Notes: Still no actual explicit smut, but hopefully this provides a more satisfying ending to my previous dudley_redeemed fic. This was written for the 2013 dudley_redeemed fest on livejournal.

A thousand 'thank you's to emansil_12 for everything including twizzlers, but specifically for the beta.

Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all associated characters and settings remain the intellectual property of JK Rowling and her associates. We are very grateful for permission to play with them. The title and quoted lyrics are taken from the Placebo song of the same name.

Warning(s): Brief and mild homophobia and Muggle phobia, boxing, references to oral sex and other sexual acts.

"It's so lovely to have you home at last—"

"It's just for the summer, Mum, I'm—"

"Yes, yes, but I'm sure we can find you a job a bit closer to home this time. They do have dragons in Wales, you know."

"Yes, Mum."

"You don't have to work all that way over there in Romania."

"No, Mum."

"And let's just see if we can't find you an incentive to stay a bit closer to home this time. Maybe a nice pretty witch to be close to, eh?"

"Look, Mum—"

"Or wizard. I know. Wizard would be fine. You know that. A special someone. That's all I'm saying."

"Mum, I'm not ready to settle down yet."

"You say that now, but when you meet—"


Charlie hated the way his mother could turn him into a whining twelve-year old with only a few minutes' conversation. He had a strong urge to storm out of the kitchen and slam the door.

He was properly pissed off about losing his job in Romania. Somehow someone had found out about his recruiting work for the Order during Voldemort's rise and had declared that it invalidated the 'conflict of interest' clause in his contract. The Board was weighted with old style Durmstrang graduates who hadn't been willing to turn a blind eye.

He looked out of the kitchen window at the meadow and the drizzle and ached for mountains.

"Ron and his friends are meeting up in the Leaky Cauldron tonight. You should go along, take your mind off things." Molly thrust a pile of wet plates at him and he pulled out his wand to dry them. Then she waggled her eyebrows and he sighed inwardly. "Maybe meet someone there."

Well, he was going to go mad if he spent another night in with his parents. "Why not?" he acquiesced with.

The Leaky was just as he remembered it, but Ron's mates were all different. Of course he knew that Ron had grown up. He'd been taller than Charlie for a years now, but then he'd started to fill out about the same time the Death Eater trouble had started to hot up. In some ways the heroism had made him old beyond his years, but in other ways it had held him back. In the couple of years since Voldemort's death he'd caught up.

So it shouldn't have been a surprise to have seen all those squeaky spotty school kids Charlie remembered from the Triwizard Cup looking like adults. But it was. Neville Longbottom was barely recognisable. In fact, he was hot. Was that ok? To think like that? Were these kids old enough now for Charlie to find them attractive, or would the age gap always make it creepy? None of the witches were to his taste. Well, except for Angelina, but she was with George. The rest of them were the wispy sort who lived off lettuce leaves and looked like they'd snap in a strong wind, let alone underneath a burly bloke like Charlie.

Charlie made it to the bar without getting into any conversations longer than a nod and a 'hi'. Old Tom's pump hand had developed a shake. Charlie wondered how long he'd carry on before selling up, and that made Charlie feel old. How many years had he been drinking here on and off? Perhaps his mum was right; maybe it was time to settle down. Except that he didn't want to. He didn't want to be a Weasley family man. Weren't there enough of them already? Could he not be allowed to roam and court danger and have adventures until the end of his days?

Ah, but his favourite adventure had been taken away from him. Dragons. He downed his first pint angrily, thinking about tossers like Tvolkav who knew next to nothing about dragons, but whose father had the right connections; he was still employed at the Reserve, while Charlie mouldered here with no life plan. Whatever else anyone might say about Charlie, he knew that he was bloody good at his job. He ordered another pint and looked around for a seat.

He straightened up. Hermione was heading for him. She had a determined look in her eye and Ron was walking behind her looking apologetic. He braced himself.

"I want you to meet someone," Hermione said.

So Hermione was in league with his mother.

"You don't have to—" Ron started.

"It can't do any harm," Hermione interrupted with. "Come on, over here."

The two brothers exchanged a glance behind her back. It was a look wherein they weighed up the option of ignoring her order and both decided that it wasn't worth it. They squeezed past groups of loudly chatting customers in order to follow her to a table where Hermione sat herself down near to a very wan and miserable-looking youth.

"Charlie, this is Dennis."

"Pleased to meet you, Dennis."

Dennis barely looked up. Charlie wondered how he'd been persuaded to spend the evening in this noisy, smoky pub. He didn't look like he was enjoying having company.

Hermione looked expectantly between Dennis and Charlie.

"Hello, Charlie. I don't think we've met," said a blonde girl with a floaty voice who was sitting opposite Dennis.

"Not now, Luna," Hermione snapped.

"You must be one of Ron's brothers," Luna continued regardless – which Charlie thought was very brave. "Why don't you sit down?"

She patted the seat beside hers. Charlie looked to Hermione for permission.

"Why don't you sit here, Charlie, next to Dennis?" Hermione asked, her voice full of forced sweetness.

There was a pause. Then Hermione jerked her head and Ron scampered to her side like a well-trained pet.

"I thought you said he was…" she hissed.

"Well, he is, but that doesn't mean he's…"

Hermione gave an exasperated sigh. Dennis remained expressionless.

"I need the loo," Charlie said. He needed to get away from poor Dennis and whatever Hermione was planning for the two of them.

Just then, Hermione emitted one of her excited squeaks, though, and dashed off, so Charlie stayed where he was.

Ron raised his eyebrows at Charlie once she'd gone. "I'm sorry, she thought…" Ron looked at the floor then. "See, Dennis has –" he looked over to Dennis, then stopped, looked at Charlie and added, "…and he's—so she—" Ron turned his gaze to his girlfriend's retreating form. "Oh Morgana! Excuse me." Ron took his unfinished sentences and unformed explanations with him as he sprinted off across the pub.

Hermione was approaching a tall, anxious-looking man in Muggle clothes. The man seemed to be looking at Charlie. He was, fit, too. Now there was a body which wouldn't break under Charlie's weight. Of course he'd be straight. Bound to be, with a mixture of that much brawn and Charlie's luck. When Hermione reached him, the man's attention shifted to her. What might Hermione want with him? Not the same as she'd wanted from Charlie? Charlie turned round and looked back at Dennis. Poor lad. Whatever he was grieving for it would be a long time before he was ready to be paired up with anyone. Charlie downed his pint and headed back towards the bar.

He sat at a stool and watched Old Tom and he drank. He wished he'd brought a book; he didn't want to talk to anyone. He finished his third pint a bit more slowly than the first two.

"Have you seen the new coloured lights in the Alley?" asked a soft voice beside him.

It was the blonde girl. Luna. "It's nice to have fresh air, isn't it? You'll be more comfortable out there."

"There are lights in Diagon Alley?"

"Oh, yes. And some of the shops are open in the evening now. It's like Spain. Apart from the drizzle. Come and have a look. You won't feel so sick out there."

He did feel sick. He was nauseated by the shadow the Death Eaters were still casting, and by the net his family still held him in. Fresh air: great idea.

He and Luna walked for a while along the Alley. It looked like a healthy, happy place. It, at least, had recovered. She pointed out some of the new shops, but mostly the two of them were silent, until they had passed Wheezes. Then she said, unexpectedly, "Hermione doesn't understand sexuality."

"Right," Charlie said, not wanting to commit to any opinions or revelations just yet.

"She thinks it's all about gender and roles and types. She thinks that monogamy will save everyone, because it saved her." Luna looked up at Charlie. "But we know better, don't we?"

It was the strangest 'come-on' he'd ever been subjected to. If that was what it was.

"It's about a connection to someone. Some people only ever connect to one gender of person and that makes them think that that means something, that it can become a thing that they are."

Charlie nodded. "They live the label." He thought of all the fecund heterosexuals who made up his family.

"Labels are for trunks and potions ingredients," Luna agreed. At least, he thought it was an agreement. She sighed. "But now I feel like I'm keeping you from something important."

"No, no, I'm listening. I'm very interested," he insisted, not wanting to be rude.

"I know you are, but you shouldn't be. Let's get back to the pub."

The nausea started up again. The thought of the Leaky exhausted him. "Thanks for the tour," he said. "I'll walk you back but then I'm heading home."

He did just that and as soon as he got home he went through the Prophet, the Quibbler and the international trade papers yet again in the vain hopes that a dream job vacancy had appeared in them while he'd been out. He slept and woke and did that again.

The Welsh Reserve seemed to be the only one in Europe which was recruiting. Charlie couldn't decide whether he was right to be reluctant to work so close to where his family lived, or whether he was just resisting the inevitability of aging leading to settling down. When he was married with all the kids he actually, apparently, must want, then he'd be glad to be so close to free childcare. At least, that's what he kept being told. He didn't want to get older. There was no stopping it, though. He could see that in the greying hairs at his temples and even on his chest. He could see it in the lines on his face and the hard-tanned skin on his cheeks. He could feel it in the effort of straightening his back when he got out of bed in the morning.

Was he just resisting settling down because that meant he was getting old; or was he resisting the aging process because that meant he would have to settle down?

There were a couple of vacancies in New Zealand, but that was too far away. Wasn't it?

He took every opportunity to get away from The Burrow. Even babysitting. He stared at Victoire's eyelids as she slept. Tiny ginger lashes. She amazed him. Bill had made her. Weird. With Fleur. Now that was a woman. He'd admired her grace and strength during the Triwizard Cup. His brothers were taking all the strong women off the market; if he waited any longer then Charlie wasn't going to have the chance to get married and have babies.

He didn't envy Bill, though. He knew he was supposed to feel some pull to this domesticity, some urge to parent and nurture, but it wasn't there. He looked at the baby equipment, cute nick nacks and fabric-covered furniture of Shell Cottage and it looked like being buried alive.

When he got back down to the kitchen, he found an owl waiting for him. The address was written as Everyone I know and the signature was Harry's. That was a neat bit of magic; he'd have to ask Harry how to do a mass owling like that. Not that he could think of any circumstances in which he'd need it. It wasn't like he was going to have a stag do. The stag night he wouldn't mind, but you had to have a wedding to go with it.

Dear everyone,

My cousin, Dudley, has a Muggle boxing match on Saturday night, so if

you want to support him (he's helped us out a lot recently) and want to see

Muggles hit each other, come along. Meet at Hogwarts at 5 o'clock

and I'll get us there. I'm going so I can see him get punched because

he did that to me often enough when we were kids,


Watch Muggles hitting each other? What the hell had this country come to? Charlie chucked the parchment onto the fire. That was another thing: why did Bill have to have a fire lit in bloody August? Charlie had no intention of spending any more time than he had to under these depressing grey skies. It was looking more and more like his future was going to be in New Zealand.

Charlie missed the crisp decisiveness of Romanian weather. The winters were harsh and frosty, but the summers were bright. England was smothered by a blanket of grey cloud all year long.

The next day, Charlie found that Ron was all excited about this 'boxing' plan. Their dad didn't take much persuading to view Muggles at play, though their mum thought it might be a little blood-thirsty for her. Charlie had watched her degnoming and thought that somewhat hypocritical.

"Oh, but you should go, Charlie. Do you good to get out and about," she said, adding "meet people" with meaningful emphasis.

Charlie just shrugged; he started looking in the larder more as an excuse to keep his back to his ridiculous family than because he actually wanted any more biscuits. He was going to have to watch this, too many baked goods and not enough exercise now he wasn't working. Mind you, maybe his mum would stop trying to pair him off if he managed to make himself too obese to be attractive to anyone except Slughorn (who was known to have a type).

"…Ron's friends who you met in the pub the other night? Any of them catch your eye?" Molly was asking.

Charlie shrugged, feeling nauseous again. Not a one of them had done anything for him. He wondered whether age was robbing him of his sex drive.

"Did you meet Dudley that night? I can't remember," Ron said. "Harry's cousin, the boxer we're all off to watch. He was there. Broad, blond bloke."

Oh, yeah, except for that one.

Charlie didn't turn to face Ron as he asked, "That the one you and Hermione were talking to? After she tried to set me up with poor Dennis?"

"Oh, yeah, sorry about that. She gets these things in her head. Erm, yeah, that's Dudley."

Makes sense, he looked like a Muggle . "He's the one who'll be boxing?"

"It's a fascinating sport," Arthur interrupted with. He was hunched over a big book on the kitchen table. "Sounds barbaric but it's got a noble history. And there are so many rules. The Muggles have invented all sorts of safety equipment. Take a look at this."

Despite himself, Charlie dropped the lavender shortbread back in the tin and wandered over to look over his father's shoulder. It was a Magical book – the pictures were moving – but it was full of information on Muggle events and pass-times. His dad should be writing one of these, nevermind reading one. At the top of one page there was a short entry on Bear Baiting ( Doesn't happen anymore ) and at the bottom of the next page the start of an article on Bubble Blowing ( Muggle children enjoy blow soap bubbles as much as our own… ) and most of the space in between was taken up by lists of injuries, boxers' names, equipment etc, and a photograph of two sweaty men in their undershorts grappling in front of a large audience.

Charlie's first instinct was to look away. His dad shouldn't be looking at pictures like that, should he? And if he was, then Charlie certainly didn't want to catch him at it. When Charlie looked back the two boxers had broken apart and were dancing from foot to foot, jabbing occasional punches at each other.

"That blond guy, he's going to be doing that, is he?" Charlie asked. He couldn't work out whether the headgear on the boxers was a bad thing because he couldn't see their faces properly, or something nicely kinky.

"You interested?" Ron asked, then laughed.

"When is it, Saturday?" Charlie regretted burning his invitation now.

"You'll never guess what it was Hermione was talking to Dudley about at the pub," Ron continued, with a smirk.

There was sweat flying all over the photo. After recovering from the sight of their bare torsos and thighs, Charlie could now see that both men were wearing red balls on both hands. One of them swung his back and hit the other on the shoulder with it.

"He wasn't interested in Dennis either."

Charlie felt something crack in his neck he turned his head so quickly in his brother's direction. "He's gay?"

Ron laughed. "Yeah. Interested?"

"Oh, Charlie!" Molly tutted. "But he's a—he's a Muggle. I'm sure you can—"

"Now now, Molly," Arthur reprimanded gently. He looked meaningfully at Ron.

"Oh no, don't be silly. Hermione's only Muggle born . You know that's completely different. Harry's cousin is an actual magic-less Muggle. And when the two of them were younger—"

"But he's been a great help recently, hasn't he, Ron?"

"Invaluable," Ron answered his father. "He's had a hard time lately. He could probably do with being asked out for a drink by somebody."

"I'll watch the match, but that's it. You're as bad as your girlfriend." Charlie escaped back up to his bedroom.

He sat heavily on the bed. His heart was hammering away in his chest. He'd started to wonder if he wasn't past all this. It had been a very long time since he'd had any sexual interest in anyone. He'd almost resigned himself to a celibate future. That picture in Dad's book, though, coupled with the knowledge that Dudley liked men, had started up a stirring in him which reminded him of being much younger.

Every time they tried to dress like Muggles, Magic folk all ended up looking ridiculous. They were certainly looking a different sort of ridiculous to all the Muggles in the queue outside the square brick building. Luna wore a headband which projected the letters " Y" into the air around her. She winked and nodded at Charlie. He smiled back, wondering whether he'd just agreed to something by doing that.

They sat on the rows of flimsy chairs, which Arthur assured Charlie were made of something called plastic, which he claimed was made out of dead dragons buried under the sea millions of years ago, but that had to be something Muggle he'd got wrong. Charlie closed his eyes for a moment. The noise from all the chatting around him was deafening. And then suddenly there was silence. Charlie looked up.

He couldn't see much, just a man in a stripy shirt announcing things into a black ball with a wire trailing from it. He sounded like he had a sonorous on, but it must have been something to do with electrickery because this place was Muggle. He talked very fast. Charlie caught the name 'Dudley Dur—something' and then he saw him, walking through the room, wearing a robe of some sort. He looked focussed inside himself as he climbed into the raised stage through the ropes surrounding it. When Dudley looked up Charlie became aware that all around him people were clapping and cheering. He brought his own hands together as Dudley scanned the audience. He knew the instant that he was recognised. Dudley smiled round something in his mouth and Charlie found himself grinning back. Then the eye contact was broken, leaving Charlie with a fluttering in his stomach.

Dudley slipped the silky robe from his shoulders; Charlie forgot about breathing for a while. He was in those tiny shorts the men in the book had been wearing. The thick waistband hugged his toned, hair-flecked belly. His broad chest, tight nipples and strong shoulders were perfect. Charlie couldn't have snapped him if he'd put all of his resources into the attempt: Magical as well as physical.

The fight was hard to follow. They were stopped frequently, and it was a mystery how it was being judged. Charlie gave up and watched the graceful shifting of Dudley's muscles instead. Sweat shone off his thick thighs. After one nasty punch, blood flew from Dudley's mouth. Charlie rose to his feet, ready to jump in and administer healing spells, but the fighting wasn't stopped and Charlie remembered himself in time, sitting back down hard and shoving his wand back up his sleeve. Bells rang at strange times. Then Dudley would sit down and Charlie would watch water droplets trickling down his face and onto his chest, before the hitting and dancing about started again.

Dudley was declared the winner; there had never been any doubt in Charlie's mind that he would be. Charlie was hardly aware that there had been another boxer. Dudley jogged out of the room and it was only then that Charlie realised that he was sitting next to a huge argument between George and Percy regarding 'Wet Start Fireworks'.

Harry led the way through the hall out into a corridor.

"Let's hope he's getting undressed, eh?" Ron said with a wink, and Charlie realised that they were heading to the changing rooms. Hermione told Ron off, so he didn't have to. The door was shut. Everyone around Charlie was celebrating loudly. Dudley was on the other side of that door. Charlie's heart sped up. That was daft; it wasn't like he was about to ask the guy out, not with all these people around. Everyone else knew Dudley. Charlie was a stranger to him. He wasn't going to care whether Charlie was there or not.

Just when Charlie decided that he was going to go home, though, the door opened and he was caught up in the crowd which surged through. It wasn't a big room; they filled it easily. Charlie allowed himself to be shunted into a corner. Dudley seemed to be sitting on a table, wearing nothing but those short, shiny pants, but Charlie couldn't see him very well because of all the other people.

Dudley spoke softly. Charlie caught the odd word which was said to him, but none of Dudley's answers. He hung back until Ron grabbed his wrist and yanked him forward. Ron pushed through the crowd with Charlie following. Dudley looked up as they approached, then he looked past Ron and straight at Charlie. Their eyes locked and time stood still. Silly, at his age, to feel to smitten, but Charlie was lost. When Ron introduced him, he was drawn forward, closer to the slack face of Harry's cousin who looked nothing like him. "We meet at last, Dudley," he found himself saying.

Ron was giving him a look. Charlie was trying to impress here, and he couldn't afford to have his baby brother smirking at him. He had to get rid of Ron.

Inspiration struck: "Get the man a drink, Ron," Charlie said

"What?" Ron asked.

"The champ here doesn't have a drink. He's the man of the moment. You should sort that out." Ron took the hint, luckily, and disappeared. Dudley was looking right back at Charlie. Oh, Merlin, they were thinking the same thing. This was not the time or the place to be thinking about things like that. The man was almost naked. Charlie could have reached out and run his hand down Dudley's hard, bare chest – would have done if the crowds had disappeared. Instead he said, "So that's boxing? I liked it. It was ..." might as well be honest: "Hot."

The way Dudley looked back at him made Charlie want to kiss him. He intended to kiss him before the night was out. Oh, but Dudley's lip was cut. That was going to get in the way of things. Charlie's wand slipped down his sleeve. He was vaguely aware that he wasn't meant to do magic in front of Muggles, but strongly aware that Dudley was hurt and that Dudley's mouth had been the stuff of dreams before it had been wrecked.

Before he had thought anything through, Charlie found himself casting a healing spell on Dudley's lips. He leaned over so that his mouth was over Dudley's ear. "Purely self-interested, I assure you."

That sounded smooth; Charlie liked that. He could smell Dudley's sweat, with just a little blood mixed into it. It was doing things to Charlie. The biteable flesh of Dudley's ear was just under Charlie's teeth.

Then someone screamed and everyone looked over, so Charlie jerked his head away. A bony, middle-aged woman was forcing her way through the crowd, with a puffing, purple-faced man behind her. Charlie edged backwards, not sure exactly what was going on, but knowing it was not a good thing. Then she looked straight at Charlie and shrilled, "You get away from him! I don't want your sort going anywhere near my Dudley!"

Charlie backed off.

"That's actually homophobic, Mrs Dursley. That's illegal, that is," said a young man standing nearby. Mrs Dursley? Dudley's mother? Charlie looked with astonishment between the two of them, trying to work out how they could possibly be related, while memories of tales his own mother had told him about Harry's upbringing surfaced at random in his brain. Bars on the windows. Sleeping in a cupboard. Starvation…

It was Harry himself who spoke next: "Dudley can choose his own friends, Petunia."

"That's Aunt Petunia to you! What are you even doing here? What are these people doing here?"

Dudley looked wrong-footed, but like he was recovering, which was more than Charlie felt he was. "I invited them, I never invited you," Dudley muttered truculently.

The fat man behind Dudley's mother must have got his breath back, because he reached round her to grab Dudley's hand and say, "Good match, son, well fought." That left no doubt, then. This was the father. "Come home, Dud. We miss you. We – you tell him, Petunia."

"We love you, Duddikins!"

Duddikins? Seriously? Charlie had to bite the inside of his cheek to stop himself from sniggering, in spite of the clear seriousness of the situation.

"I don't know," Dudley mumbled.

Mrs Dursley said, "It doesn't matter about your little problem. We don't have to mention it. We love you."

Charlie watched a change come over Dudley. An energy coloured his cheeks and straightened his back. For the first time since they had walked in, he looked his parents straight in their faces. Charlie was very grateful that it wasn't him on the receiving end of that look.

"You love me?" Dudley asked, his voice full of scorn.

The room was silent. Everyone in it was watching this exchange.

"Yes, of course we do."

"Do you love me now?"

Charlie found himself being grasped by the chin and, before he'd had time to react, Dudley's mouth was on his own. There was a reaction in the room, but Charlie's brain was fading it out, his body was focussed on his mouth, on the movement of Dudley's mouth against his own. Oh, that was nice. That was very nice! Charlie fell into the kiss. His eyes closed and his hands fell onto the bare skin of Dudley's chest, which he'd been aching to touch all evening. He slid his palms down to Dudley's waist, and then round to his back.

Charlie could have kept going for a few more hours, but after far too short a time, Dudley broke the kiss and glared at his mother.

"Still love me, Mum? I'm not the one with the problem, you are. And I don't think that I can just move back to your house and ignore it."

A warmth filled Charlie then, a desire to protect Dudley and an appreciation of the man's strength. He hugged harder. There was another desire, though, which was even stronger, so he whispered, "Shall we take this somewhere a little less public?"

Dudley slid off the table and pressed even closer to Charlie for a few seconds, before gripping his elbow and pulling him out of the room. Their progress was followed by cat calls and whistles. Charlie could not have cared less, though Dudley looked to be blushing a little.

A painted corridor, then another, and it all smelled of male sweat, and Dudley's half-stripped body was so close that it was driving Charlie to distraction. Then all of a sudden there was cold air on his skin, fifty yards of street-lit black ground and Muggle vehicles. Dudley had a bag with him, he must have picked it up as they'd left the changing room, Charlie hadn't noticed. Dudley was rooting through it, until he threw it to the ground and Charlie felt the cold metal of a car door against his back and the hot body of a boxer against his front. Dudley was swearing, but not for long, because soon they were kissing again. Charlie ignored everything else and concentrated on the kissing.

There were firm muscles and slick skin under his fingers, and a hard prick pressed into his belly. Charlie pushed his own erection against Dudley's thigh. Teeth clashed. Dudley's hot breath left his nose and hit Charlie's cheek. Charlie wasn't holding back; with this guy he didn't need to. He wasn't worried about hurting him. He wasn't scared that he'd get hurt either, even though he was the one being shoved against the metal.

Something cold and wet hit Charlie's forehead. Then another drop hit his forearm where it held Dudley's back. The slick, hot nakedness against him became covered in goosepimples and a tapdance of tiny raindrops set up a steady pattern on their heads. Dudley broke the kiss and swore again.

He bent down to pick up the bag he had dropped earlier and muttered apologetically, "Guess I'd better find that car key after all."

Dudley groped around inside the dark interior of the holdall and Charlie admired the thickness of his arm for a minute while rain ran down his nose, before he realised that he could help. He slipped his wand down his sleeve so that the tip peeped out, and cast a Lumos . Dudley flinched briefly, but then smiled and grunted, "Thanks."

There were grey clothes in the bag, and bottles and cans, and brightly white socks and underwear, and there was a flat square with a glass screen with writing on it. Then there was a glint of metal and Dudley's noise of relief as he fished out the key. He pointed it at Charlie (that was his turn to flinch) then there was a bleep and a flash of lights at the car's corners. Charlie jumped from the car in surprise.

Dudley laughed and pulled open the car door behind Charlie. "Big man like you scared of an unlocking system?"

"Shut up. Duddikins ," Charlie responded with.

"In you get." Dudley pushed Charlie into the car.

He landed flat on his back on soft-ish seats, with no chance to bounce before Dudley's body landing on his knocked his wind out of him. Dudley bit into his neck, making Charlie gasp.

"Your shirt's wet," Dudley mumbled against Charlie's skin.

"We'd better get me out of these wet things, then," Charlie replied softly.

Dudley groaned and jerked his hips, rubbing his cock against Charlie's. "Shit, I wish I could see you properly," he said. "I want to see you."

"I'm staying at my parents' place," Charlie apologised. "Can't really take anyone back there."

"We can go to mine, but it's a mess and Magic people appear without warning and anyway I'm in no fit state to drive."

"I'm in no fit state to Apparate us there," Charlie agreed.

They looked into each other's faces, just staring for the moment. Charlie noticed that their legs were still sticking out of the car and that they were getting wetter.

"Better get our legs in and shut the door," he said. "We can go back to yours after. Am I invited to stay the night?"

"After?" Dudley asked. He moved away, shifting his legs around, closing the door. He kept looking at the door catch as he said quietly. "I've never done anything."

Charlie sat up. It was a squash here on the back seat and it wasn't a big car. He moved over and Dudley sat next to him, but he still wasn't looking at Charlie.

"Never done what?"

"Anything. With a man. With anyone. I mean, I've got porn, but—"

"Wow! I can't believe you haven't had offers." Charlie stroked down Dudley's arm.

"None I wanted to take up."

"My shirt's still wet."

Dudley looked over then. "Yeah. Do you want me to, I mean—should – could I take it off you, then?"

Charlie nodded and sat back, as relaxed as he could be, against the seat. His heart was still pounding and his cock was throbbing but he wasn't going to rush this. It's worth it . He was sure it was, but he didn't know how he knew that. He would take things slow and he would protect this guy – built like a brick shithouse or not – because it was his first time and that was special. And scary.

With his thick fingers trembling (which might have been from cold), Dudley unbuttoned Charlie's wet shirt. He swallowed and looked at Charlie's chest. He gave an assessing look at Charlie's face, before running a finger through Charlie's ginger chest hair. Charlie was glad of the gloom, because it kept his grey hairs invisible. Not that that mattered much.

Dudley's strokes got bolder, so Charlie mirrored them on Dudley's chest. After several minutes of silence, Charlie asked, "What do you want?"

Dudley looked down and shrugged, biting his lip.

"How about if I suck you off and then we drive to your place where we can take things a bit more slowly?" Charlie asked, as gently as he could. "Your shoulder hurting?"

"Not too bad." Dudley rolled his shoulder. "You want to do that?"

"Very much." Charlie tried to keep the intensity of his want out of his voice.

Dudley grinned. "Yeah. Ok." He leaned down and fiddled with some kind of mechanism on the seat in front of him, then shoved it forwards as he asked. "Did you say you want to stay the night after?"

"If you like."

"Yeah, yeah. That'd be great." Dudley sat back and nodded towards the small space he'd created in front of him. "Might be more comfortable," he said shyly.

Charlie's mouth watered at the sight of the tenting in Dudley's shorts. He reached over to take hold of the wide, stretchy waistband, and he pulled that down to Dudley's muscular thighs. For a few hours after that – with the exception of a short, exhausted car journey –Charlie was more focussed on his senses than he was on doing any thinking. His mind cleared a little at about the same time as the sun began to rise.

Dudley lived in a building full of tiny one-room homes like his. The other inhabitants must have heard what they'd been up to, Charlie realised as he made his way back along the landing from the small shared bathroom. They were both big men and they'd been throwing each other around, which must have caused a lot of banging about, though he hadn't been aware of that at the time.

Dudley was lying sprawled naked across the bed with his rump in the air when Charlie got back to the room. He was staring at the flat, glass-fronted thing. He was smiling widely. Charlie took off the towel he'd been wearing round his waist for modesty.

"There were agents at the match," Dudley said. "My trainer, Ed, just texted me. Well, I think he might have sent the texts a while ago and there are a couple of missed calls, but we were erm…" he looked up cheekily at Charlie.

"Agents?" Charlie asked, with only a vague idea about anything Dudley was saying.

"For boxing. For professional boxing. They're a bit interested, Ed said." Dudley sat up and grinned.

Charlie sat down next to him. "So that means?"

"Means quite a lot's going to change." Dudley nodded and looked at his surroundings and then looked at Charlie. "Good changes. Like meeting you, like tonight."

"You liked that?"

"Yeah. I'd, um…" Dudley shrugged and looked away. "Wouldn't mind doing that again."

"Me, too." Charlie wanted to do those things with Dudley a lot more. But how many times, how often? For how long? Was Dudley looking for a long term boyfriend? Might Charlie be? "I've been thinking about some changes myself," Charlie said. "Moving away maybe. I don't know now."

"Think you might want to hang around here for me?" Dudley looked pleased. "It's different, though, with Magic travelling, isn't it? I mean, you could transport yourself round anywhere in next to no time."

"That's true."

"I'll be travelling around a lot. Probably be based in London. But might be anywhere."

"New Zealand?"

"Unlikely. That where you're going?" Dudley frowned.

"I thought I might."

Dudley looked a bit sad, but not devastated. "We'll both be busy for a few years. But we can see each other. Can't we? Like once a week on a good week. Something like that. I really don't want to lose touch with you. You wouldn't believe the men everyone's been trying to set me up with!"

Charlie laughed. "Yeah, Hermione tried to pair you up with poor Dennis, too, didn't she? Don't worry, I won't let anyone force any more pretty boys on you."

Dudley sighed with what must have been exaggerated relief. "You should go to New Zealand, though, if that's what you want. No point either of us wasting away around here anymore." Dudley looked sideways at Charlie. "But not yet, eh? Not for a few hours."

"Not for a few more hours," Charlie agreed.

"I've texted Mr Stafford that I'll phone him in the morning. I said I'm in stamina training."

Charlie chuckled, then pushed on Dudley's good shoulder to lay him out on the bed. "We'd better keep training then."

The rain beat steadily on the window, but the men on the bed barely noticed it.

Always stays the same, nothing ever changes,
English summer rain seems to last for ages.
Always stays the same, nothing ever changes,
English summer rain seems to last for ages.

Hold your breath and count to ten,
And fall apart and start again,
hold your breath and count to ten,
Start again, start again...

Charlie didn't have to be single and he didn't have to settle down: those weren't the only options. Luna was right in some way which Charlie wasn't about to analyse now. Now Dudley was under his hands and between his thighs and his smell and taste and texture were all that Charlie wanted to concern himself with.