Un Coup de Fourde, or Love at First Sight

Following his divorce from Isadora, Charlie's flat fell into a dire state of disrepair. He had retired from dragon taming to start a family with Isadora, never expecting her to betray him with the young woman he believed to be her best friend.

After a month of forgetting to eat and tripping over his messes, he got desperate. Cleaning charms were never his strong suit, and he could never find anything again when he cast a Tidy-Up. There was nothing for it. He needed to acquire a house elf or someone willing to do similar work for a very low reward. Charlie's job down at Flourish and Blott's didn't exactly pay galleons per hour, to leave his other coffee-serving jobs completely out of the picture. And to think that he'd thought he would have no trouble getting a job at the Ministry when he first moved back from Romania to England. Who could have anticipated that his training overseas wasn't good for anything but taming dragons?

He mentioned his intentions at dinner with Ron and Hermione, and got such a lecture from Hermione about indentured servitude that he felt quite sick at the thought of forcing some poor creature into washing his dirty shirts and cooking for him. The next morning he placed an advertisement on the cork board in Flourish and Blott's and waited to see what would happen.

A teenaged girl, barely out of Hogwarts, applied and he hired her for a trial week. After three nights of burnt dinners and once again having no idea where anything was he was forced to realize that this was going to be a lot harder than he thought. He just didn't have time to pick things up himself, not when he was juggling three jobs, and he desperately missed eating a home-cooked meal every one in a while. He was tired of mooching off of Ron and George.

He had higher hopes of a middle-aged woman named Blanche, but she insisted on doing things in a way that drove him mad with frustration.

He was beginning to give up when he received another application by owl, this one from a young man who said he was a student at a local Muggle University and wanted another job on the side. Though the letter said that he could only work three evenings a week for 2 hours apiece, Charlie was desperate and he didn't need full-time help in the first place.

He owled back that he would love to do a trial week, setting the starting date for that Saturday; now all he had to do was wait and hope it wasn't some old enemy of his come to get revenge.

He wondered what his name was; the letter had simply been signed L.L.

~000~

Two sharp knocks announced L.L.'s arrival. He was early.

Charlie opened the door to reveal a slim young man with extremely regular features. He was possibly the handsomest man Charlie had ever seen in his life. But even more than his features, what caught Charlie's eye was his clothing. He wore a shirt of almost painful whiteness and a deep green necktie with a fine pattern. Not only was the necktie itself stylish, but it had been tied in a perfect knot, every twist and dip exactly as one might see in a men's fashion magazine. Charlie could never have tied a tie so well, and he found himself wondering how he did it. Was it an inborn talent or the fruits of disciplined practice? His trousers were dark gray, and he wore brown tasseled loafers. Everything looked brand-new, as if he had just put it on for the first time a few minutes before.

IT had been a rainy morning, but just then the sun came out and the room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was spawning snow and pink roses against it. The bright and pink light fell on L.L., and Charlie felt something swell to a giant size in his chest. It hurt and thrilled him at once.

He found himself blinking rapidly. L.L. smiled vaguely and held out his hand.

"I apologize for my early arrival, but I over-estimated the distance of your flat from mine. I am Lysander Lovegood. It's a pleasure to meet you."

The name sounded familiar. Charlie forced himself to stop blinking and gaping, and shook his hand. "Have we met before?"

"Once, a long time ago, when I was very small, at Rose's birthday party. I am Luna Lovegood's son."

Charlie's eyebrows rose. Shit, had it been that long ago already? It seemed like yesterday that they'd celebrated Rose's 10th birthday. And now she was all grown up, engaged and everything. He must be getting old. And now that he thought about it, he could remember a pair of adorable blonde boys hiding behind Luna's legs.

"Lovegood? I thought your surname was Scamander?"

Lysander stepped inside and removed his shoes to copy Charlie's socked feet, "It was. However my brother and I have chosen to retain our mother's maiden name since their divorce."

"Oh Merlin I'm sorry! I didn't mean to bring up a sensitive subject-"

Lysander straightened and shrugged his concerns away, "I understand that you have only been living in England for the last six months, and you were never well-acquainted with my mother. You had no way of knowing."

"Well, I'm still sorry. Would you like some tea?"

Lysander nodded and followed him to the kitchen. Charlie put the kettle on and Lysander began opening up cabinets until he found the tea tin, biscuits, and cream.

"Sorry there's no sugar; I don't take it, and I'm not used to guests."

"There is no need to apologize. I don't take it either." And with that, Lysander rolled up his sleeves and began washing the dishes in the sink. Charlie almost protested, but then he remembered that he had effectively put Lysander on trial and that stopping him would just be weird.

~000~

Lysander was an angel. After the first week Charlie was convinced that he was in some way psychic, because he cooked Charlie's favorite meals without ever asking him what he was hungry for and put things away exactly where Charlie would have had he the time.

Every night he opened the door to find Lysander standing there, that something in Charlie's chest expanded to temporarily rob him of speech. He wasn't sure how he managed it, but every time he saw him Lysander seemed even handsomer. His soft-looking blonde hair was usually tied up, but sometimes Charlie would see it down, and during those times he was utterly convinced that Lysander was angelic.

Charlie was fascinated by Lysander's every move. He became happy that Lysander was there in the evenings, because that meant that Charlie wasn't at work and had leisure to appreciate him in between filling out paperwork for Flourish and Blott's. He was in charge of their mail-order system and it was a pain in the arse. One look at Lysander was enough to dispel even his stormiest temper.

Embraced by him, even ordinary paper bags from the supermarket looked elegant and artistic. Maybe he had some special way of holding them. Or possibly it was something more basic than that.

One night Charlie finished early and joined Lysander in the kitchen to help chop vegetables for stew.

"How old are you, if you don't mind my asking?"

"Nineteen."

Charlie started, "You're nineteen?" He had pegged Lysander's age at closer to twenty-two. Lysander was closer to Lily's age than Rose's, then.

Lysander shrugged. "I'm old for my age."

"I can see that."

Charlie did his best to not be completely obvious as he looked Lysander over. Nineteen? It was unbelievable. There was none of the girlishness most boys just entering manhood retained in their bone structure. Though thin, Lysander was very fit and looked like he could break someone's arm off if he got in a temper.

They sat down to eat about an hour of relaxed chatting in the kitchen later, and when they had finished Charlie boldly asked, "Would you care for a little after-dinner liquor?"

Lysander nodded, smiling. He didn't smile much. He didn't look upset, or frown, or seem annoyed either. He just seemed calm, like a shaman or some other holy person. Charlie was charmed by his smile and stood to examine what he had in his liquor cabinet. It wasn't much. He'd studiously avoided alcohol after his initial three-day bender when Isadora left him. After that he locked it and only opened it for a finger of whiskey on a cold night, or if he'd had a nightmare.

"What do you drink?"

"Whatever you give me. I'm not picky. Just not too strong, please. I still have to make the journey home."

Charlie bit his tongue on an offer to come and live with him. He lived closer to the University than Lysander, and would happily have cleared out his study to give Lysander a space of his own. But he didn't want to scare him off. He'd rather have three nights a week with him than nothing at all. His mother always said it was stupid to be greedy.

The ice cracked and chinked against the sides of the glass as the alcohol trickled over the cubes. He wasn't even sure what he was making. He took a sip. It was good. He handed Lysander the untouched glass and Lysander's smile spread.

They sat and talked. Lysander was meant to have left an hour ago, and then two, but he didn't move, so Charlie continued to talk and to draw him out. Lysander was very shy, but once you cracked him open he could flood you with words. He noticed so many interesting things and thought about things in such a logical but strange way that Charlie would have gladly listened to him talk for the rest of the night.

But no matter how hard he tried to focus on their conversation, he couldn't help but drift off every once in a while, simply watching Lysander's lips form words and his eyes express emotions. He'd lit his fireplace, and the yellow light turned Lysander's hair a reddish-gold very different from its usual almost gray-blonde.

Lysander stopped talking. Charlie didn't notice until his gray eyes looked down, and then up again, and he said, "Charlie…why do you stare at me like that?"

Without asking permission from his brain, his mouth opened and said, "I want you in every way a person can be wanted." Charlie was horrified at himself and would have apologized had Lysander not smiled that faraway smile of his and said,

"Oh. Good. That's what I hoped it was."

"…What?"

Lysander leaned forward and kissed him. It was only for a moment, but the swell in Charlie's chest burst and flooded him with euphoria from his hair to his toes. He carefully cupped the back of Lysander's head in both rough palms and kissed him. Lysander responded slowly, lazily, and scooted closer.

Lysander did not go home that night. Several months later Charlie worked up the guts to explain how much more convenient it would be if Lysander lived with him. Lysander responded affirmatively.

It wasn't for another five years that Charlie found the courage to tell Lysander that he'd loved him from the moment he first saw him. Lysander just smiled at him and touched his face.

"I know."

And though they lived together for the rest of their lives, Charlie was never quite tired of looking at Lysander.

~000~

End Un Coup de Fourde

Just something that's been in the files for a while.