The universe contained herein belongs to J.K. Rowling. The original characters and plot are mine, and my responsibility.
No dragons were harmed in the crafting of this story.

This will be the last bit... I hope you've enjoyed it. Please write and let me know. Garth and Lilith thank you... Charlie thanks you... Sky thanks you... And I thank you.

Skylark's Dragon Part 11

Charlie returned two weeks to the day after he had left, finding them once again back with the Swedish Shortsnouts – a deliberate choice on Roberto's part, as Lilith was showing signs of agitation that were increasingly hard for Sky to quell, either directly or through Garth. He walked into camp mid-afternoon, and was there when they returned from patrol. The six of them crowded around him, shaking his hand, patting his back, hugging him, tears in nearly every eye.

He looked terrible, his face gaunt and pale. He looked like he had dropped several stone. Sky stood near him uncertainly, and when Henry moved away to fetch fire whiskey and loft Charlie's things to his tent, she moved closer. Charlie took her hand without looking at her, automatically, as if knowing she was there and needing it. Only the tightness of his grip gave away the tension he was under, and his need for comfort. She ran her other hand up and down his arm, soothing the back of his hand until his grip loosened a bit.

"I need to talk to Sky," he said, after they had eaten dinner and downed single glasses of fire whiskey. "So, if you'll excuse us…"

He's going to tell me things have changed, she thought, but the fact that he had barely let go of her hand all evening said otherwise. They picked their way out of camp, their way lit by their whispered Lumos Maxima, to a nearby outcropping, and sat in silence, looking out over the mountains, the night clear and cool, the moon full, nearly blotting out the stars in its brightness. Sky waited.

"I owe you an apology," he said at last.

"For what, Charlie?" she asked in soft confusion.

He sat for several long moments, then turned toward her, entwining her fingers with his. "You were right about Snape," he said, and she saw the glint of tears in his eyes. "He was innocent."

She gasped. "What? How do you…?"

He rubbed a thumb over her knuckles and with his other hand, wiped his eyes. "Harry," he said. "Harry told us. Sky…" he said, turning pleading eyes to hers, "he was protecting us all the time. He… when he… when George lost his ear, he was trying to save Lupin from a Death Eater and he missed. He meant to get the Death Eater. But it was enough – he saved them."

Tears came to Sky's eyes as Charlie talked. "He saved Harry – numerous times. He… he served the Order – completely. Sky… he was a good man, and we all… I … misjudged him." He fell silent, still holding onto her hand, waiting while she cried it out.

"But you didn't, Charlie. You were only confused," she said finally. "We all were." She was silent a moment, tears still tracing down her face. "If we had listened with our hearts… We knew."

Charlie nodded. "He… died… alone…" and that was too much for him, and he collapsed into her arms, and she knew he was thinking of Fred, and Lupin and Tonks, and others he knew and loved who had fallen. She held him and rocked him against her, soothing her fingers through his hair, murmuring, "It's all right, Charlie… it's all right," though her heart, too, broke – for her Head of House – unknown, despised, misjudged… for Fred – loved, joyful, twin… and for all those who were lost, and all those who had lost someone. She dropped little kisses on Charlie's head and forehead and cheeks, and finally on his lips and they kissed desperately, knowing it was life and love and forgiveness they sought in each other, and both taking and giving it as best they could, while staying decent.

Finally, Charlie kissed her fingers, one by one, and the back of her hand, and her palm, and allowed her to caress him before he held her hand to his chest and looked her in the eyes.

"Amber," he said.

"What?" She was confused.

"Your eyes… are the most beautiful color… blue, with amber highlights."

His fingers traced her eyebrows and touched her eyelids, and she closed them, holding her breath, and he leaned forward and kissed her gently. Then he pulled back. "We have a job to do," he said.

"What is it?" she asked, opening her eyes on a sigh.

"Ron and Harry and Hermione… broke into Gringott's…"

"We know."

"Shh! They broke out on the back of a dragon – a Hungarian Horntail."

She laughed weakly, disbelievingly. "They what?"

He nodded grimly. "Ron tells me the beast was injured – and blind. The last they saw, it was heading north, toward Wales. But the Welsh dragon handlers have asked for help. Too many of them lost family… they're needed at home… And..."

"They have no Dragon Master," Sky supplied.

"Exactly. And as the beast is blind… it's either us, or when they find him, they'll have to put him down. They thought if we…"

"Of course. Of course, Charlie. When do we go?"

"First light." He stood and pulled her up to hold tightly against him. He sighed and buried his head against her for a moment. She could feel his heart beating, and the touch of his mind, sad, yearning, hopeful… Then he straightened, "I love you, Amber Sky," he said, looking into her eyes. "I need you. Would you spend the night with me?"

Her answer was to put her arms around his neck and pull him to her for a gentle kiss. "I love you, too, Charlie Weasley. You are my favorite dragon."

He snorted, shook his head and gave a watery laugh. Then he swung her into his arms, over her protests, and carried her off to his – no – their – tent.


May there always be dragons.