfriend for several weeks. She had done her resting but it was time to get back to her life and a big part of her life was at Hogwarts. Not to say that Charlie wasn't a big part of her life, he was a huge part of her life, but he couldn't expect her to give up her career simply because she had been attacked. If they really wanted to win, really wanted to throw their victory in the Death Eaters' faces, then she needed to show them that no matter how many times they cursed her, no matter how many cuts and bruises or nightmares she had, she would always bounce right back up. Charlie, however, didn't seem to be able to grasp this concept which was why this conversation had happened one too many times. It wasn't even funny how incredibly irritating it was.
It didn't help that the two were still a little off after their almost-marriage conversation. It wasn't as though Amy didn't want to talk to Charlie about it, but she had seen the way he had stuttered and stammered over himself, trying to correct whatever it was he was saying. Maybe he wasn't ready for marriage yet, and then again, maybe she wasn't either. Nevertheless, even if that conversation hadn't taken place, Amy would still be getting incredibly annoyed by Charlie's insistent coddling.
"Yes, Charlie," Amy said dully. "I'm sure. We've been over this. I'm fine and I'm ready to get back to work. I've been ready." She gave him a pointed look, hoping to get the point across but Charlie's stance didn't change. If anything, he became more rigid and he continued to speak.
"Are you sure you're ready though? No one would deny you more time, not after everything you've been through, I mean-" Charlie broke off as Amy threw a shirt down onto the bed with a tight hiss. Perhaps it was from being trapped inside the Burrow for so long or maybe it was because she hadn't been given the opportunity to truly be her sarcastic, temperamental self, but Amy felt anger slowly begin to build within her as Charlie continued to rattle on and on about why it was a bad idea for her to return to Hogwarts. The witch squeezed her eyes shut tightly and took a sharp breath. She knew he was only trying to be helpful, but this was one conversation too many, and she was fed up. She was going back to work, and nothing Charlie said would deter her from that.
"I am fine," Amy stressed through clenched teeth. She gripped the edge of her bag to try and calm herself from throwing a hex at the wizard. He was actually really starting to get on her nerves with all this coddling of his.
"Yeah, but it's only been two weeks!" Charlie protested, ignoring the tightness in the witch's shoulders. "You're still weak! You could have a relapse or something!"
Amy's eyes narrowed dangerously and she turned to face the wizard. Charlie took half a step back as he took in the witch's clenched jaw and flashing eyes. "I am not weak," she told him coolly. Charlie flinched at the harsh inflection, and the white strain in his knuckles died away. "You really think I'm weak after everything I've been through?"
Charlie blanched at the witch's accusative tone and he shook his head hurriedly, trying to amend what he had said.
"No, of course not!" he told her, taking a step closer to the witch. "You are one of the strongest people I know, and I understand that all of this had simply made you stronger, but taking some time off to rest and heal properly won't make you weak either. You may be strong, but that doesn't mean you can't get hurt. You're not invulnerable, Amy."
"Don't you think I know that?" Amy asked, laughing bitterly. "I've been living in a bed for weeks, watching as green and purple bruises slowly and painfully fade away. Clearly, I understand that I'm not invincible, and I know I'm still healing, but I can't heal completely if I'm stuck in this house day after day. It's too constricting, too repressive. Sometimes it feels like I'm back in that basement with the way you and Molly are constantly watching me, and I hate that feeling. I hate feeling so helpless and as though I'm back down there!"
The witch was breathing heavily, kind of thrilled to feel the frustrated anger course through her veins, and she threw down another piece of clothing with finality before continuing on, her voice thick but steady. Already, she could feel her anger giving way to a much deeper emotion as her memories washed over her and she thought back to her experiences in that basement with Avery.
"There's so much you don't know," Amy continued, her hands shaking at her sides. "All the pain, all the anguish I felt. I'm so incredibly damaged. Charlie, I'm scarred." Amy's voice cracked slightly as her mind raced back to the scar carved into her leg, but she forced herself to continue. "But that doesn't mean I'm weak."
Charlie's brow furrowed at the witch's shaking voice, not completely comprehending what it was that she was saying. One moment she was furious with him and the next her voice was thick with tears. He didn't know how she had switched so quickly between the two emotions but at the same time, he didn't know why she was so afraid to talk about her injuries. So what if she was scarred, and why did it sound like she was admitting something when she said that? He had seen her and all of her bruises for weeks, so why did it sound like a secret? Her scars and bruises were a testament of everything she had been through. They made her stronger, more beautiful, and it wasn't as though the fact she was scarred would make him stop loving her. In fact, this entire experience made him love her even more. It made him realize how important she was too him, how he couldn't live without her.
"Amy, I don't care if you're scarred," Charlie said quietly, voicing his thoughts to the witch. He took a slow step towards her, followed by another and then another until he was just before her. Reaching down, he pried Amy's fingers open and weaved his through hers until they were interlocked. "I love you, and that's not going to change anytime soon, scars and bruises or not. I know that I'll never be able to fully understand everything you've been through but that doesn't mean you shouldn't give me the chance. I want to be there for you every step of the way, and I can't exactly do that if you're at Hogwarts and I'm here, now can I?" The witch shook her head slowly, keeping her eyes downcast. Her hair had slipped over her shoulder to form a curtain around her so Charlie couldn't see her face, but he continued on nevertheless.
"Maybe I'm being selfish, not wanting you to leave, but I lost you once, Amy," Charlie whispered, leaning down so his mouth was just near Amy's ear. He squeezed her hands as he continued. "I'm not going to lose you again."
There was a quiet sniffle from behind Amy's curtain of hair before she freed one of her hands to wipe her nose. Peering up through strands of hair, Amy's eyes locked onto Charlie's.
"You better not," she told him with a thick, tear-laden voice. Charlie smiled faintly at the witch before he stroked her hair back and rested his hand on her cheek, running his fingertips over her soft skin.
"I won't," he promised earnestly. Amy sniffled a bit more before stepping completely into Charlie's embrace, wrapping her arms tightly around his torso. The wizard didn't hesitate a second before he too wrapped his arms around her shoulders, keeping her pressed as close to him as possible.
"I'm still going back to Hogwarts," Amy told him, her voice muffled against his sweater. Charlie bit his cheek but chuckled nonetheless, rather pleased to see Amy's persistence poking through her cracked exterior. "I know you won't be there with me every day, but that doesn't mean we will have lost each other. We'll just be separated, at least for a little bit, and before we know it, we'll be back together.
"And you can always come to visit," the witch continued. Her face was still pressed to his chest, but she didn't care. Amy could just feel his heart beating under the warm yarn of his sweater. "And maybe this time one of my students won't get cursed. We might actually be able to have a normal day together. I'm getting a tad bit weary of these dramatic, chaotic ones."
"You know you wouldn't have it any other way," he told her before leaning down to press a kiss to the top of her head. Amy laughed and placed a kiss on his sweater, just over his heart.
"Neither would you," Amy countered. She pulled her head away from his chest and looked up at him, her chin resting on his chest as she peered upwards. Charlie shrugged but didn't disagree. Every day was an adventure with the witch, and he would never trade that for a normal day. Normal was overrated, and he would much rather be abnormal and have the love of his life by his side. He would, of course, much rather have Amy home with him, at least for a little while longer, but he knew in the end that he really had no hold over the witch. Sure, they were in love and they were the most important thing in each other's lives, but that didn't mean he controlled her nor did she control him. He may not always like it, but it was one thing that he really loved about her: she wasn't one to give up easily, and the past few weeks were testament to that. Then again, neither was Charlie and he couldn't help but ask one more time…
"So, I really can't convince you to stay? Even for a day or so?" Amy smiled a bit at his hopeful voice and settled deeply into his arms.
"If I stay, I'll never leave," Amy told him.
"Is that such a bad thing?" Charlie murmured, his lips pressed close to Amy's ear. Amy shivered a bit as his warm breath tickled the soft skin of her neck and she pressed her face into his neck.
"It would be for my students," she reminded him gently, and Charlie made a disappointed noise. The witch was sure he was pouting but she didn't pull away to see if this was true. "I mean, I honestly doubt that their substitute is anywhere near as good as me."
"Love," Charlie started, "no one could ever be as good as you."
It was late at night when Amy finally found herself in front of the fireplace of the Burrow. She was distinctly reminded of the previous year when she had left Charlie after Christmas break. The couple had stood together in front of the fireplace then too. The only difference this time was that Molly and Arthur stood with the couple as well. Amy, of course, was anxious to leave. She wanted to get back to Hogwarts and settle in as quickly as possible. She had classes in the morning and it wouldn't benefit anyone for her to be exhausted after her extended holiday. Molly, however, seemed very insistent on checking to ensure that Amy had everything she needed – as well as things that she didn't need too. Yet, Amy stood dutifully by as Molly flocked around her, adjusting the scarf around the witch's neck, stuffing papers and loose socks as deep into the pockets of her bag as possible, and the teacher waited patiently for Molly's mothering to cease, even for a minute or so, during which she could flee back to Hogwarts.
As she waited for this moment, Charlie anxiously tapped his foot, glancing between the witch and the burning fire. Though the two had already argued over her returning to work and had already come to an agreement, the wizard was still nervous about Amy going back to the school. He knew that Hogwarts was undoubtedly safe, but he didn't like the idea of the witch being so far from him. Perhaps it was oppressive of him to think so, but it was just outside the grounds of the school that the witch had been kidnapped in the first place. Perhaps it wasn't so crazy of him to think she should wait a bit longer. But, the couple had agreed that it was useless for her to remain at the Burrow any longer. She had healed as much as she could in the Weasley household and she was no help to anyone wrapped up in that bed. He may not like it, but he wasn't going to stop her from doing what made her happy.
"Are you sure you have everything?" Molly asked for the umpteenth time. "Your clothes, and papers, and all of your books? Oh! I think I saw one of those Charms books of yours floating around here-"
"Mum," Charlie broke in hurriedly, not wanting his mother to go off on another aimless search for something Amy was not in fact missing. "It's getting late. We don't want Amy to be tired for her first class tomorrow, do we?" He raised an eyebrow expectantly to which Molly bit her lip. She shook her head and looked mistily between her son and Amy before stepping forward and pulling the younger witch into a tight embrace. Amy let out a small gasp as the mother's arms effectively cut her air supply off. Molly sniffed a bit and Amy spared a glance at Charlie who was smirking at them. With a half-glare at the wizard, Amy awkwardly unwound a hand and patted Molly on the shoulder.
"There, there?" Amy said, not really knowing what to say. Molly sniffled again before pulling away. She placed her hands on either side of Amy's face and looked the witch determinedly in the eye.
"You take care of yourself now," Molly ordered. "I don't want to hear from anyone that you've gone off and hurt yourself doing something stupid and irrational." Amy cocked her head a bit and made to argue but stopped when Charlie nudged her in the side. She shut her mouth and nodded quickly, realizing that any protest she made would merely keep her here longer.
"Of course," Amy agreed with a small smile. "Nothing stupid or irrational from me." Molly smiled brightly, obviously not detecting the underlying snarky-ness of her comment. The mother surveyed Amy's face for a moment more before she leaned in a bit, gesturing for Amy to do so too.
"Think about what we talked about, yes?" Molly whispered quietly, her eyes bright. Amy's eyebrows furrowed a bit in confusion until the older witch looked pointedly at Charlie, and the professor was immediately reminded of the conversation she had with Molly about Charlie and marriage. A low flush rose up on Amy's face, and she nodded hurriedly, embracing Molly once more before pulling away. She shared a much briefer hug with Arthur before moving to stand next to Charlie in front of the fireplace.
The couple had already said their good byes, for they had expected that they would not be alone upon Amy's departure. So with a brief hug and an even briefer kiss, Amy stepped into the fire place, Floo Powder falling from her hand as green flames licked their way up her legs.
AN: Hope ya'll enjoyed. Also, let's all take a good...oh... eleven months, and cry over Mark of Athena. I mean... REALLY? REALLY? Oh lordy... I finally finished it, and I immediately went over to my friend's, knocked on her door, and basically exploded. Everywhere. They're still sweeping my guts up. Damn you Rick Riordan...