This is for ReillyJade's Academy Awards Competition at the Harry Potter Fanfiction Challenges Forum.
The quote I was given and which inspired this story is: "I loved her so much. I'm never going to feel that again. It doesn't happen twice." ~Brendan Harris, Mystic River.
At first that shouted Snape/Lily to me, so I tried writing that, but it didn't work, so after a rethink, I decided it would work just as well, and maybe even better for Charlie and Tonks. Charlie, Tonks and Bill belong to JKR of course.
"It's wrong, isn't it?" Charlie looks at his elder brother warily. Bill wonders if he thinks that he's going to thump him. Even if he wanted to, or thought that Charlie deserved it, he wouldn't have had the energy to do it. It's been a rough couple of weeks.
Bill sighs, and tries to decide what to say. In the end, he goes for an easy answer, turning the question back on the questioner.
"Why would you think it was wrong?" he asks.
Charlie looks at him incredulously. "What kind of a question is that?" he demands. "Fred was my brother. Dorie was..." He hesitates just a shade too long. "Dorie was just a friend."
Bill is watching him keenly. Charlie has turned his face away, but Bill knows him well enough to know that his brother is close to tears.
"She was an awful lot more than a friend," Bill says quietly. "You were in love with her once." There is a questioning tone in his voice, which Charlie hears but decides not to respond to. Instead he responds angrily, taking his feelings out on his brother, because to pretend to be angry is easier than to acknowledge what he really feels.
"However I used to feel about her," he blazes, "that was years ago. She was married with a kid for Godric's sake. How can it be right that I cried more at her funeral than at my own brother's? How?"
Bill sighs again and frowns. "I don't think there's any right or wrong about it, Charlie," he says softly. "You can't help what you feel. And no one would suggest that you aren't upset about Fred. No one's keeping score you know."
Charlie swallows. "I know," he mutters. "Sorry, Bill."
Bill puts a hand on his shoulder briefly and stands up. He turns and goes back into the house, leaving Charlie sitting alone on the low wall between the yard and the garden. In the house there are lights, and warmth and company, but Charlie is not ready to go back in yet. But he is not alone for long. Bill rejoins him a few minutes later, two open bottles of beer in his hand. He gives one to Charlie and sits down on the wall beside him again, taking a swig from his own bottle.
"Did - do - you still love her?" he asks bluntly.
Charlie is startled into answering honestly. "Yes," he says. He swallows hard. "Always have, always will." He swipes his hand impatiently over his eyes and takes a long draught from his beer. "So much." His voice cracks. "I can't imagine feeling like that for anyone else ever." He avoids looking round at Bill, but he can feel his brother's sympathy. Bill says nothing, but puts a hand out and rubs his brother's back gently as he cries.
After Charlie composes himself, the two of them sit on the wall for a long while, saying nothing, drinking their beer and watching the evening sky darken into night. Eventually, they stand and make their way into the house together. Neither of them ever talks about it again, but somehow Charlie finds his loss a tiny bit easier to bear because someone else knows and understands.