Disclaimer: Everything is by Jo. The wildflowers idea is from a challenge. :)
Just like that she had packed her trunks, bought a Portkey ticket and left England for Romania. She had no idea what had possessed her to choose Romania of all other places she could have chosen. It was certainly a place that was new to her. And she was finding the thought of something new somehow appealing. The old and tiresome had gotten to her.
Who was she kidding? Ron had gotten to her. Their incompatibility had been more and more apparent as the time they spent together had gotten longer. She could no longer ignore it. And telling him so, she had left. And, knowing that he would certainly badger her about it she had ran off to some place he couldn't find her.
There was no denying that she loved Ron. She'd loved him for the longest time. But, leaving just as she had was turning into one of brightest ideas she'd had in a while. And considering who she was, that was certainly saying something.
She told herself to start walking for standing in the middle of the Portkey landing was certainly not the wisest thing for her to do. Ever practical, she set off to find some place to stay. Being in a country where she didn't speak the native language certainly had its drawbacks. And, going there in the impulse of the moment without any plans whatsoever were much worse.
She looked back at where she had landed from her travel via Portkey and her eyes widened. She couldn't believe this was happening. After all, she had done everything she could possibly do to keep her location a secret.
There it was, the trademark Weasley hair. And she began panicking at the thought that her blessed few hours of freedom was gone. How could she have underestimated his intelligence? She had not been as careful as she would have liked in covering her tracks. She looked around for a place to hide and found none that would serve the purpose perfectly.
So she contemplated running. After all, he was also new to the country and was liable to get as lost as she. She packed her trunks into her pockets and looked frantically for as many people as she could so she could blend in.
She froze. The voice seemed familiar but not as familiar as she expected it to be. Turning around she came face to face with someone she had not really expected to see. Even though she was in Romania.
He ran his fingers through that trademark scarlet hair and Hermione chided herself for not noticing how his was darker and longer than Ron's was. Then again, she had panicked and had good reason for reacting as she had. But the relief she felt in seeing that it was Charlie was so great that she gave him a great big smile and, if not for her common sense, rather contemplated giving him a big hug.
To stop herself from acting ridiculous, she held out her hand in a friendly gesture. Thankfully, Charlie reached out and gave it a squeeze, and without letting go started leading her away from the middle of the Portkey station.
"So, Hermione… Romania, huh?" Charlie threw her a disarming grin coupled with a wink that had Hermione genuinely confused.
"What do you mean Charlie? It's a nice country and I haven't ever been here before, to be honest." She gave him a small smile and blushed at the knowing look on Charlie's face.
"I would have believed that a couple of weeks ago Hermione but I came from the Burrow just now. When you reach my age you have sudden impulses to visit family every now and then." Charlie shrugged and looked down at Hermione, who managed to blush even harder.
"Oh." Her mouth was stuck in a small 'O' as she struggled to keep the truth from cropping up but looking at Charlie she knew that he knew what the truth actually was.
"So you actually know, don't you, Charlie?" Hermione gave him a dejected sort of smile that made him rumple her hair as he occasionally did Ginny's.
"Yeah. There was a lot of drama in the house so I left almost as soon as I came." Charlie laughed as he took Hermione to a small café where they could have some food and drink and sit down.
After they had ordered, Charlie looked at Hermione and the lost look that had come into her eyes. "So, Hermione, how long do you plan on staying in Romania?"
"I have no idea. As long as I feel necessary, I suppose. England is home but it just doesn't feel as welcoming as it usually does at the moment." She fiddled with the glass of water they'd been served upon sitting down.
"I suppose I can understand that. Where are you staying while you're here then?"
"Oh, I don't know. I was planning to look for some sort of inn after this."
Contemplating a plan that he didn't know would work, Charlie weighed options in his mind. He could suggest a good inn for her to stay in or…
"How would you like to stay with me Hermione? I have lots of space and for at least the first few days you need to familiarize yourself with good ol' Romania. What do you think?"
Hermione smiled up at him. "Oh Charlie it doesn't seem proper. Not when…"
Charlie gestured madly with his hand as if trying to distract her, which caused Hermione to laugh. "Seriously though, Hermione, it wouldn't sit well with me if I just let you fend for yourself here. I've known you a long time and…"
Hermione tilted her head to the side, "And?"
"Well, never mind." Charlie waved his hand dismissively in the air, which Hermione grabbed. "And what, Charlie?"
He gazed seriously into her eyes and shrugged. "And you were almost family."
Hermione smiled and let all caution to the wind. "All right, I'll stay with you."
"I won't tell them, I promise." So he grabbed her hand and pulled her from the table, at which point they he Apparated her with him to his house.
She had been there two weeks and wasn't it incredible how much at home she felt. Charlie was very easy to get along with. It also didn't hurt that Charlie had a beautiful home. Certainly she hadn't expected anything quite like it.
Hermione had been sure when he'd offered her to stay over that it was because he had a large apartment or some other living arrangement of the sort. She hadn't expected him to have a house. It wasn't really big but it was comfortable and she had fallen in love with it at first sight.
Also, he was certainly a lovely housemate. He never expected her to cook or clean and other things like that. But her practicality and gratefulness made her do it anyway. It was simply a matter of this and that, after all. And she loved doing it for him. He certainly knew how to show his appreciation, after all.
Hermione not only loved the house, she also loved the area surrounding it. In particular, there was a field at the back that she loved to while away her day in. And because she had arrived just as winter had been ending, it was now spring and the field was proudly showing off all the beauty it held.
She had lots of free time now. Even with all the chores she was happy doing, taking a vacation from work and all the constant people in her life had a lot of ups. She enjoyed going to the field and sitting amongst the flowers and just reveling in their colors.
In Romania, nobody knew who she was. Or if they did, they didn't care as much as the wizards and witches back in England seemed to care. And she fell for the country because of that.
Since she'd been living in his house, he'd loved coming home after work more and more. He realized that having Hermione in his house made it more like home as each day passed. He couldn't find the nerve to tell her though. He was just a little bit shy about it and he knew her break was too new; too raw. For both of them.
He pushed opened the door of the house and the fragrance of freshly scrubbed floors assaulted him. He looked around the cheery place and looked for the person responsible for it.
"Hermione?" No answer. "Hermione are you here?" Still no answer and he felt his heart turn over in his chest.
No, he mustn't be foolish. She must have stepped out somewhere and, of course, she had every right to do so. They were friends and almost family; she didn't have any obligation where she was going and it was her right to leave at any time she saw fit.
After a few moments of standing and trying to analyze his feelings, his gaze fell upon the table by the fireplace. A piece of parchment was weighed down by a small stone; she'd left him a note after all.
I've gone to pick wildflowers. The house seemed to need it. No need to worry.
Relief bloomed, soft and steady and surged through him. He didn't question, as well, the tender sort of feeling fluttering in his chest at the thought of her picking wildflower to put around the house.
Acting on impulse and instinct, Charlie walked towards the back door and towards the field where he knew wildflowers grew with reckless abandon; so beautiful that they would attract anyone.
He saw her there, as he had expected. Her bushy brown hair lost amongst the color of the freely blooming flowers and somehow fitting right in.
Oh how she loved how they looked, smelled and felt like. She could spend forever among them but she knew that Charlie would go out searching for her if she did.
While looking about her, trying to decide which flowers would look best in the bottles and vases she'd hunted up in Charlie's house, instinct had her turning her head towards home.
There it was that trademark Weasley hair. She knew that he was looking for her and at the moment she didn't feel the need to question the tender sort of feeling that bloomed in her chest.
She walked towards him, a couple of wildflowers clutched in her hands.
He saw her walk towards him and so, too, started striding towards her in an effort to close the distance. When they were just a couple of feet near each other, he noticed the flowers in her hands and stopped walking towards her.
Taken aback she could not help it so she too stopped and watched him bend down to carefully select and pick flowers. After some time had gone by and his task accomplished, he started walking towards Hermione, who stood transfixed in the middle of the field.
Without a word, he presented the flowers he had picked to her. And, speechless, she took it from his hands and looked at them without precisely seeing them. Tears were blurring her eyes and she could not explain why.
No one had ever given her flowers before. The thought flew by unbidden through her mind and she knew why her eyes were suddenly filled with tears. Underneath the smart, brave witch exterior she was still a female inside and her heart swelled at the thought of being given flowers.
She looked up at him and saw him smiling at her. The smile was uncertain but very sweet and she answered it with one of her own. The words forced themselves out of her mouth. "Thank you."
Relief showed on his face even as he wondered at the tears that were shining in her eyes. "You're welcome."
She fingered a soft petal and hastily wiped the tears from her eyes. "You picked the beautiful ones."
He lifted a hand and wiped the tears from her cheeks. "I was thinking of how they'd suit you."
Hermione gasped and her hands tightened their hold on the flowers she held.
Charlie laughed and hugged Hermione on impulse. "And they do. And, I think, so do I."
Hermione felt emotion swirling towards her as she gave a small laugh, those watery brown eyes meeting intense blue, "You do."
~~fin. Review if you are so inclined. ;)