For the 1 Character 1 Prompt Challenge. I seem to be choosing all of my favorite characters which is fantastic because I needed and excuse to write more Charlie/Katie fluffy goodness. :)
Charlie saw it happen in slow motion. The new mother Hebridean Black crouched down low so that her purple eyes met his blue ones. She was giving him a chance to do the right thing because deep down dragons are fair and merciful creatures. Every good dragon tamer knows this. The dragon paused and her expression reminded him of his own mother a little bit; that look in her eyes that asked him "Are you really that stupid?"
It made him wonder. Was he that stupid? He should have just gone to George's wedding, done his duty as groomsman and brother, and then come home, because this, Romania, was home now. He should have known not to talk to the maid of honor. He had tried to convince himself that it was just sex; that it didn't matter. What was the point if he was just going to leave the country again in a few days? For the first time in his life, he wished he was at the Burrow instead of working. But he wasn't. He'd had his fun and it was time to get back to work. Time to get back to his first love; his dragons.
Oh, yeah. Dragons. He was still standing there staring one down. She was pissed off and it occurred to him that he should have moved out of the way a good thirty seconds ago. He saw her irises begin to glow red. He knew what that meant and yet his feet wouldn't move. It was like there was a Devil's Snare wrapped around his ankles keeping him in place.
He snapped to his senses and leapt out of the way but he was unable to completely dodge the flame. Searing heat ravaged his right arm. He heard more yelling. His nostrils burned from breathing in the smoke and the overpowering scent of burning flesh. And then darkness.
When Charlie woke up the first thing he noticed was that his head was pounding and there was someone yelling at him. And then he felt it; the raw, stinging, pain that was his arm.
He groaned and covered his face with his good hand.
"What? Merlin…" He looked up and saw Ana the head Healer at the reserve staring down at him with a look of disapproval.
"Good, you're awake," she said briskly. She ran a distracted hand through her black hair that was streaked with gray. "What am I going to do with you, boy?"
"I… don't… know…" Charlie looked down at his injured arm. It was covered in a thick yellow paste that Ana only saved for the worst burns.
"Don't worry. It'll heal. Just give it a few days. Sit up!" The older woman gave him a sharp smack on the leg. "You're not dying. Though you are very lucky!"
Charlie rolled his eyes and sat up on the bench and squinted as he tried to adjust to the brightness of the infirmary. "Is Gracie here? She's more sympathetic."
"No. You're stuck with me, I'm afraid." Ana smiled and she directed him on how to care for his arm but in a softer tone.
"How's the idiot?" Charlie looked up to see his best friend Markus leaning against the doorframe.
"He'll mend." Ana shoved a jar of yellow paste into Charlie's hand and made to leave. "I'll be back to check on you, Weasley. You can't go home until I say so." She stopped just outside the door and muttered in Markus's ear, "Make sure he doesn't do anything stupid."
Markus nodded and plopped down on the bench across from where Charlie was sniffing the contents of the jar. "So. Who is she?"
Charlie raised his eyebrows. He didn't feel like having this conversation. It wasn't fair. He wasn't allowed to leave the infirmary and he was going to be forced to talk about a girl. He didn't know how to do this. He didn't know how to talk about his feelings. It was one of the perks of being so far away from his mother. And now he was going to have this conversation with Markus?
"Sorry. She?" he asked even though he knew that playing dumb would not work. He had to try.
"Yes," Markus said smugly. "She. Her. The female who has apparently caught your fancy and kidnapped my levelheaded, reasonable, best mate and replaced him with the suicidal dumbass that is sitting before me. That Black nearly roasted you, you know that right? Now, tell me who this girl is so I can kill her."
"I don't know what you are talking about."
"You're lucky you are severely injured already."
"All right! You are violent when you're angry," Charlie said resentfully.
"I know. That's why the dragons and I get along so well." Markus crossed his arms and leaned back against the wall, waiting for Charlie to elaborate.
Charlie sighed and hung his head in defeat. "She's this girl I met at the wedding."
"And I took her out a couple of times."
"It can't have been nothing! You've been walking around in a daze like a lovesick puppy all week!"
Markus glared at him. "You have the next week off to recover. Don't come back until you've turned 'nothing' into something." He got up off the bench and went to go get Ana.
Charlie felt the heat rise to his face. "Or what?"
"I don't know. Let another dragon roast you alive, I suppose," Markus said sarcastically. But his face softened when he turned to his best friend. "Listen, mate. I know we joke around about never settling down and all that. Don't get me wrong. I love being alone. It's just the way I'm wired. But you…" Markus shook his head. "If there's a girl that can distract dragon-loving, workaholic, Charlie Weasley from the most gorgeous Hebridean Black I have ever laid eyes on than she must be an angel. And you deserve to be happy. Really."
Markus walked out the door and Charlie could only sit in stunned silence for a moment before he called after him.
The man poked his head back into the room. Charlie grinned. "That Black really was beautiful, eh?"
"Oh, so you did notice?"
"Right before she flamed, yeah, I noticed," Charlie laughed and then he became serious once more. "Thanks."
"Thank me when you get back," Markus said and left his friend alone.
Ana returned not long afterward and quickly went about inspecting Charlie's arm. After what seemed like hours of scolding he was finally allowed to leave. He went to his office and filled out a last bit of paperwork, grabbed his bag and took the Floo back to his flat.
Charlie dropped his things onto the kitchen counter and considered what his next move should be. Common sense told him to rest and let his arm heal a bit before attempting to Apparate. But adrenaline was coursing through his veins which he attributed to having a near death experience so recently. He pocketed his wand and his jar of yellow burn paste and turned on his heel.
He felt sick to his stomach. He always did hate Apparating but he couldn't wait for a Portkey or else he would chicken out and Markus would never let him forget it.
There was also a small part of him that had to admit that if he waited he'd regret it.
His feet hit the pavement in Diagon Alley and it took a full minute for his world to stop spinning. Finally he was able to get a firm grasp on his surroundings and he marched down the road and turned onto a side street that he'd become quite familiar with in recent weeks, not noticing that rain was pouring down soaking him completely through and that his arm was starting to burn as the paste was beginning to wash off. He reached the correct building and went up the stairs to the third floor and knocked loudly on the door.
The woman who opened the door was unspeakable beautiful even in a t-shirt and her messy black hair tied in a bun on top of her head. The look on her face was one of complete shock and when Charlie stopped to take stock of his appearance he wasn't at all surprised. He was soaked through, his bright red hair plastered to his head and his injured arm looked an ugly sight.
"Hi, Katie," he finally managed to choke out.
"Charlie, are you all right? What are you doing here?"
"I…uh…" he began but stopped as he realized this was probably the stupidest way to go about this. He shook his head at how idiotic he was being. "I'm sorry. I should have sent you an owl or something first."
Katie looked him up and down in concern. "It's all right. Come in. What happened to your arm?"
Charlie didn't move from just outside her door. "No," he said. "No. I'll come back. This was foolish."
He turned to leave but Katie grabbed his sleeve and led him inside and closed the door behind her. "You are not going anywhere until I know you are all right. Now let me look at you." She held his injured hand and looked his arm up and down.
"Merlin, Charlie, what is this?"
At first he couldn't respond. He could only stand there and relish the shivers that the simple touch of her hand sent up his spine. Then he met her eyes and he knew that he had to say something.
"What is this?" he repeated after her. "This is what you do to me!" He pulled away from her and extended his burnt arm to show her the extent of the damage. "I can't think straight. I can't even do my job. I just stood there today with an angry dragon breathing fire at me and all I can bloody think about is you!"
Katie could only stare at him in amazement and confusion and his heart sank as he realized that this was a mistake. Hadn't they agreed that he would go back to Romania and those two weeks together would remain a memory? That was the arrangement and it was a good one, now that he stopped to think about it. What had he been thinking listening to Markus?
"I'm sorry. Really, I shouldn't have come. I know what we said before. I should just go back."
"No. Please." Katie kept a death grip on his hand and he couldn't tear himself away from her. He swallowed nervously, marveling at how a girl could unnerve him like this. This feeling was completely foreign to him. He liked it and hated it at the same time. "I'm glad you came back," she assured him. "Don't go."
"I thought I could do this. I mean, I don't normally… do… this…" He gestured to the space between them.
"I know," she said. "Neither do I."
Charlie took a step toward her, putting his uninjured arm around her waist. "I know."
"There's a first time for everything right?" She wrapped her arms around him and began to back up, leading him farther and farther into the living room toward the couch.
"I am going to have to go back to Romania, you know," Charlie said pointedly before sitting down and pulling her onto his lap.
"That's what you said before. And yet here you are."
Charlie sighed. "Good point."
"You know…" Katie smoothed his hair out of his face. "We could try and make this work. That is why you came back right?"
Charlie laughed and nodded his head emphatically.
"Excellent! Now that's settled, kiss me damnit."
Normally Charlie would have resented being ordered about. But this time he gladly obeyed. He'd finally found someone to tame him.
He never imagined it would feel so right.