For my darling Laura, enjoy :)
Thanks to Nayla for beta-ing.
Draco Malfoy was not an 'open book.' He did not go around wearing his heart on his sleeve. He was not easy to read. One would never truly know what was going through head no matter how well they knew him. Charlie knew this. He was used to Draco's habit of sharing only what he wanted to share, he was used to being kept in the dark, he was used to Draco battling his demons on his own.
But that didn't mean he had to like it.
It was several months after the end of the war when Charlie had finally had enough. Draco had woken up in the dead of the night screaming more times than he could count, his pale eyes that once shone like silver were dull like lead, his face was blanker then a plain sheet of parchment. He couldn't handle seeing Draco so lifeless.
"Draco," he whispered, reaching out tenderly in the darkness of their room to pull the shaken boy close to him.
"It was just a nightmare, it's not real, Charlie. You don't need to sound so concerned. I'm fine."
How Charlie hated those words, how he hated the wall between he and Draco that they symbolized, how he hated that they were lie. He hated everything about them.
He watched as Draco moved closer to his side of the bed, turning his back on Charlie keeping his distance.
"Draco, you can't keep doing this. You can't keep running from me whenever I try to help you!"
Draco turned over so he could look Charlie in the eye. He was shocked by the distance he saw there, "I said, Charlie, I'm fine. Please just stop. You do this every time. It's unnecessary and I would like to get back to sleep. You of all people know how much I need it."
Charlie stayed quiet, he could feel his anger bubbling up and he wanted to help Draco, to protect his dragon and keep him safe, but how could he do that when his dragon doesn't want to be helped? Draco's demons were in his mind, in his past, they weren't things that he couldn't see or feel or touch. How could he fight his demons to keep him safe if he couldn't see them? He felt a sense of utter hopelessness, and it was then he realised he couldn't keep living like this. He couldn't handle watching Draco suffer every night, he couldn't handle the lies and the blank looks and the dull eyes.
He needed his Draco back, the one with an arrogant smirk on his face, the one with silver for eyes and confidence in his step, the one who for all intents and purposes was the perfect pureblood prince. The one that had a side to him that no one else saw, the one who used to curl up against his side at night and the one who used to give him these shy smiles when they were alone. He needed to relight his dragons fire, and he knew exactly how to do it.
"Draco," His voice was strong this time. It was no longer a plea in the darkness. He was not begging.
"I said to leave it alone, Charlie. Save the pillow talk for another day."
"I'm sick of it, Draco," Charlie could contain it no more. He couldn't keep coddling Draco and letting him have his way.
"Sick of what? There's nothing to be sick of!" Draco's voice was cold, defensive and unprepared for the attack.
"I'm sick of you lying to me," Draco opened his mouth to speak a sharp retort but Charlie cut him off, "Don't try to tell me that every time you tell me 'I'm fine' you aren't lying. Do you think I haven't seen the haunted look in your eyes? The shadows? The demons you try so desperately to hide? You aren't an open book. I know you don't wear your heart on your sleeve but keeping your pain to yourself, lying to me, lying to yourself...all it's doing is killing you and that in turn is killing me. The war left its mark on everybody, Draco. There is no harm in admitting that. It's one thing to appear strong to the rest of the world, but the fact you don't trust me enough to tell me what the hell is going on, what you saw to give the terror you experience every night is pathetic. You're being pathetic." Charlie's eyes blazed, he did not regret what he said.
Draco turned around so he could face Charlie, "I am fine, I didn't ask for you to care. I didn't ask for you to worry, or for you to tell me anything. I hadn't realised being with you meant turning into a girl and getting all emotional like your my fucking therapist or something, you're worse than my mother," he hissed vehemently, his eyes darkening and steeling over.
"Really? If you are so perfectly fine, then explain to me why you wake up in the middle of every night screaming. Explain how whenever someone mentions the war you flinch; explain how I caught you trying to cut the mark off your arm. Tell me why you rarely go and see your mother and tell me why you burn any letters from your father. Is it wrong for me to care about you? Is it wrong that I miss the Draco who used to swagger down the street like he owned it, and then came home and kissed me like I meant something to him? That was the Draco I fell in love with, that Draco used to tell me when something was wrong, that Draco knew how to live. He had a spark in his eyes and a smirk on his face. This Draco, he goes to work, he comes home, he eats dinner and he goes to sleep. This Draco doesn't have any life in his eyes. This Draco is ice cold, touching him burns he's so cold. This Draco is locked up tight, he's changed his locks and I'm not the key anymore. I'm just some guy he lives with," Charlie snarled right back, his voice quivering with anger.
Somehow he and Draco had moved to the floor, they stood face to face, each word Charlie stepped closer so they were so close that their noses were almost touching. Draco's eyes finally had fire in them, even if it was anger there was something. Charlie looked into them, he saw the cracks in his armour, and he saw the pain he tried so hard to hide. Charlie could almost, almost see his demons, but not quite. Draco's armour was dented but not broken.
"When was the last time you kissed me, Draco? When was the time you smiled? When was the last time we, you and I, Charlie and Draco, the dragon and his tamer, did anything? When was the last time you let anybody in? You're hurting, you're in pain and you think admitting it will make you weak. You think you are the only one affected? Huh? You think you're the only one that lost people, the only one that changed? Why is it so damn hard for you to let me help?" Charlie's voice rose, his whole body was tense as he let out months of pent up frustration.
Draco closed his eyes, his hands balled up into fists by his side, his body shaking with the weight of the pain he carried on his shoulders. When he opened them, just for a second his pain was as clear as day and Charlie felt a surge of hope.
"You think you know me so well, you think you understand what I'm going through? Don't be so naive. You. Can't. Fix. Me. When will you learn that?" Draco sneered.
"I lost my little brother, Draco. I lost Fred. You think I don't want to just shut out the pain? You think I don't want to close off from the world and wallow in self pity just like you are? Well reality check, I can't. I have a family that needs me, my parents lost their son, my siblings lost their brother, and George lost his goddamn other half! Stop being so selfish, Draco! You haven't even considered that your mother needs her son right now. you never asked me if I was okay. You just shut us all out and thought that you were the only one suffering. Here's a thought, did you know you aren't the only person who exists?" Charlie roared, bringing his hands up, his face so full of raw emotion that coated every word he said in a fiery passion so intense that the tension in the room almost became visible. Charlie stepped back, giving Draco space and just looking at him. His eyes hid nothing.
Draco closed his eyes, and took a deep breath before responding. His voice shook a little.
"I never said that. I never ever said that I was shutting myself off from everybody because I was being selfish. You don't get it do you? I'm doing this for you! I did things, horrible things in that war, Charlie. Things you'd hate me for if you knew. You don't know what it's like to have these dreams and watch them all fall, you don't know what it feels like to learn the man you idolised is really this monster, you don't know what it's like to have your family threatened to make you perform the Cruciatus Curse on people as young as first years who didn't deserve it. You don't know what it's like for your life, your childhood, everything to just go straight to hell." He took another breath, controlling his shaking voice. His arms reached out in the dark and found Charlie's hands. He held on to them like a lifeline. It was everything Charlie could do to not just close the distance between them and kiss him and hold him and never ever let go. Draco continued.
"I didn't want to lie, Charlie, but I needed to keep this from you. I needed to keep this pain from my mother. She's suffering from enough guilt as it is and if she knew just how messed up this war made me she would never forgive herself. And you, you have this light in your eyes, this hope a kind of innocence that I love, that I need to keep me from drowning. I wanted to shelter you, but it was so hard to talk to you because you were moving on and trying to be happy and live again and I couldn't take that away from you. I didn't want to be the reason why you stopped smiling. I couldn't have you hate me, I'm not safe."
Charlie sucked in a breath; this was not what he had been expecting when he originally confronted Draco. He had been expecting a selfish reason, he had been expecting Draco to not trust him or not care about him enough to tell him. He had been expecting Draco to keep pushing him away because of his pride, and because it was easier. He never expected this. He hadn't realised that Draco had it in him to be so selfless. Draco stood there with his eyes closed, a suspicious gleam resting on his elegant eyelashes threatening to fall. He looked so vulnerable, so small and hurt and broken and fragile. He looked so human, his eyes hiding every demon he had ever faced, every scar he had. He looked like someone who needed saving because they were too lost to be able to save themselves. It filled him with warmth and an insatiable need to be close to him, to hold him and comfort him.
He closed the distance between them in one long stride, a lone tear trickled down his pale cheeks and he closed his eyes as his lips found Draco's. They kissed passionately, hands running through hair, up their chests wherever they could reach. Their tongues collided as their tears streamed down their face mingling together expressing all the love and the forgiveness and the comfort that couldn't be said using words.
They parted for air, their foreheads resting together, hands and fingers intertwined, chests both breathing heavy and hearts pounding. They had smiles on their faces. They were content.
"I'm sorry," Charlie whispered, not wanting to ruin their moment but knowing it had to be said. He met Draco's eyes and saw finally what he had wanted to see the whole time. They were shining, silver not grey and they were completely free of their usual armour. Charlie saw Draco's pain, he saw finally all his demons hiding there, plaguing him. They swarmed his grey eyes, darkening them, causing nightmares and horrors and memories to resurface that they both knew needed to stay buried. The openness shocked Charlie, the vulnerability of the boy in front of him, with his pale blond hair and swollen lips, looking at Charlie so intensely that he shivered. Charlie finally understood what they meant when they said that they eyes were windows into a man soul.
"For what?" Draco whispered back, never breaking eye contact.
Charlie smiled sadly, "For what I said, calling you pathetic and selfish, for making you feel that you had to keep all this to yourself, for not realising sooner that you were in that much pain, for everything, for making you do it alone. I'm so sorry."
Draco smiled slightly, "You can be such an idiot you know? I don't even know why you're apologising. That's the most ridiculous explanation I've ever heard in my life," He paused for a bit, his hands and Charlie's still intertwined, "I don't want to let you down, Charlie. I just don't want to fail anybody again. I don't think I could handle it if anything happened to you and I'm not safe! I'm a mess, I'm broken and selfish and I'm dammed to go to hell and I don't want to drag you with me and I just...I want to keep you safe but I can't because no matter how much I push you away you just keep coming back. I can't bloody get of you can I? You've seen my demons Charlie, you saw them in my eyes and yet here you are still, holding my hand and apologising. I don't think I will ever understand you. Charlie Weasley the bloody idiot." He chuckled weakly.
"I prefer Charlie Weasley the dragon tamer, actually," Draco laughed again, the sound was making Charlie's heart race faster than he thought possible, he was overwhelmed with a fierce protectiveness for the pale blond that stood in front of him.
Charlie kissed him again, slower this time, more careful and less urgent then before. This kiss was sweeter, like they had all the time in the world, like neither of them was ever going anywhere, like they would always be there for each other. Charlie's arms wrapped around Draco's waist like life support, pulling him closer enduring that if he ever fell Charlie would be there to stop it, or if he couldn't stop Draco falling he would cushion the blow and pick him back up again time and time again.
"You know, your kisses are excellent and I am definitely not complaining, but something tells me kisses aren't going to chase the demons away," Draco mumbled against Charlie's lips, his fingers wound in his red hair pulling slightly.
"Yeah? Well I can damn well try. Just you watch," Charlie smirked as Draco moaned when Charlie's lips moved down his neck, gently biting and sucking on Draco's soft skin sending shivers down his spine.
Charlie backed them into the bedroom, closing the door behind him. Draco slept curled up against Charlie's side, and for the first time in months he wasn't plagued with night terrors.