Chapter 6 : a stormy time
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My fear of storms might be irrational, but it was completely paralysing, and I was not going to move unless I died from fright, or the storm ended. And at the moment, the first looked a distinct possibility. I was under my duvet, in a storm-proof nest of pillows and discarded clothes from earlier. I hadn’t even managed to kick my shoes off before scooting under the covers. Another rumble came from the sky, sounding like a gigantic three-headed dog was growling up there.
I pressed my lips together so I wouldn’t make a sound. Unfortunately, none of the mantra’s usually repeated to help people with phobia’s applied with me. ‘It’s more scared of you than you are of it’... that’s highly unlikely.
The rain poured down, the sound amplified by the flat roof metres above my head. It sounded like a cacophony of drums beating down. I remembered my phone, lying somewhere on the bed. I could call Jess... she would come and save me. I gathered up all my courage and sat upright, grabbing my phone from by my feet and disappearing again under the covers with it.
The screen was too bright in the semi-darkness, and I had to squint at the display, only to see- ‘no network coverage’.
I breathed in deeply, and out again through my nose, knuckling my forehead hard, trying to squash my panic. I poked my head out again. The internal telephone was just across the room, sitting innocently on a small, spindly table. If I quickly slithered out of bed and leaped across the room, the wire could probably stretch as far as the bed, right?
My teeth were chattering in fear as the pounding of rain got louder, and I geared myself up for my escapade, trying and failing to block out the grumbles in the sky.
It was at that moment the power winked once- and then went out. I screamed, and my shrill shout was immediately met with a ferocious clap of thunder. I dived under the duvet again, biting on my fist, and shaking.
Above the sound of rain I could just discern a banging on my door.
“Melanie?” someone called. “MELANIE!”
“Melanie!” they yelled again, banging on the door. “Open up!”
Knowing that someone was behind the door gave me the courage to get up, clutching the key. My hand shook as I tried to get it in the lock, and then finally, with a small click, it swung open. I looked up to see Charlie Weasley, his freckled face crunched up in worry.
I must have looked a right state, my dress crumpled, my make-up running from my tears- I was truly a pathetic mess. But I ran straight into his chest as another roll of thunder crashed overhead. The need for someone else to be with me was too strong, and I pressed my wet face against his shirt as his warm arms circled me.
“You’ve made a storm-nest?” he said, looking over my shoulder at the bed.
I half-heartedly smacked my hand against his arm. “It’s a good nest. I’m not dead yet.”
“Merlin’s beard, the storm is really loud up here!” he said. “How scared are you?”
“Too scared to go and try and find some company,” I said, my voice muffled, but I was still unable to keep the quaver from it.
“You alright now?” he asked.
I hugged him tighter. “You are not leaving.”
“Can I sit down then?” he said, gingerly easing himself out of my arms. I held on tighter. “You’re very clingy.”
“I hadn’t noticed,” I quipped, but I let him sit down on the bed. I quickly slipped off my high heels and smoothed down my dress before jumping up next to him.
“Oh, does Mellie get sarcastic when she’s upset?” Charlie said, adjusting the duvet and pillows.
I scowled. “I’m not upset. I’m terrified. There is a difference.”
“Mellie does get sarcastic when she’s upset,” Charlie said, giving me a sneaky sideways look. I stuck out my tongue, and there was another low rumble.
“Why did you use my full name?” I asked, inching ever closer to him.
Charlie shrugged. “It felt like a full name kind of emergency,” he said.
“You got here pretty quick,” I said, relatively calm now I was distracted from the storm. “And you’re not wet.”
“Yeah... I, er, I...”
“Got a taxi?” I prompted.
He clicked his fingers. “I got a taxi. That’s it,” he said hurriedly. “It took my ages to get away from Violet though, and then I ran into Jess, who was hysterical. She thought you would be clawing down the curtains in terror, or something equally destructive.”
“No, it’s Jess that attacks things in emotional situations. I make nests.”
Charlie awkwardly contorted his hand in order to pat me on the head. “And it’s a very good nest. You should be proud.”
“You’ve just sat in it and moved it all and ruined it all,” I said with mock-annoyance.
Charlie moved as if to leave. “I can go if you want,” he said, but I grabbed his hands.
“You are not leaving!” I said; my voice was pretty high-pitched.
“Don’t worry,” Charlie said in a soothing voice. I wasn’t sure if he was trying to be funny or genuine. “I’m not going to go anywhere.”
We were both silent for a while until I remembered something.
“You said you couldn’t get away from Violet?” I asked.
He shuffled awkwardly next to me. “Er, yeah.”
“What happened?” I asked, trying and failing to sound nonchalant.
“Well, may I just say that she has a problem with you?” Charlie said.
“You can more than say, you can explain,” I said, and poked him with my shoe heel. He groaned.
“Come on Charlie, it’ll take my mind off the storm and how completely and utterly terrified I am and making nests and stuff,” I garbled. I may have been overstating slightly.
“You’re annoying,” he sighed.
I stuck my tongue out again. “And yet you still chose to be in a confined space with me for the foreseeable future,” I said triumphantly.
“For the foreseeable future?” Charlie repeated. “Merlin’s beard, how long is this storm going to last?!”
“You’d best start talking then,” I said. “Keep both of us entertained.”
He sighed in defeat. “There’s not that much to tell,” he said. He caught my stern look, and hurriedly carried on. “Well, Violet turned up, and it was a bit of a surprise apparently-”
“Yeah, she goes to the tech parties about as much as I do,” I interjected.
Charlie raised his eyebrows. “Are you telling this story or am I?”
I held up my hands. “Sorry, carry on.”
He harrumphed. “So Violet turned up and half of the guys there were trying to get her drinks, and the other half were being held back by their girlfriends. I was avoiding her, and then I saw Nick and had a chat with him, and then I noticed the thunder and then Jess came ran in, practically in hysterics because of your irrational hatred of loud noises.”
I poked him. “I am not scared of loud noises, just storms,” I said, pretending to be mad. “Where were you if Nick managed to find you?”
Charlie looked shifty. “In the men’s toilets.”
“That is not avoiding Violet, that’s hiding from her!”
“What should I have done? She’s a dragon-lady, and I’m terrified of her!”
“Marty said you were a dragon tamer,” I told him, staring up at the ceiling. Charlie started slightly next to me.
“Did he? Well, there’s dragons and dragons. Violet is scarier than my mother.”
I laughed. “You’re a wimp. Stand up to her! I did!”
“Yeah, and you nearly got sacked,” Charlie said.
My mouth dropped open. “You listened!”
“Of course I listened, I’d be an idiot not to,” he said. “I wanted to hear what you’d say!”
I went bright red, but I don’t think he could see my tomato-ness in the dark. He chuckled. “You are very brave,” he said.
“I was pretending to be brave,” I said, attempting to steer the conversation away from what I may or may not have said to Violet about Charlie. “Violet is pretty scary, I’ll give you that. I think it is because she has everything she wants, and her confidence is terrifying.”
“And her dragon-genes,” Charlie added.
“And her dragon-genes,” I agreed. “So what happened after Jess came into the men’s toilets?”
“I persuaded Jess that it would be fine if I came to look after you, and that she could stay with Nick. I took one step out the toilets and was immediately accosted by Violet, who wanted to know where you were.”
This was more tense than that thriller Jess and I watched the other night. “What did you say?”
“I said that you were waiting for me, and that I was sorry, I had to go, and then I walked away. And then she followed me, asking questions about you and me and basically trying to stop me from going anywhere.” Charlie took a breath. “I thought I’d never get away.”
He laid a hand dramatically over his forehead. “It was awful. But then a knight in shining armour came to save me.”
I looked at him quizzically.
“King Arthur,” he clarified. “Nick came and talked to Violet long enough for me to dash outside and... call a taxi.”
“And then you hotfooted it over here to save me. That story could have been told much quicker, you know.”
“You said to entertain you! I was trying to be as dramatic as possible,” Charlie whined. He huffed. “Next time I won’t bother saving you.”
I stared up at the ceiling as Charlie fell silent, and watched the headlights of cars race across the ceiling as they passed by on the road below.
“Charlie?” I asked, twisting my fingers together as another rumble of thunder came, but they were getting fainter as the storm moved further away.
“Mmm?” he mumbled sleepily.
“You know the other day, when you had to stay over at mine because you were drunk?” I paused, but Charlie stayed silent, so I carried on. “You know what you said, about Violet being pretty and funny and generally awesome?”
Charlie remained uncommunicative, so I pressed on. “Well, I was just wondering, you know...” I steeled myself. “What changed?”
I waited for his reply, my hands crunched into fists. What would he say? God, this felt like an eternity.
“Charlie?” I asked again, tentatively.
There was still no reply.
“Charlie?” I said, and poked him. He grunted, and rolled onto his side, eyes shut. He was asleep.
When the first rays of sunshine crept in through the crack in my curtains, I gingerly sat up and swung my legs over the side of the bed, being careful not to wake up Charlie. I hadn’t slept very well. In fact, I hadn’t slept at all. It was partly due to the occasional rumbles of thunder from the west, where the storm had moved on to, but it was mainly due to Charlie.
Charlie Weasley snored like a pig with blocked sinuses. It was disgusting, and you could hear it even through a pillow.
I tugged the curtains back slightly, illuminating the room a bit more, but being careful not to wake up Charlie. He scrunched up his nose at the light, but otherwise didn’t stir. He looked very peaceful.
I grabbed some dirty clothes from the day before off the floor, and quietly shuffled into the bathroom to change, and, for the first time in my life, clean my teeth before I ate anything. I did not want to be accosted suddenly by morning breath.
I ran down four flights of stairs to the dining room to get some breakfast, and was completely out of breath by the time I got back. Charlie was just waking up, looking thoroughly bemused.
“Toast?” I offered, panting slightly.
“Why do you look like you’ve just run a marathon?” he asked groggily.
I nicked a piece of toast off the stack I’d put in front of him. “The lifts aren’t working after the power cut last night,” I explained. “You must have had to use the stairs to get up here last night, yeah?”
Charlie nodded slowly. “Yeah... wait, why are you up so early?”
I scowled. “I’ve got to go work,” I grumbled, rummaging around to find my bag and some acceptable shoes.
“Since when did what you do become classed as work?” Charlie asked, propping himself up on his elbows. “What are you off to do, anyway? Canoeing? Horse-riding?"
“Since when did 5th century knights go canoeing?” I scoffed. The truth was I was going horse-riding, and he’d just take the mickey if he knew. I shouldered my bag. “I’ll see you later then!”
“See you,” he said, as I went to leave. I got to the door before turning back.
“Thanks for last night,” I said quietly, before ducking down and lightly kissing him on the cheek. I ran out the room before I could see his reaction.
Yeah, I was definitely acting like a stupid teenager.
I had arrived on time for make-up and costume, and then only been half an hour late at the stables. We’d had to wait another forty minutes until Russell had turned up. But Russell (Lancelot) and I were currently galloping along a ridge, being filmed by a helicopter, which followed us like a large angry fly. Russell did his own stunts, and if Violet did then I could have spent the day with Charlie, I thought spitefully.
Thankfully, it was a lovely day to be outside. The sky was a clear, pale blue, like a painted watercolour with faint wispy white clouds very high up. The scenery around me was fantastic as well, rolling lush green hills with colourful flowers which danced in the light breeze. The rain had made the countryside explode into vibrancy, and it was beautiful.
I had seen the horse for Nick the other day; it was a giant black creature which would inspire the fear of God in any attacking knights, but Russell had a lean bay. He rode slightly behind me as his horse tossed her head. Anytime we stopped, she pawed at the ground and chomped on her bit- she was as full of energy as Russell himself. On the other hand, I was riding a more docile grey, who was faster than the bay, but slightly more unsteady on his feet on the rough ground.
I was also wearing period costume, which I was usually never particularly pleased about- but today, I was pretty happy. I was riding side-saddle, wearing a beautiful deep indigo dress and my hair was all braided and I felt like a princess.
It was magical.
“I hope to God it doesn’t rain again!” Russell shouted as he rode next to me, his voice being ripped away by the wind.
I nodded. “I think the storm cleared everything up though,” I called back.
“I heard about Charlie and Violet,” he yelled, riding with one hand, the other casually on the sword which banged against his hip.
“What did you hear?”
“Just that Charlie flat-out refused Violet because you were having a panic attack,” he shouted, smiling.
I giggled. “It wasn’t quite like that-”
“Did Charlie pick you over Violet?” Russell called, cutting me off.
I nodded again, a smile tugging at my lips, and Russell crowed with laughter. “How do you still have your job?” he asked.
I waggled my eyebrows. “My charm. It’s easy to win Violet over.”
Russell shook his head in disbelief. “If that’s true, then teach me your secrets, master! I’m supposed to be in love with her, and she’s becoming more annoying with every word that comes out of her mouth. Hey!” he said suddenly. “Can you ride with one hand?”
“Of course!” I said, wrapping the reins around my left wrist and waving my other hand in the air.
It was at that point that my grey stumbled on a rock, and I slipped off sideways. I take it back, side-saddles are ridiculous.
I think I must have hit my head, as the next thing I knew, I was staring at a lot of blue, with Russell’s head in my periphery, his face anxious.
“Mellie?” he said, on seeing my eyes open.
“Hello,” I said, groggily. I was lying in the long grass on the ridge, surrounded by flowers. Russell was knelt next to me, and I could see the horses cropping grass contentedly not too far away. It would have been idyllic if I didn’t have a banging headache. I put a hand to the back of my head, feeling gingerly. Yeah, there was a massive egg forming there. I tried to sit up.
“No, you shouldn’t get up!” he said.
“But the grass is really wet,” I complained. I could already feel the dew soaking through my dress.
“You shouldn’t get up,” Russell repeated. “You’ve done something to your arm.”
And then I became aware of my left shoulder being practically on fire.
“Crap, that hurts,” I said, sucking air in through my gritted teeth. “What the hell did I do?”
“It’s my fault,” Russell said, looking so apologetic I wanted to pet his cute curly hair. “If I hadn’t dared you to ride with one hand, then you wouldn’t have wrapped the reins around your hand.” He grimaced. “You kind of got dragged by your hand in the reins until I managed to stop your horse.”
That sounded unbelievably painful.
“The helicopter saw everything, and they’re going to land quite close and take you to the helipad at the set, and there will be an ambulance there to take you to hospital- we can’t get one up here, sorry,” he said, apologising again, like it was his fault we were up a massive hill which significantly lacked roads.
“Thanks,” I said. “Wait, did they get it on camera?”
Russell just told me to lie down and shut up, although I really didn’t see how talking could make my shoulder hurt more.
Once we were in the helicopter, a cameraman who had been on a first aid course said it was a broken elbow -I told them it was my shoulder that hurt- and someone else who knew a paramedic said it was most probably a sprain –it hurt more than a bloody sprain- and even Russell chipped in with his two pennies worth of useless medical advice. By the time we landed at the castle set, I was fiercely resisting the urge to hit them all in the face with my free, non-achy hand.
I stepped out of the helicopter gingerly- avoiding all attempt at help, my arm cradled to my chest. They all wanted to touch my shoulder in their efforts to get me safely out the aircraft. Unfortunately, I was greeted by an extremely large crowd of crew and assembled others -although I couldn’t see Jess anywhere-, who were probably hoping for something a lot more graphic. I was sure I was black and blue from my head to my toes, but there was no blood. But my hair looked a mess. And I might have still been wearing my dress. I must have looked like a fairytale princess who had gone through five rounds with a heavyweight boxer.
I stumbled across the helipad, Russell half-steering me towards where a taxi waited to take me to hospital. Apparently, my injuries were not serious enough to warrant an ambulance. I gave a very bad-tempered answer as to whether a taxi would be alright- and then my mood plummeted still further as I saw Violet gracefully glide through the crowd.
“Oh Melanie,” she gushed, faking sympathy perfectly. She laid a hand on my hurt shoulder- it was icy cold against my burning skin. I gasped involuntarily with pain, and she quickly removed her hand. “Oh, I’m so sorry, Melanie! Oh just imagine, it could have been me-”
“Let me have a look,” said a gruff voice, cutting Violet off, and Charlie stepped forwards, still wearing the same clothes from last night. He took one look at my shoulder and sighed. “That’s obviously dislocated, you idiots.”
He put his hand in the small of my back, guiding me towards the taxi. “I’ll take you to hospital,” he said, not giving me time to respond. He then turned to Russell. “Could you make sure Jess knows what has happened?”
Russell nodded. “Sure thing.”
Charlie opened the taxi door for me, ignoring Violet’s continued protestations of guilt and false kindnesses. I clambered in, keeping my arm clamped protectively to my chest. Charlie shut the door, and got in the other side, instructing the driver on going to the nearest hospital.
As soon as we had pulled off, Charlie turned to me. “How much pain are you in?” he asked, looking concerned.
I grimaced as the taxi went over a bump in the road, jarring my shoulder. That is one of the benefits of air-travel; you don’t get uneven streets.
“A fair amount,” I said, concentrating on the steady in-out of my breaths. It was a pain-coping technique that I had been taught on the set of another film, when I had broken my ankle by stepping in a rabbit-hole. Don’t laugh, it’s easily done. “It’s a lot worse than stubbing your toe against something.”
Charlie chewed his lip in thought. “I can take the pain away, if it’s really really bad,” he said, hesitantly.
“Oh god, please take the pain away,” I said all in a rush. “Please.”
Charlie nodded, and pushed up the partition separating us and the taxi driver. Then, he pulled out a stick, about a foot long.
I rolled my eyes. “Charlie, I really don’t think a splint is going to help here.”
“This isn’t a splint,” he said, and lightly tapped my hurt shoulder with it, muttering a foreign word under his breath. I could have sworn the stick’s tip sparked for a second, before the tiny flicker of light sunk into my poor shoulder, and then-
And then the pain left so suddenly I thought I had imagined it in the first place. My shoulder didn’t even feel swollen, although I could still see that it was entirely the wrong shape. I pointed at the stick with my free hand.
“What is that, and where can I get one?”
A/N: back again, I hope you're still enjoying Mellie and Charlie :) Also, I miiight have a new story up soon- Marauders era. Maybe you could check that out, when it's up? Thanks for reading, and I'd love for you to tell me what you think.
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