For Sam the beautiful, because she is my darling wifey and I love her to bits, and I haven't written her CharlieDraco in too long. ;)
Thanks to Paula and Nay for the confidence boost on a line I was struggling with.
The words that escape his lips are soft, barely audible even in the silence of the apartment. They carry the weight of sincerity — it is not a meaningless platitude slipping carelessly from his lips.
Charlie looks up at him through his lashes, and he doesn't move from his seat on the small couch.
Draco moves forward, drops to his knees in front of the man he loves, the man who has forgiven him even when Draco did not ask, who has put up with everything that Draco has ever thrown at him. Steady, unshakable, amiable, always-grinning Charlie.
He isn't grinning now. His face is drawn, tight.
"I am truly sorry," Draco says again, a hand on Charlie's cheek, gently tipping it so that Charlie will meet his eyes properly. "I was angry, and I took it out on you… in the way I knew it would hurt you most. It was… inexcusable."
The fury fades into hurt. "They're my family, Draco, and I know they aren't perfect but you can't just… the things you said…"
"I know," Draco murmurs. "I intended to hurt you, and I am sorry."
That is the third apology — more than Charlie has heard from Draco in the entire time he's known him. Draco doesn't really apologise. He was raised in a proud family, taught that he was always in the right. He'll murmur my apologies but that's only his subtle way of not apologising at all.
But Charlie knows Draco. He knows that the blonde has a vicious tendency to lash out when he feels wounded, just like the creature he is named for. He knows that because he is usually so severely in control of himself, when he loses that control the loss is absolute. He knows that Draco would not apologise if he did not genuinely mean it.
Charlie takes Draco's elbow, pulls him up onto the couch, onto level ground. Slowly, he wraps his arms around the other man. "I don't expect you to be perfect, you know," Charlie says. Draco smiles into his shoulders and returns the embrace.
"Probably a wise decision," he replies. "No matter what I like to pretend."
He can feel Charlie's deep chuckle. "You have leave to make mistakes as long as I have leave to call you out when you're being a total arse."
Draco feels a laugh bubbles up and he cannot help the stupid smile that spreads across his face, because this… this is exactly what he loves about Charlie. Charlie loves in the most absolutely unconditional fashion Draco has ever experienced.
"I do not deserve you," Draco whispers.
"You don't see yourself as I do. And even if that were true, love has never been about deserving. I am yours, for as long as you'll have me."
"As I am yours."
And it scares Draco how easy that is to admit. Scares him how easy it is to give Charlie the self he has spent so long closely guarding.
"I love you," Draco says, and he can hear in his own voice that same note of absolute wonder that is there every time he says the words. He never expected, never could have imagined what he has with Charlie. But now? Now he wouldn't trade it for the world.