So, recently the council has decided to cut off our internet for the new 'NBN' but they conveniently forgot to install it. *Sigh* I suppose that's the council for you ... Also for those who haven't already realised, I have been updating my fanfiction to correlate with the massive bombshell in Hogwarts Mystery that was ... urgh, nope, I won't spoil it for those who haven't played it yet.
Just a warning, this chapter might contain a bit more adult-like themes than the previous chapters did. I'm not talking about overtly mature-aged themes but discretion is still implied.
I hope you enjoy! - S.G.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of these Fluff balls.
Warm Palms and Operation Dragon-Nest
"Hey kitty, did you miss us?"
Brina meowed, purring as she tottered out to greet us on the veranda of the white-bricked cottage before following us inside where she promptly made herself at home on the nearby couch.
"It's not too cold for you is it?" asked Charlie, magically lighting the fireplace with a casual flick of his wand. "Do you need blankets? An extra jumper?"
I shook my head, "You worry too much, Weasley."
Charlie chuckled, running a sheepish hand through his orange hair.
"Sorry … I just want everything to be perfect …"
I smiled, tugging him forward as he peeled off his jacket.
"It is perfect … you're perfect."
I could see the tips of his ears tinge red under the dim light as he rested his head against mine for a moment before being interrupted by Brina's insistent meows and he sighed.
"I'm telling you that cat has it in for me," he murmured mostly to himself as he kissed me lightly. "Make yourself at home. Dinner will be ready soon."
"Are you sure you don't need any help?" I asked as I heard a loud bang followed by a few swearwords coming from the kitchen.
"Nope, everything is absolutely under control," Charlie replied.
Brina meowed from where she sat near the fireplace.
"Don't say that," I hissed, "I'm sure he's not going to burn down the kitchen. Have a little faith in him …"
"Er … Charlie? Is the oven supposed to be smoking?"
"Huh? Ah crap, not again!" he swore, opening the oven with his bare hands only to retract it with another flurry of curses.
"You alright?" I frowned, hurrying over to examine the injury before I ran the tip of my wand over the burnt skin with a hasty healing charm. "Aprigga's sake, Charlie, I swear to Merlin that you'll have more burns than freckles if you keep this up …"
"It's fine," he replied, gently peeling his hands away before I could say another word. "I'm a big, strong dragon-tamer after all …"
I raised an eyebrow, noticing that the cauldron on the stove was starting to boil over. "Oh? Well does the 'big, strong dragon-tamer' need some help in the kitchen?"
"No, no, no, you're my guest!" said Charlie, "I promised that I'd cook for you and that's exactly what I plan on doing."
"Okay, Dragontamer," I smirked, going up on my tiptoes to kiss his cheek. "I'll leave you to it then."
"See? I told you I'd cook for you," Charlie said as he brought the still bubbling cauldron over to the dining room table.
"You did," I nodded as I sat down opposite him. "And what culinary masterpiece have you cooked up for me tonight?"
"Bean soup," he said, rubbing the back of his neck as the stew ladled itself into two separate bowls. "It's practically one of the only national dishes that I can actually cook right."
"Well, it looks amazing," I replied, squeezing his outstretched palm in mine with a reassuring smile before Brina let out another meow.
"What do you say, Brina? Want a try?"
For dessert, Charlie brought out two plates of what looked like cream and berry syrup covered pasties.
"It's called Papanași," supplied Charlie as he spooned the fried pastry into my mouth. "Think of it as Romania's traditional doughnut."
The crispiness of the dough crunched in my mouth with a tangy burst of wild berries and cream.
"Good, huh?" he smiled, catching a dribble of juice that escaped down my chin. "I can never make them quite the same as they do in the restaurants though …"
A little later ...
"What's wrong? Are you not feeling well?" Charlie frowned, shuffling over to feel my forehead with the outstretched palm of his hand before I had the chance to respond.
"Hmm … it doesn't feel like you have a fever," he continued, brown eyes flickering as he pursed his lips, "Is it a stomach ache? Oh Merlin, don't tell me that my cooking gave you food poisoning …"
"No, no, it's nothing like that," I said quickly, trying to pry his hand away from me only for his frown to deepen. "I'm fine – really."
"But … you keep doubling over …"
His eyebrows knitted together with concern as he looked me over before he noticed the bright coloured packaging jutting out of my toiletry bag.
Charlie cocked his head to the side, picking it up before I had the chance to stop him and my blood ran cold.
"Huh? What's this? Extra-long for night use?" he frowned, completely bewildered by my reaction before it eventually dawned on him. "You mean? Oh … r-right …" he coughed into his fist.
Silence hung between us as I buried my face into the nearest pillow, wishing for a quick, preferably painless death …
"You know, female dragons go through a similar … monthly cycle," Charlie murmured conversationally.
For Aprigga's sake, was he really talking about dragons now?
If I hadn't already been mortified I might have laughed but I only managed to make a slightly muffled whimper against the pillow.
"Anyway," continued Charlie, "What I meant to say is that I actually have some experience when it comes to these things … Just … wait a minute."
He got up and left the living room before he soon came back with a hot water bottle and a cup of hot tea.
"The hot water bottle and your tea are getting cold," Charlie murmured, "Let me make you a new one …"
"No, don't move," I said, holding his hands in place to stop him from getting up.
He frowned, "But I need to reheat the hot water bottle for you …"
"Forget about that. Your hands are warmer than a hot water bottle."
Charlie cocked an eyebrow, "Is that so?"
He chuckled, "Alright then, whatever Milady desires."
"You feeling better?" Charlie asked me after a while.
"Thanks to you," I nodded, smiling as he hugged me from behind.
He chuckled, shuffling over to plant a kiss on the side of my head.
"Well if anybody deserves the attention it's you," he murmured. "I mean, it is your day after all …"
"Oh, don't you start," I moaned, burying my face into his chest. "I can't believe you saw that."
Charlie laughed again, his voice brushing over my forehead as he wrapped me in his warm embrace.
"Speaking of which, I heard from a little birdy that chocolate helps …"
I blinked, looking up as he pulled out a bar of Honeydukes chocolate and I felt a small smile tug at the corner of my lips.
"It is your favourite …"
"Well, they say that this is the time of the month when a female dragon is even more terrifying than usual," he reasoned.
"Are you likening me to a dragon?" I pouted, "Merlin, and here I was thinking that you were being sweet …"
"It was a compliment!" Charlie remarked, smirking against the crook of my neck as he held me closer. "Honestly, do you want the chocolate or not?"
"Of course I do!"
The next morning ...
Light filtered through the frosted glass of the balcony window as I woke up, feeling completely at ease in the warmth of Charlie's embrace. In fact, now that I thought about it, this was the first time that I had actually spent the night in his bedroom. I pursed my lips, musing over this before my eyes fell on his face. He looked so peaceful, almost god-like as he slept and I giggled.
"What are you laughing about?" he crooned; opening one eye before he quickly caught my lips in a playful series of lazy kisses.
"Oh, nothing," I replied, pulling back if only to breathe as he raised an eyebrow.
"Didn't seem like nothing."
His brown eyes sparkled mischievously as he drew in closer.
"Get your head out of the gutter, Weasley," I retorted, shoving him by his shoulder as he chortled.
"I have no idea what you're on about, Cursebreaker," Charlie hummed, though his gleeful expression suggested otherwise.
I huffed, burying my face into his chest where I could feel the steady drum of his pulse beating against my cheek.
"How's your stomach?" he asked instead, strategically changing the subject as his arms looped their way around my waist. "Any more … uh … pain?"
He tried to make it sound as casual as possible like it was a normal question you'd ask somebody upon waking up.
I shook my head, snickering at his semi-tongue-tied expression.
"That's good," he smiled, seemingly more relieved as he let out a cute yawn. "There's still some leftover Papanași for breakfast if you're interested …"
I raised an eyebrow, "Doughnuts? For breakfast?"
"Well, I can't say no to doughnuts …"
"Mornin'," Marius sang, smirking when he saw the two of us come in. "I trust you two had a pleasant night?"
"Oh, shove off," countered Charlie, blushing as the other dragon-keeper let out a snort.
"Operation 'dragon nest' still a go then?" Marius continued with a rather smug look.
I raised an eyebrow, "Operation what?"
"Barb's put me in charge of setting up a new enclosure for one of the Romanian Longhorns," Charlie explained.
"So you're more than free to hang out with me while you're waiting," added Marius with a wink.
Charlie scowled, shooting him a death glare from over my shoulder and the man put his hands up in a show of surrender.
"I was joking, mate. Seriously!"
"You sure you don't need me to lend a hand?" I asked for the fifth time that morning as I watched him work.
"It's all good," Charlie replied, wiping his forehead as he flashed me a reassuring grin. "Besides, aren't women not supposed to lift heavy things when they're on …" he trailed off, cheeks flushing crimson as he averted his gaze and I laughed.
"For Merlin's sake, Charlie, I'm on my period, not pregnant," I drawled, folding my arms across my chest rather peevishly as he ran a sheepish hand through his orange hair.
"I just mean that I don't want you to strain yourself, that's all," he mumbled quickly, ears still tinged magenta as he rubbed the back of his neck.
I rolled my eyes, feeling a tiny smile tug at the corner of my lips despite myself as I shook my head.
Today, he was in charge of assembling the last of a new dragon enclosure that would be for a particularly temperamental Romanian Longhorn. It was backbreaking work, even with the assistance of magic, yet Charlie insisted on going through with the task on his own.
At some point between lifting large crates of boulders, the dragon tamer had removed his shirt, displaying his perfectly chiselled physique in all of its glory.
Small droplets of sweat glistened in the morning light as they rolled off his rippling abdominal muscles. I paused, my eyes running down along the curve of his broad shoulders and the scars that crisscrossed over his back and biceps.
It wasn't as if I hadn't since him shirtless before but every time I did I found myself momentarily forgetting how to breathe …
"Uh … earth to Cursebreaker?" Charlie sang, waving a hand over my face that immediately brought me back to reality.
"H-huh?" I blinked, heat rising up my neck as he raised a curious eyebrow.
"Were you checking me out?"
He shuffled forward, leaning in as if the answer were already written over my face. I froze, no doubt blushing an even brighter pink as I immediately averted my eyes.
"Oh my Merlin, you were! You totally were!" His grin widened even more, looking like a jubilant schoolboy who had finally beaten me in a game of Gobstones.
"I … oh, shut up."
After settling the Romanian Longhorn in its new habitat, Charlie suggested that we visit Norberta before leaving and found her lying in her enclosure on her back, groaning.
Charlie frowned, immediately vaulting over the fence with nimble grace before he made a beeline towards the dragon and I followed suit.
"What's wrong? Is she sick?" I asked as he examined her thoroughly, before letting out a sigh of semi-exasperation.
"Bellyache? Again?" Charlie shook his head, "How many times must I tell you that hedgehogs are not for eating?"
Norberta grumbled, blowing out a plume of smoke as the dragon-keeper bent down to rub her scaly stomach, all of his attention completely absorbed by the Norwegian Ridgeback.
"You reckon she'll be alright?" I asked.
"Yeah, she'll be fine. She does it all the time," he replied, "She eats it, regrets it, complains, then vomits it back up a few hours later."
There was such a fondness in his voice as he spoke that I couldn't help but smile.
"What?" Charlie cocked his head to the side, catching my expression from his peripheral vision.
"Oh, nothing," I hummed, "Just enjoying seeing a wild Charlie Weasley in his natural habitat."
"Oh, ha-ha, you're hilarious."
"I know, right?"
He rolled his eyes, a smile dimpling at the corner of his lips as he stood up and took a step towards me. I froze, my back pressed against the railing as he stepped closer, grasping the metal bannister from either side.
His eyes seemed to shine amber, his warm breath tickling over my forehead as he chuckled. He was so close now that I could hear the steady drum of his pulse echoing with my own before he leaned in and pressed his lips against mine.
I smiled, heart fluttering as I kissed him back. The sweet saltiness of his lips made me weak to my knees, sending my senses into overdrive.
He drew back, a bright smile blooming across his face as he cupped my cheek in the warm, calloused palm of his hand and I felt my face turn crimson under his smouldering gaze.
"Come with me somewhere," he murmured.
He didn't respond, only smiling enigmatically as he took me by the hand and led me out of the sanctuary.
"Is this really necessary?"
"Absolutely," Charlie replied, as he placed his hands over my eyes once we'd apparated, acting as a makeshift blindfold.
"You do realise that it's unnecessary when I can just read your mind …"
"Ah, but that, my dear, would spoil the surprise."
I didn't need to see him, to know that he was grinning from ear-to-ear, clearly enjoying this as he walked me down a sloping hill.
"And if I trip and fall?"
"Oh ye of little faith," he hummed, "The only time I would really let you fall would be for humorous, non-injury related purposes."
I tried to elbow him but he laughed, dodging me with ease whilst simultaneously keeping his hands over my eyes.
"Git," I huffed, "And here I was thinking that you liked me."
"I do like you," he quipped back smoothly, "I just think you being a klutz is funnier."
I rolled my eyes, smiling despite myself. Our position made walking slightly awkward but he kept his pace slow to match my own. Soon I could hear the faint gurgling of a nearby stream and couldn't help but try and pry his hands away if only for a second.
I pouted, "Oh, come on …"
I felt his chest rumble with barely contained laughter as he kept his hands stubbornly in place.
"Patience, Love," he crooned.
Merlin, I sighed – he really was enjoying this way too much.
Charlie rested his chin on my shoulder, pressing me against his chest as he eventually stopped walking.
"Okay, now you can open your eyes," he announced, lifting his hands away from my face and I opened my eyes to see that we were standing at the base of a clearing deep in the forest. A waterfall streamed into a ravine, filtering into a crystal clear pool of water that perfectly reflected the sky above.
"Wow, how did you find this place?"
"It's a secret," he replied, nodding proudly as he surveyed the scene.
I raised a curious eyebrow, "Seriously? Another secret? What's with all the mystery today?"
He smiled, patting a spot next to him on the large blanket that had magically appeared on the riverbank, along with a picnic basket and cushions.
"Did you do this all … for me?"
Charlie rubbed the back of his neck, the tips of his ears tinging pink as I sat down.
"Do … you like it?" he asked, coughing into his fist as I shuffled in closer.
I nodded. "How did you find the time to prepare all of this, though?"
"I may have had some help from some of the people back at the Dragon Sanctuary," Charlie admitted as began to pull out various foods: freshly baked pastries, cured meats and cheese – the basket seemed to be never-ending.
"Ah, of course." I replied, realising it now, "Operation 'dragon nest'."
I pursed my lips as I thought back to when we'd arrived at the sanctuary this morning. It seemed so obvious now. I had assumed that Marius was talking about the new dragon enclosure that Charlie was building, but clearly, he'd been in on Charlie's super-secret surprise date from the start.
"I hope you're not too mad," he murmured, "I just wanted to make …"
"It special?" I finished his sentence for him
He blushed, running a hand through his orange hair, "Well, that's what romance is supposed to be about innit? Grand gestures and all …"
I raised an eyebrow. "You think so?"
He paused, eyes widening. "Do you not like that?"
"No, I do," I replied quickly, folding my hands over his own to reassure him. "I love it. But I don't need any grand gestures, Charlie. For me, just being with you is enough to make these moments special."
Charlie blinked, staring at me in a dumbfounded silence before a brilliant smile blossomed across his face.
"You really think that?"
I nodded, leaning in to kiss his cheek. "Absolutely."
Aww, wasn't that sweet? I've been dying from internet deprivation but writing fluff always helps.
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