Warnings: Slash and sexual situations
Written for the One Hour Competition
Prompts: Romance (genre) and Sweet (mood)
"I do love you, you know."
"And you love me too?"
"Of course. I'm still mad at you, though."
"Sometimes I think you love those dragons more than you love me."
"Of course not. I just know that you won't die if I leave you alone for more than five minutes."
"There are other people there to look after them."
There's silence for a moment.
"You could always come with me, you know."
"My job's at the ministry, Charlie. You know that."
"I know that," Charlie confirms. "Just like you know that my job's in Romania."
Harry wants to ask why their relationship isn't working like he thought it would, but he's afraid of the answer. "I'll see you when you next get time off, then," he sighs instead.
"Love you, Harry."
"Love you too."
He's too depressed that his date had fallen through to cook his own tea; instead he gate-crashes Ron and Hermione's evening. They don't mind; Rose is teething, and Harry's always been good at entertaining her.
"Busy again?" Hermione says sympathetically as she throws some pasta into a pot.
"Again," Harry confirms. "Like always."
"It'll get easier, Harry, I'm sure," Hermione says, before swearing as the pot begins to boil over. Harry winces; he should have known to wait until it was Ron's turn to cook before coming around for dinner.
"Yeah," he says resignedly. "I'm sure it will. But when?"
"And this is Greenback," Charlie says, pointing at a hatchling with a stripe of green running along its spines. "And here's Wavewalker – don't look at me like that; I didn't name them. And Fredrick and Georgina – they're twins I did name those two."
Harry snickers. "Georgina?" he asks.
"We didn't know she was a girl," Charlie says ruefully. "We really have to stop naming them before we know their genders. We get it wrong more often than we get it right."
He tosses a piece of meat into the not-so-small dragon's mouth, and tenderly stroked the tip of its head. Harry is reminded of a scene he'd witnessed several years ago in a small wooden cabin, the first time he'd ever seen a dragon. He can't hold back a smile as Charlie coos gently at the small, orphaned thing. No wonder he and Hagrid got along so well.
He feels guilty for all those times he's wished Charlie would give up dragon keeping and return to England. Who cares if it would be easier on the two of them; how can he ask his boyfriend to give up something he clearly loves so much?
"You're kidding," Harry says flatly. He says the words, but he doesn't think they're true.
"He'll never be able to be released into the wild," Charlie says, a pleading note entering his voice. "Not like the other ones we raise. He can't get any more than a few feet off the ground, and he'll never be able to fly for any sort of long distance. He can't breathe fire – he's barely a dragon at all! What do you want me to do with him?"
"Dragons aren't pets, Charlie!" Harry exclaims. "You of all people should know that!"
"I do! And usually I'd never even consider it. But Har-" Charlie stops midsentence, and Harry narrows his eyes suspiciously. He's glad they're having this conversation face-to-face, rather than through the floo network like they normally would. There are some things that you need to hear from your boyfriend in person. Like the fact that he's adopting a half-dragon.
"But he won't survive out there!" Charlie continues hastily. "You know that I wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't necessary. The reserve would never let me keep him, for starters."
Harry swears quietly. "I used to think Hagrid's fondness for crossbreeding was just some innocent law-bending," he says, eyeing the scaly thing curled around his chair. "But now I see why they have regulations."
"Even Hagrid wouldn't crossbreed a dragon," Charlie says. "I'm amazed it even worked."
The half-dragon stretches out lazily, his tongue flicking out to taste the air. Harry feels a pang of pity for it; forsaken at such a young age… and after all, it doesn't look too dangerous...
"It's got a crup tail," he says. His voice is grudging, but Charlie smiles widely at this change in attitude anyway. "And it does look harmless enough."
"We're the best people to look after it," Charlie says eagerly.
"What happens if we don't take it?" Harry asks.
"It'll be executed."
There's silence for a moment, and Harry wishes the person who'd crossbred two such different creatures was still alive, so that he can crucio them until they think better about what they'd done.
The cross-breed makes strange sight; half-fur and half-leathery scales, it looks nothing like either of its parents. "And you're sure it's perfectly legal for us to take it?" Harry says grudgingly.
"Of course. It's all been cleared with the ministry."
"Does it have a name?"
"It's a he. And because of the scars on its snout and the fact it's an orphan… we decided to call it Harold."
"Yes. After you."
Harry groans. Now they have to keep it.
It's been far too long since the last time they'd seen each other. Harry has been hungering for it all week, and he barely has the patience to wait until Harold is out of the room before he practically dives onto his boyfriend, pinning him to the couch as he snogs him senseless.
"Blimy, Harry," gasps Charlie, as Harry attacks his neck. "Slow down, will you?"
"No," Harry growls, thrusting his hips down onto the bulge in Charlie's pants. "Haven't seen you in ages. Missed you."
"So… hah… so I see," Charlie pants out, his fingers sliding down Harry's body to pull the younger man closer to him. "But still… if you don't stop… oh!"
Harry's grin is feral and he begins to grind down on Charlie even harder. He's close, so close, and Charlie is gasping beneath him. Fuck, he looks almost edible, and Harry's moans soon join the cacophony of sounds that Charlie is already making.
"Shit, Harry," Charlie gasps finally as he comes. Harry groans as he watches him orgasm, rubbing himself hard against Charlie's leg. He slides his hand into Charlie's jeans and moans in pleasure as he feels the warm, sticky mess the red-head has made in his pants. When Charlie's hand creeps down to palm the bulge in Harry's pants, he shudders as his orgasm sweeps over him.
Their orgasms came on so fast, and they're too tired to move from the couch, so they just lie there. Charlie winds his arm around Harry, and Harry allows himself to be held. He's so tired from working all week, and the rush of emotions (and other things) that he felt upon seeing Charlie has worn him out. He could very easily fall asleep right there. Charlie's breathing is deep and even now, and Harry can tell just from that that his boyfriend is in the same state.
They're interrupted by a loud chirrup that comes from the hallway. "That is a ridiculous noise for a half-dragon, half-crup to make," Harry murmurs sleepily. "He should roar like a dragon or bark like dog. Not chirp like a bird."
Charlie's chest rumbles as he laughs, sending pleasant vibrations through Harry's body. "He sounds like he's hungry."
"Then go feed him."
"You're lying on top of me. It's easier for you to get up. You should do it."
"He was your idea. He's your responsibility. You do it."
"Get off me then."
"Fine." They lie there for a moment, before Harold chirps even more insistently. Reluctantly, Harry rolls to the side of the couch, grumbling, so that Charlie can get up.
"You can get up too." Charlie nudges him. "We'll be having tea in an hour."
Harry just mumbles something that sounds like "Go away", and snuggles into the comfortable couch. When Charlie returns to the room, he's fast asleep, and the dragon-keeper smiles fondly before pulling a blanket over him.
"He ate my shoe!"
"Your brother, Ron. Who do you think?"
"Well what do you want me to do about it?"
"I don't know! He was your idea!"
"You agreed to let me keep him. You're partly responsible."
"I have to get to work!"
"Wear another pair of shoes."
"Fine." Huffily, Harry stalks off.
It doesn't take long before he's returned, however. "He's taken bites out of one shoe in every pair!"
"Then wear two different shoes."
"He's only eaten the left ones!"
Charlie looks at Harold with such an adoring look in his eyes that Harry wants to scream in frustration. "Who's a clever boy!" Charlie coos, scratching Harold on the head. The dragon-crup looks extraordinarily pleased with himself.
"Don't praise him!" Harry scolds Charlie.
"Really, Harry," says Charlie. "He's half dragon. Be thankful the shoes are the only things he's eaten."
Harry lets out a huffed breath and turns away from his clearly-insane boyfriend. He angrily grabs some floo-powder and chucks a handful of it in the fireplace. "Ministry of Magic, Britain," he bites out, and then the flames engulf him and he's gone.
Charlie hopes the ministry won't get too worried about Harry's mental state when they notice he's showed up to work in his socks.
"Aguamenti!" Harry cried. "Aguamenti! Aguamenti!"
"Harold!" Charlie called desperately. "It's okay, Harry's not really mad at you!"
"Yes I am!" Harry replied, attempting to put out the house with his wand. "I thought you said he couldn't breathe fire!"
"I was guessing! Crup-dragons aren't exactly common, you know!"
They're curled up in front of a roaring fire (thankfully, this one is in the fireplace, where it belongs) when Charlie finally broaches the subject. It's been weighing on his mind for a while now; not because it's a particularly pressing concern of his own, but because he worries that Harry might be missing out on something that would make him happy.
"Harry?" Charlie asks tentatively.
"Hm?" Harry asks.
"Have you… do you… I wanted to ask… do you want kids?" The words spill out of his mouth in a rush.
Harry looks up from his book, surprised. A grin pulls at the corner of his mouth. "Don't tell me that you're pregnant," he jokes.
When Charlie doesn't answer immediately, Harry's amused expression turns to one of panic. "You're not, right? That can't happen, can it? I mean, even in the wizarding world… you're not pregnant, are you?"
Charlie laughs at his panic. "No, I'm not pregnant," he says. "It's just that I know quite a lot of people expect to become parents someday… and some of those people even expect me specifically to become a parent." Both he and Harry know that he's referring to his mother, who was perfectly happy now that Charlie had finally settled down with someone (even if that someone was another bloke) but clearly still expects grandchildren from him.
"Charlie," Harry says firmly. "Your mother has six other children, all of whom are perfectly capable of producing grandkids for her, and most of which have already done so. She wants you to have kids because she thinks it'll make you happy. She means well, no matter how misguided she might be." He pauses, and then continues. "If you want children, then we can certainly talk it over."
"It's not that," Charlie hurriedly corrects him. "I don't not want to have kids. But, having said that, I've yet to be hit by a strong urge to have any. I thought… well, neither of us are getting any younger. This is sort of the stage in life where a couple talks about these things, and I don't want you to miss out on an experience you might really enjoy."
"I don't particularly want kids," Harry says slowly. "You and me – that's enough for now." He glances at Harold, who's curled up by the fireplace. "Well," he corrects himself, "you, me and the monster."
Charlie frowns at the use of the playful nickname that Harry had given Harold. He knows Harry means no harm, and that the dragon-crup can't understand what's being said (he only paid attention to the tone of Harry's voice, which was almost always gentle and pleasant, unless Harold had eaten his slippers again). Still, he didn't want to give Harold the feeling that he wasn't loved.
"Okay," Charlie says uncertainly. "But you know, if you want children, you need to say so. I don't want to stand in the way-"
Harry silenced him with a kiss. "Charlie," he says quietly. "I love you. I plan on spending my entire life with you. If I wanted children, do you really think I'd keep quiet about it?"
"I suppose not," Charlie relented. He glances at Harold and then grins back up at his boyfriend. "I suppose that if we ever feel the nest's too empty, we could always crossbreed ourselves a little sibling for Harold," he jokes.
"Absolutely not," Harry says firmly.
"He's surprisingly gentle," Hermione observes as Rose and Hugo clamber all over Harold. Despite her words, her tone is nervous, and her posture is tense, as though ready to leap to her children's aid at any moment. Harry rolls his eyes; Harold had been giving Rose and Hugo rides for years, but she's still like this every time.
Ron is more relaxed, and leans back in his chair sipping butterbeer. "He's really rather tame, isn't he?" he comments.
"It's the crup in him," Charlie says. "The subservience to wizard-kind in him is so strong that it almost completely overpowers his dragon nature. And, of course, it helps that he was raised in captivity."
"Sort of makes you want one," Ron says wistfully as Harold rises a few feet off the ground. Hermione snorts.
"Enjoy creating one," Charlie laughs. "I'll visit you in Azkaban, little brother." He places his empty bottle on the table before getting up and heading over the fridge.
When he's out of earshot, Hermione turns to Harry. "You look tired," she says.
Harry shrugs. "It's the travelling back and forth," he says. "International flooing is horrible. It really takes it out of you."
"I'm not sure you can keep it up," she says, honesty and concern filing her voice. Ron doesn't say a word, but one glance at his face tells Harry that he feels the same way.
"I know," Harry says softly. "I have some decisions to make."
It's hard to look at your own relationship honestly, Harry thinks, and see well enough to evaluate everything about it. Your vision is always marred by your mood or your circumstances or some other factor. But sometimes a choice must be made, and this time the choice is one he's been putting off for far too long.
They're having tea when Harry finally broaches the subject. "I quit my job at the ministry yesterday," he says in the most conversational tone he can manage. Charlie is so surprised he almost showers him with half-chewed spaghetti.
"What?" he yelps, when he's finally managed to swallow his mouthful.
"I handed in my notice," Harry says.
"Why?" Charlie asks, although his tone is a little calmer.
"I'm moving to Romania," Harry tells him. "Into this house, if you'll have me."
"Of course I'll have you!" Charlie splutters out. "Always. But why?"
"I'm sick of commuting," Harry says. "And when I stay in Britain and don't commute, I get sick of not seeing you. I started working at the ministry because they were making a right balls-up of cleaning up after Voldemort, and to be honest, there's been nothing keeping me there for a while now. They can manage by themselves now, and I want to be selfish and do something I want to do."
Charlie's quiet for a moment, and then he says softly, "I love you."
"And I'm moving to a different country just to live with you. I'm sure that speaks for itself."
They continue eating for a few moments until a horrendous retching noise comes from under the table, and Harold vomits on Harry's shoes. Harry glares at Charlie.
"You've been feeding him scraps again, haven't you," he accuses his boyfriend.
Charlie grins sheepishly at Harry. "Welcome home, love."