A/N: What's this? Hedwig is breaking up Charlie/Katie? What is this world coming to?
This is for the Hogwarts Games in which I had to write a 2000 plus word oneshot about any slash/femmslash pairing. This is an excuse to try something new. Review please and feel free to tell me if it's horrible. Considering my OTP is Charlie/Katie it's hard not to be a little biased…
Also for the Pairing Diversity Boot Camp with the prompt: serendipity. Obviously…
In telling the story of what happened between Charlie Weasley and Draco Malfoy that summer, it seems appropriate to start with a definition.
1. the discovery of something wonderful without looking for it and in the most unlikely of places
2. a fortunate accident
3. a pleasant surprise
Serendipity is something that does not happen often and when it does, very few people fully appreciate it. It is a phenomenon that can only really occur when someone is willing to suspend their beliefs about what is possible, or even probable. They must be willing to entertain the idea that things may not be as they seem.
And they must be willing to forget everything they thought they knew about…well… everything.
Draco clung to the metal rail of the Muggle subway with one hand and held up the crumpled map of Romania in the other. He hated to admit it, but he was hopelessly lost. He'd spent the last six months travelling Europe simply because he could, and he'd done a fine job navigating thus far, but this was his first time on the subway and he decided he did not like it one bit. He wished he was familiar enough with the area to Apparate. He flipped the map over, thinking that perhaps he had it upside down, but that did not help in the least. He finally crumpled the piece of paper in his hand and shoved it in his pocket, deciding that he would simply get off at the next stop and go from there.
He wasn't so sure why he'd come to Romania in the first place and now he was beginning to have second thoughts. Italy had suited him better. Perhaps he should go back. He could do as he pleased, after all. He'd managed to sneak out of Britain unnoticed by his family and he was travelling alone and he was quite enjoying this bout of freedom. Draco knew it couldn't last forever and he would have to go home sometime (or when his money ran out) but for now, he was satisfied with getting lost now and then if it meant being alone for a change.
At least, that's what he kept telling himself.
The subway jerked and he could feel it slowing down. He adjusted his bag on his shoulder, but before the car even stopped a man stepped in his path blocking his way out the door. Draco went to go around him, but the stranger stepped in front of him again.
"I know you from somewhere," the man said accusingly.
Draco made to push him out of the way, but stopped to take in his appearance, because as unlikely as it seemed that he'd know anyone in the godforsaken country, the man did look a bit familiar. The stranger was of stocky build and quite muscular, his arms covered in scars. The hand that was not holding onto a railing was wrapped in a bandage. He had startlingly blue eyes, but the most noticeable thing about him was the red hair. It was almost Weasley-ish…
The words came out of Draco's mouth before he could stop himself, because he just knew. "You're a Weasley."
The door of the subway slammed closed and he jumped as he realized he'd missed the stop. He groaned in frustration, but the Weasley did not seem to care. He only replied, "And you're Draco Malfoy."
"Yeah, so what if I am?" Draco said defensively. "Just let me off this thing, will you?"
The red-head nodded at the crumpled map protruding from Draco's pocket. "Where are you trying to get to?"
Normally, Draco would have sneered at the man and been on his way, but he was lost and he didn't like it and he wanted off this Muggle contraption as soon as possible. He shook his head and tried to remember the address. "There's a hotel… on, er… Leipzig Street?"
The Weasley laughed. "You're on the wrong Line, mate. I get off at the next stop. Just come with me and I'll set you straight."
Draco weighed his options and the likelihood of meeting another person willing to help was slim. He met those piercing blue eyes once more and shrugged his shoulders in resignation. "Fine." The man smirked and he figured he should at least attempt to be polite. "Thanks." Then it occurred to him that he didn't know the man's first name, despite not even having to ask his last. "What's your name anyway? You obviously know mine."
The man stuck out his hand. "Charlie Weasley."
"So, you're the oldest?" Draco asked looking him up and down.
"Second," Charlie replied curtly and led the way off the subway that had finally stopped. They ascended the stairs to an almost deserted street. A surprisingly humid wind was blowing and Draco ran a hand through his hair in frustration.
"What were you doing on a Muggle subway?" he asked, following Charlie past a few shops.
"I hate Apparating. I will if I'm running late, but it's good to get out. If you Apparate everywhere, you miss things."
"What kind of things?"
Charlie shrugged. "You know… things. Life. Happening around you. I'll admit I'm a bit of a people-watcher. And I suppose that's lucky for you isn't it? Or I wouldn't have noticed that you were lost. Not to mention your wand is sticking out of your pocket. You really ought to put that away."
Draco quickly reached behind him and found that his wand was indeed halfway out of his back pocket for anyone to notice. He shoved it farther into the depths of his jeans and looked up to find that Charlie was heading up a set of stone stairs of a building.
"Where are we going?" Draco asked.
Charlie turned and furrowed his brow in confusion. "Would you like some tea?" he asked gesturing to the front door the building which Draco could now see was an apartment complex.
"Tea?" he repeated, but followed him nonetheless. "I thought you were going to help me to my hotel!"
Charlie waved that idea aside. "I know what hotel you mean. Trust me, you don't want to stay there. I have a couch for you. Or I can find you a better arrangement. But first, yes, let's have tea." The man kept walking up the stairs without waiting for a response. His confidence that Draco would ever agree to have tea with him was quite irritating and the blond was utterly flabbergasted at this point. What was this guy thinking, picking up a stranger off the subway?
Draco opened his mouth to vocalize this concern, but all that came out was a single word. "But…"
Charlie pulled out his wand to unlock the door to his flat. "But what?" he asked.
Charlie whirled around to face him and the look on his face told Draco that he should choose his words carefully. "I'm…what?"
"Well… a Weasley." Draco said, as though that was explanation enough. When Charlie did not respond, he continued. "And I'm a Malfoy."
Charlie held the door to his flat open a bit wider and jerked his head to indicate that Draco should come in. "Forget everything you thought you knew about the Weasleys," he said.
Draco snorted and stood his ground. "Why should I?"
"Because very little of it is true," Charlie said impatiently. "And even if it were, I'm the exception."
As much as Draco wanted to pretend that he wasn't intrigued, he couldn't. Because he knew what it was like to be the exception. And he had a feeling there was more to this particular Weasley than met the eye. What could one cup of tea hurt?
So Draco followed Charlie into his flat and had tea which turned into dinner during which Draco asked a lot of questions so as not to have to answer any. And when he realized it was probably high time to find a place to stay for the night, Charlie made him an offer he couldn't refuse. And so the couch became his bed for the night and as he drifted off to sleep, he could still hardly believe where he was.
The next morning, Draco rose early and packed his things and pulled out the crumpled map. He really ought to be moving on and he didn't want to intrude on Charlie's hospitality. He studied the map wondering if he should stay in Romania or go back to Italy as he'd considered yesterday, when a noise in the doorway aroused him from his musings.
He looked up to find Charlie leaning against the doorframe between the tiny bedroom and the living room. "Where do you think you're going?" he asked.
Draco looked back down at his map and did his best to concentrate on the street names. He found that meeting Charlie's eyes could be difficult at times. He loathed himself for thinking so, but the man was rather intimidating. And to think he was a Weasley too.
Charlie sighed and walked past him into the kitchen to make breakfast. "Look, if you want stay in a piece of shit hotel and brood that's up to you. I'll show you where to go. But first," he turned and waved a spoon in Draco's direction, "I want you to answer some questions for me. I did a lot of talking yesterday and today it's your turn."
Draco rolled his eyes. "Why do you want to know anything about me?"
"Why did you ask me all those questions last night?"
"So we wouldn't have this conversation," Draco said pointedly.
Charlie set a plate of toast down on the little kitchen table along with a mug of coffee and pointed to the chair. "Exactly."
Draco sat and grudgingly ate his toast, while Charlie watched him. He hadn't been joking that he liked to watch people. It was unnerving and Draco was beginning to get sick of it. He also noticed that despite the fact, that Charlie insisted that he talk, he hadn't been asked any questions. He finally decided to break the awkward silence. "I know what you're trying to do."
Charlie smirked. "What's that?"
"I know what my name means, you know. I get the irony. But don't think you can order me about and make me breakfast and then interrogate me. You can't tame me."
Charlie threw his head back and laughed heartily. "Dragons can't be tamed any more than you can. So relax."
Charlie then started to ask him about his family, why he was in Romania in the first place, and why he was alone. He answered every single question he'd been hoping not to be asked this whole time, but by the end he felt as though a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. Perhaps relaxing wasn't so impossible.
"So, no one knows where you are?" Charlie asked.
Draco shook his head. "I've moved about so much that by the time my mother's Howlers reach the hotels, I've already gone. I do manage to get the bills for the damage though."
Charlie considered him a moment. "Maybe you should stay in one spot for a while. The couch is free." When he didn't answer right away, he continued. "You can't keep running forever."
Draco stared into his coffee mug. Charlie did have a good point, and if he was being honest, he would rather stay here with this almost-stranger than go on alone. He truly was tired of being alone. He hadn't realized it until he'd met Charlie and it occurred to him that he hadn't had any proper human contact in months. He looked up to meet the man's blue gaze once more and nodded his agreement. "Okay."
Charlie smiled and sipped his own coffee. "Okay."
Weeks went by. Draco didn't know how long he was going to stay or when Charlie's offer would expire, but he supposed he would wait it out. He didn't know what he was waiting for exactly; he just knew that there was something keeping him there. In the mean time he found things to occupy his time. He accompanied Charlie to his job at the dragon reserve once out of curiosity and he quickly found that the dragon tamer had been right about a lot of things. He always began his lectures the same way.
"Forget everything you thought you knew about dragons," he said. "You can't tame them. All you can do is look it in the eye and hope it sees something good in you." When they went home after that, it occurred to Draco why it was so difficult to look Charlie in the eye sometimes. He wasn't so sure there was anything good to see. Not anymore.
As he settled on the couch that night, he wasn't able to restrain himself from asking the question that kept plaguing his mind after this devastating discovery. "Is there something good in me?" he whispered, half hoping that Charlie wouldn't hear from across the room.
But he did.
He crossed the living room in a few short strides and put a hand under Draco's chin to examine his face. The piercing blue eyes bore into his grey ones and he did his best not to blink.
Charlie pretended to think hard about it. "Just a little," he said softly. He straightened back up to his full height and winked before turning in for the night, leaving Draco very confused, but content just the same.
It wasn't until the first of August that he finally received a bright red envelope in the mail.
Charlie had just walked in from a day at work and noticed Draco sitting at the table with the Howler in his trembling hands. Draco saw him smile and if it had been anyone else, he would have taken it for smug satisfaction that a Malfoy had finally got what was coming to him. But it was Charlie and he knew that the guy was genuinely happy that he'd stuck around long enough to receive a letter from his mother. Draco didn't know how to feel about that. He supposed the emotion resembled something like gratitude.
"Best get it over with," Charlie advised, and then went into his bedroom and closed the door to give him privacy, as if that were possible with a Howler.
Draco slipped his trembling fingers underneath the flap of the envelope and braced himself for the explosion.
It was horrible. And loud. And very, very angry. His mother had never been one to yell so to hear her voice so greatly magnified and going on a tirade about how she was worried sick was almost too much. Towards the end of the fifteen minute rant however, her voice softened and became tearful and he wished she would go back to yelling. Guilt washed over him in sickening waves and Draco slumped in his chair as the red envelope burst into flames and crumpled into ashes on the kitchen table.
A few minutes later, Charlie came back out of his room, pulling a clean shirt over his head and sat down opposite his friend. "How was it?" he asked, pretending not to have heard.
"Are you going to go home?"
"Overstayed my welcome, have I?" Draco asked jokingly.
"Never," Charlie said, his tone much more serious. "But you should go home and be with your family while you can." Draco was immediately struck by the emphasis he put on the last three words, but didn't say anything. He merely nodded and together they made plans to get him a Portkey that would take him home.
Draco walked purposefully up the steps of Malfoy Manor and he found his mother composing another Howler in the sitting room. She was pacing and fuming and he'd never seen her so angry. He hesitated, unsure if he should wait until she'd calmed down before revealing himself. Before he could back away quietly, she looked up from the floor and saw his shadow in the doorway. The anger in her voice completely disappeared and she threw herself at him and he realized that Charlie had been right about this too.
He spent the next month at home and went out of his way to try and make it up to his mother for being such a prat. He wasn't sure if he succeeded but at least he tried. He had to admit though, that as happy as he was to be home, there was something missing.
He spent a lot of time pondering what that something could be. Every once in a while his thoughts would turn to Romania and Charlie and he'd wonder how his friend was doing. He wondered if the couch was still free. He wondered why he wondered this.
That is until he received a rather cryptic letter from Charlie that made him spring into action, because suddenly everything made sense. He once again left home without a word, though this time Narcissa had a clue as to why he left, which she found in a letter that was left open on the coffee table.
Forget everything you thought you knew about love.
There was no signature, but Narcissa didn't care. She didn't send a Howler either.
Draco hung onto the metal rail of the subway and checked his watch. He still didn't quite understand this form of transportation, but if he was right, the next stop would bring Charlie Weasley to him. The metal doors clanged open and a group of people filed into the compartment. He searched the crowd for a brief moment until he saw a flash of red. The man almost passed by him, but he reached out to grab his sleeve.
Charlie looked back in confusion, but then his face lit up upon seeing Draco standing there. Draco wasted no more time and promptly wrapped his arms around the man's waist and kissed him on the mouth, much to Charlie's surprise. He got over it however, and reciprocated with just as much enthusiasm, neither of them caring that they were in public nor that they were going to miss their stop.
"I see you figured out the subway," Charlie joked when they broke apart.
"I figured out a lot of things."
"I assume you got my letter."
Draco nodded. "And lucky for you, I didn't know much about love in the first place."
Charlie grinned and kissed him once more. "Don't worry. I'll teach you."