For the one character comp – Charlie – with ALL of the following prompts: parchment, pale, pick, pillow, private, playful and panic.

For the OTP boot camp – Charlie/Draco with the prompt letter

For my darling Laura, because not only did she inspire this, but I adore her to bits and she'll never tire of Charlie/Draco yumminess. Besides, she likes letter fics, so this is completely her fault.

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A smile crosses Charlie's face as a tapping is heard. He opens his window and lets the owl land. Draco's eagle owl – Cassiopeia – isn't the friendliest owl around, much like Draco himself, and tends to bite fingers if a person attempts to retrieve the letters, but Charlie learned long ago that stroking her head calms her enough to take the messages without risking the loss of fingers.

He grabs the letter from Cassiopeia, and moves to his desk. "Will you stay while I write back, Cassie?" he asks the bird from the opposite side of the room. Cassiopeia hoots but stays where she's at, causing Charlie to grin. "Brilliant! I knew you would."

Pulling out a fresh piece of parchment, he picks up his quill and his inkwell and sets to answering Draco's letter. He nibbles on the end of his quill, debating how to start the message.

My dragon,

Is your mother doing any better? What do the healers think is wrong?

The flat is rather quiet without you around.

Charlie pauses and vanishes the last line because it's too girly and Draco would definitely hate him being mushy. He picks up his quill again and continues on.

Well, works just as thrilling as ever. Managed to get burned yesterday, and before you say anything, it's not bad. I just didn't get out of the way quick enough. So, Zoe has to get a temporary partner which she isn't happy about.

The day off gives me plenty of time to write back to Mum. Her letter has been on my desk for over a week now. I'm sure she's upset I haven't written back yet.

Zoe sends her love to you. And I hope that you come home soon.

He signs his name, dries the parchment and rolls it up. He makes his way to Cassiopeia, and strokes her head. "Take this to Dray," he whispers to the owl. She hoots once and takes to the air. He watches Cassiopeia until she's out of his eyesight, before turning back to his piles of letters with a sigh. He really hates responding to letters.

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Draco reads through the letter in his hand, unable to keep the grin off his face. No matter how bad is day was, a letter from Charlie always lifts his spirits. He changes directions and heads toward his old room, Cassiopeia riding on his shoulder.

Once in his lavish room, Cassiopeia takes off towards the branch Draco has just for her. She hoots happily and eats the food that's there. Draco takes out his parchment and inkwell.

Dear Charlie,

He vanishes the words and tries again.

Charlie,

He groans and vanishes his introduction again. Even though they've been dating for a few months already, Draco hates writing the opening to letters. Writing the letters themselves isn't that bad; starting them is absolutely dreadful.

Char, he finally decides on.

Mother's getting worse. She's pale; paler than I've ever seen her before. She's refusing to eat as well. I'm not sure she has the will to live anymore, not since father got sentenced to Azkaban. I've been trying to get her to eat properly, but she won't.

The healers have no knowledge of what's going on. They say that she won't live much longer if she carries on the way she is. They've given her potions and forced her to eat, but Wilma tells me that she never keeps it down. I don't like this. I want to get her better again.

Draco pauses, contemplates vanishing the last paragraph but decides against it because it's true. He doesn't want to lose his mother. His mother has always been supportive of him, even when he didn't meet his father's standards.

It's nice to hear that you've learned you can't go in when you've been burned. I hope Zoe helped heal you. After all, we both know she's more likely to have done it properly.

He grins as he writes the last sentence. It's the complete opposite of the first part of the letter. While the news about his mother is sad, his tone about the healing is more playful, light-hearted.

I'm not sure when she'll get better, but I do miss Romania.

As much as he wants his mother to get better, wishing it won't help him. Right now, it's more of the question of when she'll pass than if. Decisively, Draco leaves that out the letter. If it comes to that, he'll tell Charlie, but not until that moment. So he signs his name at the bottom.

He calls Cassiopeia to him, pets her head before sending her off to Charlie. He places his letter in the top drawer of his desk, where all his private letters go. Not that he has anyone snooping around his room anymore. He then goes to his mother's room to check in on her before he goes to bed.

"Mother?" he questions at the door. On the king sized bed, his mother lies. Her once luscious blonde hair is dingy and falling out. She's thinner than he's ever seen her, and she's as white as the pillowcase beneath her head. "Mother?" he asks again, but she doesn't move.

Panic rises in his chest, but he doesn't show it. He presses two fingers on the inside of her wrist, trying to check her pulse. But he doesn't feel anything. He blinks back tears as he calls out, "Mother," again. "No," he murmurs to himself. "Wilma!"

"Master Draco," Wilma greets as she bows.

"Alert the healers," he orders, his voice steady. "Mother isn't breathing."

"Right away, Master Draco," Wilma says as she scurries away.

Draco is left standing next to his mother's bed. "Just hold on, mother. The healers are on their way. You'll be fine," he murmurs to her still figure. It's more of a comfort to hear himself say those words than to anything else. Deep down, he knows that she's already gone. But the other part of him denies it.

The next few minutes are spent in utter chaos. He's kicked out of his mother's bedroom as the healers try to revive her. He paces back and forth in front of the door, something that, until he met Charlie, was beneath him. Now, he finds the motion calming. His mother's door opens and the healers look solemn.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Malfoy. We tried everything," the first healer says.

Before either healer can say anything else, Draco is down the hall and making his way towards the sitting room. All he can think about is getting out of that house. Once in the sitting room, he takes a handful of Floo powder and yells the address of the International Floo building in Romania. From there, he Apparates directly to the flat that he shares with Charlie.

Charlie's red head snaps up when he hears Draco land. A grin is present on his face, but it quickly fades once he takes in Draco's appearance.

"Dray?" Charlie asks softly, meeting Draco in the middle of the kitchen. "What's wrong?"

Draco just shakes his head. He's not sure he can voice it without breaking down. And he's spent his whole life being strong, so it's hard for him to let go of that, even over his own mother's death.

Realization dawns on Charlie as he pulls Draco into a hug. "I'm sorry, my dragon," he mutters into Draco's blonde hair. "It won't get better. But it'll get easier. That I promise you," he assures the younger boy.

At Charlie's soft words, Draco lets his composure break and silent sobs rack his body. And Charlie just holds him through it, murmuring words of apologizes and assurance and unbreakable promises. In those brief moments, Draco never felt more loved.

A/n – so I don't own Wilma, Draco's house elf. She is Laura's, who was nice enough to let me borrow her.

So many thanks to my love, Paula, for beta-ing this for me!