Charlotte sat in the bed staring across the room.
CeCe looked at the young woman with sympathy as she walked by.
"Charlotte, let me bring you some lunch." The woman begged.
Charlotte just shook her head. CeCe sighed and walked away from her with a look of concern on her face.
Three miscarriages in eight months. Four if you went back to September. The current one made all the more miserable since yesterday had been May 2, Victoire's birthday. It was the hardest blow of all. One year ago, they stood side by side looking into the baby's face, dreaming of their own baby. Only, their own would never come. The more heartache they endured, the more she was sure.
After the second, the Ministry had unceremoniously recalled the pair back to England. They wanted their own doctors to check the couple over. Not seeing any way around the situation, it was Percy and Bill who told Arthur what happened. Twice.
He and Molly were waiting in the International Travel Office when Charlotte and Charlie had arrived. Molly took charge of the couple and brought them to the safe confines of the Burrow where she made a job of coddling them both into insanity. Her friends came as well, whisking Charlotte away from her room and into the girl's shared sanctuary for a day of pampering, catching up and crying. It helped. Marginally.
The following day, however, was another blow to Charlotte. The healer assigned to the case was course and arrogant. He questioned everything.
According to her medical history, Charlotte had anorexic tendencies. Was she starving herself and the baby in a quest to remain thin? Charlie was bitten several times by dragons. Did he have too much venom in his bloodstream to produce children? Charlotte was training to be a healer. Was her inexperience causing her to mix potions that would best be left to others as opposed to a pregnant trainee? It was not secret Charlie fought the law to begin with. Was he poisoning his wife to prevent children from being born? Charlie was also violent. Was he beating his wife?
They endured the insults to their person as well as they could. That was, at least, until they moved outside the couple themselves.
"It is my understanding that several of your friends have shown a romantic interest in your wife, Mr. Weasley. Do you think any of them would have tried to prevent the child to be born in an effort to claim her for themselves?" The irritating doctor looked up from his endless list of questions.
"OUR friends," Charlie emphasized the first word, "have stood by us and at times held us together when we could not continue on our own."
"You trust them," the healer sneered.
"With my life every day I enter the reserve to work," Charlie replied through gritted teeth.
"So you feel they could dispatch you easily enough and make it look like an accident if they really wanted to take your wife as their own?"
"Quite. Seeing as I am still here, they obviously do not mind having me around."
"Your handfasting renewal was performed by the director of the reserve. Why did you not return to England to renew your vows," The man asked snidely.
"We had just found out I was pregnant again. We didn't want to chance traveling so soon after," Charlotte answered in confusion.
He nodded and continued, "Your midwife. Healer Jefferson?"
"CeCe." Charlotte supplied.
"Yes, her. She is American?"
"Yes," Charlotte questioned.
"You are aware that the American delegation to the International Confederation of Wizards issued an official proclamation damning the procreation law," the man snapped.
"No, I was not aware." Charlotte answered looking at Charlie in confusion.
"We do not heed much international politics on the reserve," Charlie explained. "It prevents issues in our working environment."
"So you would not be aware if, say, Healer Jefferson planted something in your prenatal potions to cause you to abort to further her country's own beliefs."
Charlie moved as fast as a dragon strike. He had the healer pinned to the wall by his throat and his arm cocked back to punch the man in the face. It was Bill, irritated for the entire length of the questioning, who pulled his brother away. Charlie was fighting both him and Percy when Charlotte stepped between him and the healer. She did not speak, just stepped up the Charlie and placed a hand on his cheek. He settled loosely in his brother's grasp and rolled his face against his wife's hand.
"We know the truth, Charlie," Charlotte placated him. "Our friends have no fault in this. He is pompous and arrogant and needs a reason. Finding no fault with his science, he moved on to us and our friends."
Arthur, silent until now, stood forward. His posture and presence left no doubt to any in the room why he was named Senior Undersecretary to the Ministry of Magic. "As of now, you are no longer a part of this investigation. Bring in another healer to complete the interviews and exams."
The man blanched. "Sir, please understand. I was only doing my job. Just because they are your family, does not mean they would not try to avoid the edict of the law."
"I agree you have done your job, but in the most cruel and heartless way imaginable." Arthur narrowed his eyes. "These are grieving parents, not hardened criminals. They, like the others you have tormented, only want answers to why their children are gone. Now get out of my sight."
The man left and sent another colleague to complete the test and questioning. She was very kind and understating even offering advice and suggestions to the couple about options for success in the future.
Her advice did not worked. Two more attempts, two more failures. CeCe and Thayer both went through their medical text, twice, trying to find an answer being overlooked. Thayer made the suggestion Charlotte's body was not being given enough time to recover.
She suggested a muggle method of timing, temperatures and abstinence to prevent pregnancy for a couple of months. Charlie latched on to this method and encouraged Charlotte they should try it. It was her who reminded the pair of the weekly obligations that needed to be met. Charlie was irritated until he returned home that evening.
He was like a man possessed routing through a box of paperwork on his bookshelf. With a shout of glee he produced a small scarlet booklet from the papers. He also grinned reading a letter. "Look, it's my Ministry notification stating I am marrying some bird named Charlotte Renee Cooper. I wonder what she is like."
Charlotte looked at him with concern. She recognized the booklet as the official procreation law in its entirety. Charlie grinned, kissed her soundly, and plopped on the couch opening the booklet. He read it nonstop for four hours nodding his head at certain points and flipping back pages to confirm one thing or another. Finally, when he finished as they sat in bed reading their respective materials, Charlie grinned and tossed the book aside. He rolled towards his wife and pulled her towards him.
"So, Thayer and CeCe both believe we need to abstain from having intercourse for a week, this week in particular, to prevent you from becoming pregnant. Correct?" He grinned.
"Yes," Charlotte answered with a look of concern.
Charlie nodded. He took Charlotte's new healers training manual from her and set it upon the stand next to the bed. He looked at her again and grinned. "So, no intercourse."
"Expect we need to have sex…"
"No," Charlie reached up and pulled her towards his bare chest. "We have to have 'marital relations', my dear wife."
Charlotte looked at him exasperated. He kissed her again and began to work his lips down her throat and across her collarbones. She groaned. "Charlie, if this is supposed to keep us from having sex, I am not seeing how."
"Not sex, marital relations." Charlie said as he pulled off the nightgown she was wearing.
She grabbed his hair and brought his lips back to hers. "Is there a difference?"
"Yes," He said around her lips. She stopped kissing him. He grinned and pulled back looking at her mischievously. She continued to stare at him in exasperated irritation.
"I read the whole damn law, every word of it." Charlie laid her back on the bed and began to suckle her breast. "There is not one word in any section of the damn thing that says we have to have intercourse. Not one bloody word about penetrable sex."
Charlotte contemplated his meaning as well as she could as he drove her mad with desire. He began to work his way down her belly kissing and nipping along his way. She finally found enough composure to debate his logic. "But marital relations means…"
"Any or all acts performed between a bonded couple within the marital bed." Charlie kissed her pelvic bone before licking her from her opening to her clit making her shutter. "They had to be careful about what they demanded as part of the requirements, Charlotte. The law had to accommodate all the couples, including the same sex couples."
Charlotte willed her mind to work. Yearned her mind to follow what he discovered. She imagined for a moment how the same sex couples would comply and it hit her just as Charlie began to suckle at the bundle of nerves at her core. "There does not have to be penetration for the act of lovemaking."
Charlie chuckled against her core driving her over the edge into ecstasy bucking against his mouth. His arms encircling her legs and he attacked her core again with enthusiasm. He pulled away just before she was able to climax again and pulled her face to his allowing her a taste of what he had been enjoying.
"How about another new lesson, my wife. One to bring us both pleasure upon our marital bed." He chuckled.
Charlotte's heated kiss was enough to show her compliance for his tutelage. He lay Charlotte down upon the bed and turned himself around to attend to her core once more. After a few more licks and sucks, he had her worked into a frenzy. He rolled onto his back pulling Charlotte with him to straddle his face. She was confused for only a moment until she realized where or what she was looking at. She laughed with glee and ghosted her fingers along his perfect shaft. She teased the tip as he circled her clit. She ran her tongue around the base as his ever talented tongue lapped at her opening. She pursed her lips and sucked him down as he began to lap her juices and slip his tongue deep within his core. She was moaning around his shaft in no time, the extra vibration bringing him closer and closer to his completion. Two more sucks upon her clit and Charlotte was shattering above him bucking into his mouth once again. She doubled her attention to his cock and eased him back all the way into her mouth. He was too far gone and allowed himself to release deep within her throat. She swallowed every drop of his release and pulled her tight lips off of his oversensitive shaft when she was done.
He rolled them gently over before joining her again at the head of the bed. He smirked at her relaxed form and pacified smile. "Marital relations completed, I would say."
Charlotte grinned and pulled him to her again to share the taste of the other upon their lips.
It had worked for two months. Charlie had shown her a few other workarounds for the requirement. But Charlie was a Weasley and Weasley men were known for their potency. By month three, Charlotte was pregnant again. Obviously, Wesley sperm also had longevity.
Two more pregnancies. Two more heartbreaking results. They were becoming so accustomed to the results, neither one was shocked anymore. Charlotte even sent Charlie to work that morning, lying she could get along without him.
After the third miscarriage, Charlotte read the law. She found an out, at least for Charlie. She could not produce him a child. If he wanted, he could petition for a divorce. It was their second big fight. This time, when Katie came to the house to console a sobbing Charlotte, she was not mad a Charlie, but Charlotte for even mentioning the idea. Charlie loved her with his whole being. The only way out of their marriage was for one of them to be in a coffin, which would not be occurring for many, many years.
After the second miscarriage, Thayer petitioned for the couple to be allowed contraceptives. Maybe a break would do Charlotte some good and they could try in a year. With no discernable reason for the losses, the Ministry denied their request. The same with the third miscarriage. Now, Thayer was certain the Ministry would listen to reason. If not, she was going to petition the damn Wizengamot on their behalf herself.
Charlotte knew it was futile. So long as there was no long term physical effects, they would be required to continue.
Charlotte's mind continued to try to find a way out for them. Charlie had joked the night before Luna's wedding about enough children for a quidditch team. Now, they faced the cold harsh truth there would be no fiery all red headed Gryffindor team in Hogwarts future. Charlie would not leave her, no matter what it cost him.
Suddenly, Charlotte knew her answer. She thought about the specifics. Whatever she did could not lead to any of her friends. No potions, no spells, no questionable accidents. People would need to know it was Charlotte and Charlotte alone who made the decision. She thought long and hard until the answer came to her in the memory of her husband's strong chest. CeCe was in her office. Thayer was at the director's office for one thing or another. Nadine was at lunch.
Quietly, Charlotte slipped from her bed and dressed. She cautiously slipped from the building and out into the cool spring day. She breathed in the air around her and lifted her face to the sunshine and stealing her nerve, then she walked to the gates of the enclosure and her quarry. As she approached the gate, she placed a beautiful smile upon her face willing it to be enough.
She was in luck, Tony was at the gate.
"Hello, Tony. How is your day going?" Charlotte beamed at him.
"Wonderful, Mrs. Weasley. Do you want me to send for Charlie?" He asked smiling in return.
"Oh, he didn't tell you," She lied still smiling.
"Tell me what?" Tony asked in confusion.
"He was going to meet me at the nursery to play with the new Welsh hatchlings. He is hoping he will be assigned to them so we can take an extended vacation in England this summer again." She replied.
Tony smiled. "Oh. Wouldn't that be nice. Any plans for your long break?"
"Yes, if it works out, we will get married. It would give us time to prepare for the wedding." Charlotte held to the rational they had given Molly when they had been home last. During the next hatchling transfer, they would plan the wedding.
Tony shook his head. "Well, I'm sure in all the excitement he must have forgotten. He was running late this morning. You go on in, Mrs. Wesley. If I see Charlie, I'll let him know where you are at."
"Thank you, Tony. You don't know what this means to us," She said as she walked through the gate he opened.
"You have some fun. Mind the teeth and the claws. They may be small, but they still have a bite," Tony warned.
Charlotte smiled and nodded her head. "Yes. Yes they do."
As soon as she was out of Tony's sight, she bolted to the enclosures of the aggressive dragons. Her eyes darted looking for her target. Finally, she spotted the copper scales she sought. She did not open the gate. Her early years of being around horses taught her to maneuver gates without opening them. She was soon inside the gates and approaching the sharp fangs and teeth of Gladys.
Charlie drew a deep breath and walked in the door of the hospital. CeCe walked out of her office when she heard the door open. "Oh, Charlie. I'm glad you came by for lunch. For all her composure this morning, she's absolutely withdrawn all day."
Charlie grimaced. "I was worried about that. I went to see the director this morning. If I need to, I can stay for the afternoon and take her back to our place. It may be for the best."
CeCe nodded. "Let me just give her a once over. I hate to say it, but the two of you are old hats at this and know what to expect."
Charlie nodded sadly. They walked around the corner and stopped short. Charlotte was nowhere to be found.
The pair looked at each other. CeCe strode quickly to the small bathroom in the corner to confirm she was not there. Charlie looked around the bed for any clue.
CeCe returned shaking her head. Charlie looked at her concerned. "She got dressed. Her clothes are missing."
CeCe pulled her wand and cast a patronus. "Go, Find Olga and Nadine. Tell them Charlotte is missing."
Another swipe and another patronus. "Go, tell the director, Charlotte Weasley left the hospital and we do not know where she is. Charlie is with me. We need to send out the search orders."
"I need to go to our cabin, she may have went home." Charlie began to walk to the door.
"No, you need to stay here, Charlie. Once she is found, you will need to help comfort her. The director will send someone to your home to check." CeCe explained.
Charlie began to pace. Where would she go? He pulled his wand. Calming himself, he cast his ram and sent it to Katie. She was within the enclosure, but maybe Charlotte had asked Tony to send for her.
Nadine and Thayer crashed through the doors. "Any word?"
"None. I have requested the search already." CeCe said watching all of the windows for an incoming patronus.
Thayer nodded and began to tap her foot. She nodded her head and drew her wand. Just as he was going to cast a patronus of her own a basset hound with Philips voice ran through the doors. "Charlie, come to the enclosure immediately! It's Charlotte!"
Charlie was gone before the hound could fully disappear.
Tony had the gates open when they arrived. "Gladys' enclosure!"
Charlie stopped and stared at the man. Before anything else could be said, he began to run faster to the appropriate area. He was met with chaos. Men worked clearing the adjacent pens of their dragons to give them full access to the area around the Peruvian. He heard the dragon's roars and snarls from behind the men running back and forth. Squad leaders were shouting orders and collecting their men to enter the enclosure as soon as they could guarantee the safety of their people. Charlie worked his way to the front of the gates to the pen.
Peptrofski stood in front his entire focus on the interior of the pen. Charlie's heart sank. He hoped with all of his heart he was incorrect, but knew he wasn't. Katie stood next to Peptrofski being restrained by Jake from entering the enclosure. There would be only one reason she fighting Jake so hard to go.
Charlie steeled himself and looked through the bars of the gate and his heart stopped. Charlotte stood in front of Gladys talking to the dragon as if she had no cares for what the beast would do to her. Charlie closed his eyes as he realized his wife truly didn't care what the dragon did to her. If fact, Charlotte was fully aware of what that particular dragon could do to her, which was why she was standing where she was talking to her.
Peptrofski did not remove his eyes from the scene in front of him. "Please tell me she is not doing what I think she is trying to do."
"I…I wish I could." Charlie choked out.
Peptrofski groaned. "What would drive her to this extreme? She is not known for dramatics."
Charlie shrugged. "I don't know, some misplaced logic on her part?"
"Logic," Peptrofski barked. "This is not logic."
"Somewhere in her mind this is the best solution." Charlie said still trying to find a way to get her out without causing her any harm.
"Why would she do this? Surly she could have mixed a poison with the supplies in the medication cabinet easier than entering the enclosure."
Charlie moaned. "CeCe."
Peptrofski actually took the time to look at Charlie. "What would Cecelia have to do with this?"
"When we went back to England for them to examine us after the second miscarriage, they questioned us if CeCe would have tried to kill the baby by doctoring the potions. If she were to die by any potions, she would be concerned they would go after CeCe. She would not allow that to happen. They accused me of beating her, so she could not hurt herself in any way that could be construed as violence able to be caused by another person. If she can get bitten by Gladys, no one can be at fault other than Charlotte who put herself in this position to begin with." Charlie continued to study the pair in front of him. Charlotte continued to speak to Gladys who continued to sway to keep her at bay.
"Why hasn't she attacked," Katie asked.
"I don't know," Charlie pondered.
"I do," Jake answered. "She can smell you on her, Charlie. You are the only one she respects. She is respecting your mate just like you respect her. I think she will continue to allow Charlotte's presence just like she grudgingly allows you to care of her. Until Charlotte pushes her to hard, or if we attack to stun her, she will just continue to warn Charlotte she is close enough."
Peptrofski looked at Jake and sighed. "He is correct. You and Gladys has a love hate relationship. It is like a bad divorced couple. They love to pick at one another, but would hate to see the other harmed."
"Divorce." Katie looked at Charlie in shock. "Oh, Charlie. You don't think…"
"That the only way we are no longer going to be married is if she is in a coffin," Charlie would not look at his friend. "Yah. This is exactly what this is, Katie."
Peptrofski dropped his head to the gate. "What do you want us to do, Charlie? This is your call. We will go in and try to get her if you think it will work."
Charlie shook his head. Jake was right. Any aggression would set Gladys off. "No, I needed to go in on my own. Maybe Gladys will let me close enough to Charlotte to bring her out of the enclosure."
Peptrofski nodded. "If things start to go bad, I will give the order. Thayer is preparing the anti-venom as we speak in case it is need."
Charlie nodded. The anti-venom would only work in a small bite. If Charlotte had her way, it wouldn't be a small bite. Charlie drew a deep breath and let it out. Peptrofski drew out his key and opened the gate. He nodded to Charlie as he walked inside and closed the door. Everybody held their breath and waited.
Gladys' eyes snapped up from watching Charlotte. She bared her teeth and snarled. Charlie nodded to his nemesis. "I'm coming to get her. I promise I'll take her away."
Gladys studied him for a moment then refocused on Charlotte. He walked cautiously step by step up to his wayward wife who was carrying on a one sided conversation with the dragon. As he approached, he could hear her.
"I don't know why you are waiting, Gladys. If you would hurry. I can see them getting ready to try to stun you. If you are quick about it, they will not stop us. My pain will be over. Charlie will be able to marry a woman who can give him a family and his pain will be over. They may even consider putting you down as well, and then your pain will be over too, Gladys. Charlie always said you were so cranky because you were so sad. We will not have to be sad anymore. Just do it. Be precise and be quick. Please.
Charlie's heart clenched. All she wanted seemed so simple, so easy. Except. "Charlotte, love. Walk back to me, please."
Charlotte turned to look at Charlie. He panicked, but did not show it. Dragons considered it weakness to turn one's back on them. Gladys growled, but did not strike. Charlie could not understand her behavior.
Charlie decided to take a chance. He extended his hand to his wife. "Come to me, Charlotte. Come to me and we will go and talk. We will work this out together. Remember, we need to grieve together."
Charlotte shook her head. "No, I am tired of the pain, Charlie. I am a disappointment. I am tainted. My cursed blood will not allow me to bare you a child. I am a failure, Charlie. You need a wife who can give you all that you desire."
Charlie never removed his eyes from Charlotte's. He watched Gladys out of his periphery. "I have all of the wife I desire in front of me Charlotte. You are all I need."
"No." Charlotte shook her head. "No, you need your quidditch team. You loved to teach the children to play quidditch. You need a wife that will give you that."
"I don't want a quidditch team with anybody else if I cannot have it with you." Charlie took a step closer. Gladys watched him, but did not advance. Charlotte was ten feet in front of him. If she just stayed still, he could get to her.
Tears began to ease down her face. "I cannot continue like this anymore."
"I know." A step closer. Charlotte's eyes were unfocused.
"My life is cursed. It has been forever."
"Let's break that curse together." Another step.
"People always died around me Charlie. My father, my mother, my babies."
"Your parents were not your fault. They made their own choices." Another step "Neither were our children. It …It just wasn't meant to be for us, my love."
"I am not good enough. I'm sure all my mother wanted was her baby back. I was not good enough. I was never good enough to erase her pain."
Charlie stepped in front of Charlotte. Gladys stared at them, but stay contently where she was. Something was off with her. Charlie was so focused on Charlotte he did not noticed until now. He looked the beast in the eyes and began to lower his gaze down her body looking for some clue. Finally, at her feet, he found his answer.
"Charlotte love, give me your hand. We need to leave Gladys alone."
"No, she will help me. She will help me end the pain."
"No!" Charlie admonished her grabbing her left hand in his right. "My hands are the ones that will hold you when you cannot stand on your own, my hands will comfort you when you are grieving, give you strength in you times of weakness, encouragement in your times of doubt. My hands will be productive to support our family, and strong when you need protecting. My hands, and only my hands, embrace you in passion and hold your hand while we walk through life, this life, Charlotte. This is the life I am choosing. It is not perfect. It is not easy, but it is the one given to me and I will not cast it or you aside for anything different than the one I have right now. Because I love you, Charlotte. Not some dream or fantasy. I love you."
Charlotte finally focused on his eyes. Tears streamed down her face. He cupped her cheek in his hand and pulled her to him slowly. Gladys watched them closely. Charlie locked eyes with the dragon again and began to back his way out to the enclosure, slowly. She let them progress, calming with each step away. Charlie barely breathed. He heard the gate to the enclosure open and a hand grasp his shoulder and they were guided out. The gate clanged shut.
Charlie collapsed on the ground, dragging Charlotte down with him as she continued to cry in his arms.
Charlie watched Charlotte try to adjust herself in her sleep. She couldn't move into the position she wanted. The restraints holding her to the bed made that impossible. He had not moved since he deposited her there over six hours ago. Around him, the voices argued on, but he did not care.
His face was going to be the first thing she saw when she finally woke from the drug induced sleep Thayer placed her in. When Charlie asked how long she would sleep, Thayer told him until she woke up. Her mind and body needed rest and she would be getting them. Until then, she would continue to sleep.
It had been unsettling to Charlie for the first five hours. She didn't move at all. If one was not watching close, they would not see her shallow breathing. She looked almost …dead. He shuttered trying not to remember what she just tried to do.
He vaguely caught an uptake in the volume of the discussion and glanced towards the area of the clinic entry. Phillip came around the corner. Charlie sighed, preparing for the inevitable.
Phillip stopped at the end of Charlotte's bed. He fidgeted and shifted for a moment before he sighed. "I'm sorry, Charlie. The director…"
"Just do it." Charlie did not even look at the man.
Phillip nodded his head and reached into his jacket pocket and withdrew a silver circlet. He looked Charlotte over and turned to Charlie with a query in his voice. "Where do you think is best."
Charlie signed and looked his wife's still body over. "Ankle, I suppose."
Phillip nodded and slipped the circlet around her foot and up to her ankle. He removed his wand and placed a complicated spell upon the item. It shrank to a comfortable size.
Charlie shuttered. Phillip put a comforting hand on his shoulder. "It's temporary. Just until she is better, Charlie. Peptrofski thought long and hard about this before he did it."
"I would have, if it were me," Charlie refocused on his wife's eyes. "I would have done that or worse."
Phillip grimaced, "He couldn't bring himself to expel her. Mrs. Peptrofski was concerned at first he would. She convinced him it would make things harder in the long run for both of you. Ana understands her better than any of us. He trusted her judgement, the tracing band was a better option."
"Where?" Charlie asked.
"He is keeping her fairly contained for now. Your cabin, Katie and Jake's. The hospital, of course. If she has to go into the village, she will need to be accompanied."
Charlie nodded. Phillip stared at the man with pity. "Temporary. The two of you will work through this and she will be released. Peptrofski is sure of it also. He said she will be up and working in no time…"
"He's going to allow her to continue working?" Charlie cut him off.
"He expects her back to work within the week. He and Ana argued about that. He won. Told her she would have done better if she would have spent more time around people. He thinks it will be best for Charlotte in the long run."
"Will anybody trust her," Charlie wondered.
Phillip squatted down to look Charlie in the face. "Charlie, you have been so focused on Charlotte, and believe me I completely understand why, but you did not hear the men, Charlie. After you went in after her, they were terrified they were going to lose her. The men, they all respect her. All of them, Charlie, every one of them adore her. She is kind and gentle. They were all afraid Peptrofski would expel her. I had a line out the office door waiting to see him. Not one of them wanted it to happen. Every one of them asked for a second chance for her. Most of them wanted to know how they could help her get better, Charlie. It may feel like it's the two of you against the world, but the whole damn reserve is behind her right now. Behind both of you."
Charlie looked shocked. Handlers were a fickle group. They hated recklessness. Charlotte had been as reckless as they came in that enclosure.
"Every one of them, Charlie," Phillip confirmed again.
He knew he may have regretted it, but he had to know. "Did he ever consider sending her away?"
Phillip smiled. "Not once. Not even when we were standing there watching you get her back and the men were in danger if they had to enter in there after her."
Charlie's shoulder slumped in relief. Phillip dropped his hand on his shoulder briefly. "I have to get back. Peptrofski is in an all-out battle currently. He is trying to convince the International Confederation of Wizards to allow the two of you to change your citizenship. That damn law only exists in England. He thinks if not Romania, then the America's or Italy with step in."
Charlie looked at him in disbelief. Phillip smirked, "I told you, the whole damn reserve is behind her. We will get you to the other side of this one way or another."
Charlie nodded dumbfounded. Phillip smiled again and walked back to the entryway.
Shortly after his departure, Thayer lost her battle against the people she was trying to keep at bay. Charlie steeled himself ready to face his opposition.
"I really must insist you remain quiet. I have her sleeping currently. Her state of mind is mostly due to sleep deprivation, I believe," Thayer argued following the Ministry contingent.
"She will get plenty of rest where we are taking her," Percy informed Thayer with a snap.
"She isn't going anywhere, Percy," Charlie stated, brushing Charlotte's curls off her face.
"Mr. Weasley, be reasonable. Your wife tried to kill herself this afternoon," Mrs. Horton interjected.
"Yah, I was there. Went into the enclosure and pulled her out myself," Charlie stated plainly.
Percy tried to speak again, but Charlotte scrunched up her nose and began to moan softly. Charlie moved from his chair to the bed and took her hand. "Wake up, my love."
CeCe sent a patronus to someone. Charlie didn't pay attention. He had eyes only for Charlotte's perfect face. Her eyes began to flutter and she began to pull at the restraints connecting her to the bed. In an effort to calm her, he took her hand in his and whispered for her to wake up.
Her eyes finally opened. Charlie smiled at her, happy to see her awake. He didn't turn away. He could see her beginning to comprehend her surrounding finally. Her mind blanked for a moment and she scrunched up her face trying to comprehend what was happening. She tried to raise her hand up to him and was stopped by the soft belts holding her arms down. Charlotte turned her head down to look at the cords, confused. Charlie didn't say a word, just continued to stroke her face. He could see the exact moment she remembered the prior events of the day. Her face fell and she began to cry.
Charlie wrapped his arms around her and held her as close as the restraints would allow. She sobbed harder and harder as more and more of her actions came back to her. All the while, Charlie held her and told her he would love her forever. Finally she cried herself out. Charlie sat back up and dried the last of the tears from her face.
"You foolish child! You have scared us all. Whatever were you thinking?" Peptrofski strong voice interrupted the melancholy of the situation.
Charlotte tried to turn away with a blush running up her cheeks. Peptrofski strode purposefully to her bed and tipped her face back towards him. "Tell me what you were thinking. Make me understand why a smart woman such as you would act so foolhardy. Did you think we would not come after you? Did you think we would not rescue you, child. Did you not think what it would have done to those around you? Those you left behind. Think of Tony. He asked to resign because of what you have done. He told me he did not see through your deceit and if he could not see through yours, how would he see though others. Is that what you wanted? Was that your goal?"
Charlotte began to cry again. She shook her head.
"I see, so you wished to hurt your friend Katie, who had to be physically restrained from going after you when you were found. She was willing to die to get you away from Gladys. Is that what you wanted, your friend to die?"
Charlotte cried harder.
"No then, let me think. I know, you wanted to punish your husband then. Charlie is a bad man? He treats you poorly. He doesn't love you? You wish for him to give up the career he loves because he could never look at another dragon ever again without thinking of the woman who held his heart dying at the teeth and fangs of one. Is that what you wanted? To punish Charlie. Answer me Charlotte!"
Charlie went to intervene. CeCe stopped him with a hand on his shoulder.
"Answer me child! Why have you done these things?!" Peptrofski ordered.
"I am sorry, I thought no one would be made to suffer other than me by doing it. I thought no one could question it was my decision and mine alone to die," Charlotte sobbed.
"Why," Peptrofski shook her, "Why would you want to die? Why would you want to leave those who care for you? Why would you leave us, child?"
"Ch...Ch…Charlie deserves a chance," She sobbed.
"A chance," Peptrofski shouted. "A chance to be miserable. You would deny him your life. Your existence. Your love. Why?"
"He deserves to have a child," Charlotte cried. She crashed into tears again sobbing uncontrollably.
"Aye, he deserves a child. He would be a good father, but you Charlotte, you are the one who made him a good man to be that father he deserves to be. Before you, he would not have been the man for the job. You make him that man. The one who wants to hold the babe in his arms. Without you, he would have no needs for this in his life."
Charlotte did not answer, just continued to cry.
Peptrofski sighed. "You have broken my trust this day, child. You have acted like a fledgling, young and foolish. A child must be watched at every turn. So, you will be treated as such. Children on the reserve are not left unattended and neither shall you be. You will always have someone with you at all times. You will not be allowed the free access you once enjoyed. Phillip has placed a tracking link on you. It will remain until I trust you again. You have hurt many of us this day, Charlotte. Not physically. No, but in a much deeper place. You have hurt us in our hearts, child. Those hurts take time to heal. You must face the consequences of your actions and you must rebuild that which you have broken, starting with your husband. Once you have healed all of those hurts, you will begin again to regain that which you have lost. Until then, know only that all we are doing what is in your best interest. I am not an unreasonable man, Charlotte. I know your pain. Maybe not to the extent that you have had to face, but I know it. I know the sickness of the heart it can cause. I also know when that sickness is healed, my heart will again see you for the strong woman I seen that first time you worked in this clinic. The one strong enough to stand up to me. Then, and only then, will I know you may be trusted once again."
Tears continued to cascade down Charlotte's face. Peptrofski reached over and wiped them away. Then, shocking everybody, he leaned over and kissed Charlotte on her brow. His action only caused her more emotional pain. He rose from his place at the bedside and walked out of the clinic, Phillip in his wake.
Thayer sighed and shook her head. "He's right, girl. You have some work to do fixing this foolishness. We will all be here every step of the way, but you have your work cut out for you. My mother always said an idle mind is a dangerous thing. Maybe she was right. You need time to heal, but sitting in the cabin is not going to do you a damn bit of good. You will be here every day with us unless Charlie is home. Peptrofski wasn't kidding when he said you will be watched. Until we know you will not try to hurt yourself again, Charlotte, you will be either at Charlie, CeCe or my side. No exceptions."
Charlotte began to cry harder still. Charlie knew it was deeply hurting her since she had been so independent due to her upbringing. He decided they needed to begin recovering from this mess, one way or another. "We will survive this, Charlotte. You are not so far gone, we cannot get you back. You and I, we managed to pull our lives back from the brink once already because we could not stand the thought of being apart. I cannot be parted from you Charlotte. I will not be parted from you. We will heal from this the same way we healed the first time. Together."
He gathered her into his arms as well as he could. CeCe having compassion for them, released Charlotte so she could wrap herself around Charlie. They stayed that way for some time.
It was Horton who eventually spoke. "What needs to be done for Charlotte to leave and return with us back to England?"
Charlie snapped his head in the official's direction. "Why would she be returning to England?"
Percy spoke softly to his brother. "Charlie, your wife needs help. They are preparing a place for her at St. Mungo's, in the Thickness Ward. She will be well cared for."
"No, what we need is to be left alone, so we can grieve for our lost child, or children as the case may be," Charlie said through gritted teeth.
"Mr. Weasley. Be reasonable. Romania is not equipped to take care of her in her current state. The healers on the ward have experience dealing with this situation. They will help her and get her better again. Isn't that what you want," Horton placated.
Before Charlie could answer, Thayer launched. "How experienced?"
Horton stiffened and tried to ignore her. Charlie looked at Thayer for a moment and rounded on Horton with his original thought. "And what of me?"
Horton smiled sadly. "They feel it is best to separate Charlotte from things that would cause her anxiety, just for a short while. You will be allowed to visit soon, usually a month. You will see, they will have her feeling better in no time."
Charlie's face hardened. "No, my wife is staying here. I am not leaving her for even a day, let alone a month. We were both mental before we managed to get through her last few months at Hogwarts. I promised her then, we would never be apart again. I intend on keeping that promise."
Horton's face turned cool and calculated. "I really had hoped to avoid this situation, but if I need to, I will go to the Wizengamot to have them sign orders for her to be declared a danger to herself and others. It would not take a lot of convincing after what I have heard and seen today."
Charlie became incensed. He rounded on Percy. "Would you really do this to us?"
"We have seen it work, Charlie. Give it a chance," Percy pleaded.
"How often," Thayer demanded again.
Charlie looked at her and finally comprehended. He turned to look at the pair of Ministry officials barely containing his anger. "Answer her question!"
"It really is not…" Horton began.
Percy, however, remembering his childhood growing up with Charlie and knowing his brother was close to the breaking point answered "Six."
"Six what," Thayer demanded.
"Six women. We have had to admit six women for everything from anxiety to battered women's syndrome," Percy stated, knowing the battle was lost.
Charlie roared and moved to attack his brother. Thayer acted quickly and froze him in placed. Charlotte rose from her bed and approached her husband. She wrapped her hand around his cheek. His eyes softened. After watching them for a moment, Thayer ended the spell. He pulled Charlotte close to him inhaling the scent of her hair.
Thayer, content Charlie was calmed again rounded on the Percy and Horton again. "Six women have been admitted to your hospital and still you do not call an end to this madness. Charlotte makes seven that have had issues with what has happened to them with no consideration from your government. All we have been asking is for them to be able to use some form of birth control to give Charlotte a chance to recover. Give her body time to heal. Instead she has endured miscarriage after miscarriage with no concern on your parts at all. Her body and mind are exhausted. One's mind can only take so much before it begins to come up with crazy solutions. That is what you seen today. Nothing more. Give them the waiver and you will see, it will not be long before she is well again."
"I am afraid we cannot do that," Horton explained. "We have a quota to fill. Until that time, there are few exceptions. We have already excused next year's Hogwarts students and given several people time to get married and begin having children. It is this group, the group we matched, that we are hoping can push us over that number. The only other group we are excusing are the couples who are affected by the taboo. Even them, we are encouraging to divorce and be reassigned to pureblood partners in order to fulfil our requirements."
"Are you all insane? Are you telling me that someone dying is not worth a waiver," CeCe asked indignantly.
Thayer's face hardened even more. "How many?"
"We told you six…" Percy began.
"No," Thayer barked. "How many will you consider acceptable?"
Horton and Percy looked shocked. Thayer clenched her fist and glared. "You forget, I work at a reserve. We have a number here as well. Where do you think your dragon goods come from?"
CeCe gasped. Charlie roared and began to advance on his brother. Thayer pointed her wand at him. "Don't do anything stupid. They will only hold it against you."
Charlie stopped, but his face did not relax. He was ready to kill. "How many?"
"I don't understand." Charlotte looked at the party in confusion.
"Collateral Damage," CeCe finally explained. "In the reserves case, it is the number of dragon's deaths that are acceptable before something needs to change. Creatures that die naturally, from age, sickness, injury, attack. That is not just a random number. It's not even set by the demand for products. It is determined by what losses can be overcome by new hatchlings. There is no way with this complicated of a law, some calculations were not done. They have a number of losses they were willing to take as part of their quota formulas. They have had to secede the student's, which was a significant blow. Add to that the purebloods having issues. The ones willing to divorce and remarry had to help, but not all are willing. So they are probably pushing their limits significantly. Which is why they are not allowing you a pass. You're still in the wings, though a potential loss. So if you died from the continual miscarriages, they have options to rematch Charlie. So again the question is, what is that collateral number you are willing to include your own sister-in-law in?"
Percy kept his eyes locked on Charlie. He swallowed a few times before he spoke. "Twenty five."
There was an audible gasp around the room. Charlie closed his eyes and breathed through his nose. "Did Bill know about this?"
"No," Horton answered.
"No," Percy answered. "We only found out after the two groups came to light. They wanted us to quit giving exceptions."
Charlie nodded. Then swung and punched his brother in the face.
Horton screamed as Percy toppled backwards sprawling onto the ground.
"That would count as something stupid, Charlie." Thayer said as she approached Percy and kneeled next to him. She held his chin firmly in her hand and began to work on fixing his broken nose.
Charlotte swayed next to him. He collected her into his arms and laid her back on her bed. CeCe gave a quick wave of her wand to check her over.
Horton took a moment to check on Percy before she rounded on Charlie. "Mr. Weasley, I will be going to the Ministry about your behavior. Your actions will not be tolerated. I suggest right now that you begin to cooperate starting with your wife returning to England this instant."
"She will be going nowhere with you," The Russian accent permeated the room. Everyone looked as Peptrofski entered.
Horton's eyes narrowed. "We will have them recalled if we must. Charlie works here on behalf of the English Ministry of Magic. It is easily done."
"Only if they are English citizens," Peptrofski told the woman harshly. Turning to Charlie he continued. "You have options. America, Italy, France, Bulgaria and Switzerland."
Charlie looked at Peptrofski in shock. "The Swiss? Truly?"
Peptrofski nodded his head. "They have always been neutral. In this too they have agreed neutrality. As such, it is a safe haven."
Charlie nodded and looked at Charlotte. "What do you think? Do you want to be a bloody American like Jake?"
Charlotte looked at him as if he were speaking mermish. Phillip intervened. "Peptrofski petitioned the board of the reserve for permission to allow you to change citizenship. After hearing your plight, all of them agreed except the English representative. So, America?"
Charlie looked back over his shoulder. She looked at the group in shock before she looked back to Charlie. "I don't know. Crete was very beautiful."
"So is Tuscany. I grew up there." Phillip smiled appreciatively. "I can see you both retiring to the countryside there. Very beautiful."
Percy was back on his feet. "You wouldn't. Think of what mum will say, Charlie."
Charlie sneered at his brother. "I will not be the one explaining. I'll just have her ask you. You can explain to our parents why I renounced my citizenship to the country I fought for and left without a second thought."
Percy blanched. Horton even looked concerned. The pair looked at one another for another moment before Horton turned back to Charlie. "I will give her a waiver."
Charlie smiled and nodded. "I thought so. They have no clue what your orders are and the last thing you need is for the Minister of Magic to find out. Kingsley never wanted this law, it was forced upon him. He was backed into a corner by the Wizengamot if I am guessing correctly. If this came to light, it would be all he would need to go back to have it overturned."
Horton stood before him defiantly. "The law is mostly good, Mr. Weasley. It has done some good for all of Wizarding Britain. Look at yourself. For all of the heartache you have endured, you would have never married if we did not force your hand."
Charlie nodded, conceding her point.
"You would have never realized you wanted children. You must understand, I have waived only Charlotte's requirements. You must still comply with having a child within the next ten years." Horton explained.
Charlie shook it off. "I guess I have a few years to figure it out."
"You would qualify for a divorce if you wish," Horton provided. "We could rematch you with another pureblood and you could try again."
Charlie stared blankly at the woman then turned to Charlotte's bed. "Marry me."
Behind him, Horton groaned. Charlotte looked up at him sadly. "Charlie, I think you should leave me. Go, find another wife. Have a family. I do not think my cursed blood will ever allow us this bit of happiness."
Charlie did not react to her pronouncement. "Marry me, Charlotte. We have put it off long enough. We know each other. We are in love. It's time. Marry me."
"What about the requirements," Charlotte interjected. "Will you give up your magic, your dragons for me?"
Charlie shrugged. "If we are married, I have ten years. Bill will figure this out by then. Every letter, he gets closer. Draco has grudgingly provided him with the Malfoy family archives to try to find an answer. If not, I will have a child with someone."
Charlotte looked crushed. "You would sleep with some random stranger to have a child."
"There are ways around that, Weasley." Thayer interjected. "We just got to get the sperm and the egg to meet up. More than one way to make that happen. You can even help him get his part done if you want."
Charlie blushed and looked at Charlotte again. "Marry me."
She began to cry. "You would be able to live your life knowing you had a child out there you were not raising."
"Nope. I would be involved." Charlie corrected her. "Hell, if it worked out, I would keep the child. You can't tell me there isn't someone out there stuck just like us. Maybe someone who doesn't want a child and is being forced just like me. If they are out there, Charlotte, we will find them and we will have a child. Just not the conventional way. Maybe, Bill can find an answer and we have a child. I am not ready to throw our love away for a future that is still uncertain. The rest, we will sort out as we go. Marry me."
Charlotte could only stare at him. His eyes, so much like that first night they were married, held no malice. Now, unlike before, they held love. Charlotte began to cry. She bowed her head and hoped she would never regret her next word. "Yes!"
Charlie jumped in the air whooping. After his celebration he turned to Peptrofski. "Will you marry us now?"
"No," Percy cut in, "No, Charlie. You will not do this. You will not marry her without the entire family present. Mum will go spare. You and Charlotte have both promised her a big wedding. She has it half planned, I'm sure. You will not deny her this happiness to see you wed. Both of you."
Charlie rounded on his brother. Percy stepped back afraid he was about to be punched again. This time it was CeCe who held his arm back. "I agree with your brother, now is not the time. Give Charlotte time to recover from this Charlie. Then you go and have a proper wedding, the wedding of her dreams. Both your dreams."
Charlie looked over his shoulder at his exhausted and sickly looking wife. He knew she would comply if he pushed the issue, but he wanted this to be perfect for her. For both of them. He nodded to CeCe. "Ok, we'll wait."