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Orange Marmalade by SnitchSnatcher

Format: Short story
Chapters: 4
Word Count: 6,324
Status: Abandoned

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Mild Language, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Drama, Fluff, Romance
Characters: Bill, Charlie, Molly, Percy, Teddy, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: Other Pairing

First Published: 04/17/2010
Last Chapter: 07/01/2010
Last Updated: 08/12/2010

Summary:
Spectacularly gorgeous banner by .Candy @ TDA






Maybe you could stay, just one more little day.


Love is like the tide, rising and falling, coming and going. The ebb and flow of their relationship was never consistent nor was it easy, but he wanted it. He wanted her, all of her, even if it meant giving all of himself.

A Charlie Weasley love story.


Chapter 1: (Late) May
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(LATE) MAY




chapter image by cérise


“Oh, oh! What about that one, dear?” his mother hissed excitedly in his ear. “She’s quite pretty!’

Barely retaining a sigh of exhaustion, Charlie leaned forwards in his seat and followed her line of sight. When he saw the woman in question, a willowy redhead who looked too much like his little sister, he shrugged. “Yeah, I suppose she is,” he agreed, averting his eyes away from the woman as soon as he could. He stared intently at his flute of champagne, mildly fascinated by the way it captured the light.

“Why don’t you ask her to dance then? She looks lonely.”

“Because I don’t want to dance, Mum,” Charlie said, sloshing the champagne around in the flute.

Molly Weasley sent her second eldest and now only bachelor son a pointed look. “But it’s your brother’s wedding!”

He returned her look with one of utmost impatience. “So that means I have to dance with her?” Charlie rolled his eyes and brought the flute to his lips, draining the remaining liquid in one fell swoop. Unlike the four shots of firewhiskey he had knocked back before his mother came tottering over to bother him, it didn’t burn as it went down. In fact, it felt quite pleasant in comparison.

“Well, no, it doesn’t mean you have to dance with her,” Mrs Weasley said, frowning at his burly attitude, “but I think Percy would be happy to see you out there dancing instead of brooding in the corner.”

“I am not brooding!” he objected sourly, folding his arms over his chest.

“Then ask her to dance!” his mother countered, nudging him with her elbow. “Oh, come on, Charlie, it’s only one dance. What harm could it do?”

Charlie could only raise an eyebrow at Mrs Weasley. “Please tell me you’re joking.”

“Why would I joke…”

“Bill’s wedding,” he interjected.

The blank look he received made him want to tear his hair out. Not that he had much to tear out in the first place; being a dragon trainer meant keeping short hair. Less flammable, see.

“What about it?”

“Don’t you remember what happened?”

Mrs Weasley blinked in confusion and shook her head. “Not particularly, dear, no.”

“I’ve got two words for you,” Charlie said, suddenly wishing he hadn’t emptied the flute, but he had, so he set it on the table before pinning his mother with a pointed stare. “Julie Hertz.”

It took a moment for the name to click with a face in Mrs Weasley’s head, but as soon as she captured the image, she gasped. “You mean that adorable girl with the blonde hair and lovely disposition?”

Twisting around in his seat, Charlie called for a waiter.

“What was so wrong about her?” Mrs Weasley demanded. “She was perfectly lovely. Really nice smile and a great family.”

“Yeah, and she was completely nutters,” Charlie snorted, growing impatient at the lack of service. He managed to catch the eye of a passing waitress, who rolled her eyes when he waved her over. Women.

“Charles Septimus Weasley!” Mrs Weasley exclaimed loudly, colour rising to her cheeks. The volume of her voice was so loud, several attendees sitting at nearby tables jumped in surprise and sent them furtive glances. Charlie was, of course, used to his mother’s abrupt outbursts and didn’t bother flushing in embarrassment. It did horrible things to his already freckled complexion anyway. “I did not raise you to talk about women that way. Julie Hertz was -”

“Bound for a mental institution the moment she told me she loved me,” Charlie finished, passing a hand over his short hair in irritation. “Mum, we shared two dances and a few drinks, and she was already thinking about marriage! Talking about it, even!”

“You were at a wedding, for Merlin’s sake,” Mrs Weasley began, her tone laced with disbelief at her son’s insensitivity. There was a reason why he was without a significant other and it had nothing to do with his dedication to his job, no matter what he said. “Of course she would be thinking about marriage.”

Squeezing his eyes shut, Charlie reminded himself that they were in a public place and though his mother didn’t seem to have a problem holding the conversation here and now, he did. His personal life was just that - personal. Besides, he hardly doubted that Percy would like for them to go at each other’s throats at his wedding reception. That could be saved for Christmas or some other family gathering.

“I think you’re missing the point, Mum,” Charlie ground out through clenched teeth. He turned in his seat to see where the waitress had gone, but she wasn’t anywhere within his line of sight. He grimaced; Merlin, he needed a drink.

“Pray tell, then, what is the point, dear?” Mrs Weasley prompted curiously, her eyes twinkling with amusement.

The combination of her smug amusement and the brass band playing a jazzy tune set him off. “I don’t want to be set up anymore!” he revealed in a rare blaze of anger. “I know you think this is all in good fun, but I’m sick and tired of the endless disappointment and the fact you just won’t give up, no matter what I say. Don’t you know when enough is enough, Mum?”

Mrs Weasley didn’t say anything for a very long time. She stared at her son, unsure if she knew the man in front of her anymore. Suddenly, he looked twice as old as usual, his soft grey eyes old and tired, his face rugged and beaten. She frowned. When had he grown up? When had the little boy disappeared and became this hardened man sitting in front of her?

She sighed. “You’re right, dear,” she said after some time, struggling to maintain a note of neutrality to her voice. Maintaining her emotions had never been one of her strong suits. “I shouldn’t keep bothering you about this sort of things. You’ve got to make your own decisions.” She reached across the table and patted his hand. “I just want you know that I’ve only ever had your best interests at heart.” Here, her voice cracked, causing an immense wave of guilt to come crashing down upon Charlie.

“Mum,” Charlie began awkwardly, for she had started to sniffle, the tell-tale sign of oncoming tears. “D-don’t get upset. There’s no need to cry.”

She lifted her head to look at him, her eyes leaking freely and bottom lip quivering like bad. “I just want you to be happy,” she said, producing a handkerchief out of thin air and dabbing her eyes.

“But I am happy -”

He couldn’t get another word in edgewise as his mother released a particularly loud sob. Despite his discomfort with the situation, Charlie scooted his chair closer to his mother’s and wrapped his arms around her. Immediately, she tightened her arms around him and cried, her words thankfully muffled by the fabric of his dress robes.

His rescue arrived in the form of the waitress, who flashed him a semi-sympathetic smile before wordlessly handing over a flute of champagne. He nodded his thanks and lifted the glass to his lips, watching as the waitress turned on her heel and went about her business. It took several drinks for his mother to stop crying and let go of him, and the second she did, he choked down a deep breath of air.

“I-I’m sorry I got so emotional, Charlie,” Mrs Weasley warbled as she blew her nose into her handkerchief. “It’s just that I can’t bear the thought of you growing old all alone!”

“I’m not going to grow old alone,” Charlie countered.

“You’re not?”

“No,” he said assertively.

At this, Mrs Weasley perked up considerably. “Does that mean you’ll dance with the redhead?”

Charlie rolled his eyes. He should’ve known this was a ploy. The woman couldn’t have given birth to two mischievous masterminds if she didn’t know how to spin the game herself. Sighing, he passed a hand over his face and shrugged. “I’ll consider it.”

Beaming, his mother wiped at her eyes and rose to her feet. “I think I’ll go check on your brother now. See how he’s doing. Don’t wait forever to ask her for a dance - sooner rather than later!”

Shaking his head to himself, Charlie watched as his mother tottered off into the crowd, no doubt searching for Ron to heckle him about his engagement to Hermione. The thought made him frown. Perhaps she was right - perhaps sooner was better than later. But when had he ever done something because his parents wanted him to? Sighing again, he lifted the glass of champagne to his lips, emptied its contents, and set it on the table, preparing to flag down another of the servers.

Just as he raised his hand, a cool flute of bubbly was pressed into the palm of his hand and when he looked up, he saw the waitress from before. “Thanks,” he said with a nod, tipping back a considerable amount of the liquid within. If he was going to go along and dance with the redhead, he didn’t want to remember it, especially if she turned out to be another Julie Hertz.

The waitress’ lips quirked into a lopsided smile. “All in a day’s work,” she replied, swatting at a wayward strand of dark hair that had escaped its bun. “Well,” she said, fidgeting awkwardly, “enjoy your champagne.”

As she turned to leave, a spark of curiosity ignited within Charlie, though he could not for the life of him explain why. “Wait!” he heard himself calling out.

She stopped and looked over her shoulder. “Did you want another?”

Charlie shook his head, absentmindedly tapping his finger against the neck of the flute. “No, I think I’ve had enough.” He glanced briefly at the collection of champagne glasses on the table and then back at her. “I was curious about something, though.”

The waitress furrowed her brow. “Do you want something stronger…?”

“What’s your name?” he blurted.

She tilted her head fractionally to the left, her dark eyes finding his as she studied him. It didn’t take long for the spark similar to the one he had experienced only moments ago to appear on her face. He had to admit, the expression looked much cuter when it was on her face. The lopsided grin returned to her lips as she answered, somewhat sheepishly, “Clementine. My name is Clementine.”




A/N:

Title from the song "Orange Marmalade" by Mellowdrone.

Well, there’s the first chapter! I hope you had as much fun reading it as I did writing it. I should warn you now that things may get fluffy at some points, but there will be a plot to this, I promise! Thank you for reading and, as always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to voice them in a review!



Chapter 2: (Mid) June
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(MID) JUNE



stunning image by cérise @ TDA



The wool of the blanket scratched at the back of her arm as she walked down the hill, her eyes roving the horizon for the sight of his burly frame and signature smile. He told her to meet him at the park and to bring a blanket; he would cover the rest. She assumed that he wanted to picnic in the park, but she couldn’t be certain. After all, they had only been out together two other times - she certainly didn’t claim to know him very well, but they were getting there.

Slowly, but surely.

The thought was enough to bring a smile to her face and an intense blush to her cheeks. It was a small miracle that there was no-one else around or else she would’ve been even more embarrassed and blushed further. Pushing a dark lock out of her eyes, Clementine scanned the surrounding area, hoping that she had come to the right area of the park. She was unfamiliar with it, but already she felt comfortable here. Just like she felt comfortable, at ease even, when she was with him.

With Charlie.

She knew so little about him, and yet she felt as though she had known him for years. It was silly and assuming, she knew that. Perhaps it was even a bit obsessive, but there was something there. That couldn’t be denied. At least, she didn’t think it was. She wasn’t sure what Charlie felt, given that while he could carry a conversation better than most people can carry themselves, he hadn’t clued her in on how he felt about her. (If he felt anything towards her, that is.) He hadn’t dropped any hints. He hadn’t even attempted to kiss her, for Merlin’s sake!

Clementine shook her head. No, she was being ridiculous. This was only their third date; there was no way she could say that she had any substantial feelings for Charlie. Sure, he was attractive, had a wicked sense of humour, and could make her heart sputter pathetically with the smallest flash of his pearly whites, but that didn’t mean she truly fancied him. Not yet anyway.

It was only as this thought pattern passed through her mind that she caught sight of him. He was standing on the edge of the lake (or was it a pond?), his hands deep in his pockets and even from here, she could see the crease in his brow. Was she late or was he just impatient?

Increasing the length of her stride, she cupped one hand around her mouth and called out to him. His head whipped in her direction and she grinned, waving at him. Either he had mistaken the gesture as a signal for help or he was just a gentleman, he met her halfway down the path, greeting her with a brilliant smile.

“Hi,” Charlie said simply, his eyes crinkling at the corners from the force of his smile.

Heat rushed to her cheeks in a brilliant wave of scarlet. “Hey,” she returned, trying her best to keep her voice from hitching. She wasn’t fifteen anymore; she didn’t get school girl crushes.

“All right?”

She shrugged. “Can’t complain.”

“Good.” He grinned again, and her heart thumped loudly in her chest. “Need any help?” He gestured towards the blanket bundle under her arm.

“Nope,” she dispelled with a shake of her head, the motion causing several strands of hair to escape the bun she’d hastily thrown it into. “I’ve got it.”

“You sure?”

Clementine rolled her eyes good-naturedly. “It’s not a baby elephant, Charlie,” she teased as she started forwards.

Charlie caught up with her easily, his strides being considerably longer than hers. “I know, but it’s the thought that counts, right?”

And then he did something that took her by surprise. He captured her hand within his own and threaded his fingers, which were rough, but not unpleasantly so, through hers. She felt her eyebrows raise, but when she looked up at him, she saw that he was smiling, so she smiled too.

*


They sat facing one another, their legs folded and one hand clasped tightly - Charlie’s right and her left. As they counted out the game, Clementine met Charlie’s eyes. “I’m going to win.”

“Really?” he asked, moving his thumb in time with hers, the sides touching like the blades of swords. “What makes you so sure?”

“You wouldn’t harm a fly, much less me,” Clementine responded as they touched thumbs for the tenth and final time.

Charlie was silent for a prolonged moment, too absorbed in the anticipation of an attack to formulate an adequate reply. However, when he saw that she wasn’t intending to strike first, he averted his gaze to her face and lifted a brow. “I herd, raise, and train dragons, love.”

She laughed, a gentle tinkling sound. “Am I supposed to be impressed by that?”

“Or intimidated. Either one works just fine.”

“What about neither?”

Charlie pinned her with a faux serious look. “And what was it that you said you did for a living again?” His tone was joking and light - lighter than it had been in years, to be certain.

She stuck out her tongue at him.

“Oh, very mature, Clem,” Charlie commented.

“I thought so, too,” she rebuked, wiggling her thumb experimentally to see if he was properly distracted, but he wasn’t. His tightened his grip on her hand, but not to the point where it was painful. In fact, it was pleasant, like it had been when they held hands as they walked to their current spot.

“Now you’re trying to outsmart me, are you?”

Clementine shrugged. “It’s not that difficult.”

“Oh, ouch,” he winced appreciatively, his eyes following the slow circle her thumb made, waiting for the eminent strike. “You aim low, don’t you?”

“I do what I have to.”

“I’ll have to keep that in mind for next time.”

Slightly startled, Clem looked up from their game of thumb wrestling, one eyebrow raised, her eyes a little wide. “Next time?” she asked, trying not to sound too hopeful.

“Yeah, as in the next time we go out,” Charlie said, the left side of his mouth sweeping into a grin as he took advantage of her distraction and pinned her thumb down. The grin turned smug, but no less amused as he met her eyes, blue on brown. “I win.”

“Only because you cheated!”

“Eh,” he said with a nonchalant shrug, “I do what I have to.”

“I should get a consolation prize, you know,” Clementine declared, shaking her head to clear the loose strands of hair from her eyes.


At this, Charlie snorted. “For what? It’s not like you won or anything,” he teased, another impish smile working its way onto his face. If he kept it up, his lips would fall right off his face, and he would never get to know if he’d taste oranges when he kissed Clementine.

She kicked him lightly in the shin. “Well, I had to put up with you, didn’t I?”

“Touché,” Charlie laughed, taking her hand within both of his and running his fingertips over her knuckles. He tried not to smile too widely, too knowingly, when he felt her tremble. “So,” he continued, subtly moving closer to her as he caressed her hand, “what did you have in mind?”

It took Clementine a moment to respond, for she was still recovering from the sensation of his touch. It was odd, the stark contrast between the actual texture of his hands and the feelings they elicited. But there was beauty in the oddity, just like there was beauty in him, the mid-thirties-something man seated across from her on an old, scratchy blanket that smelled of elderberries and dust.

“I can think of a few things,” she whispered suggestively, following his lead and closing the gap between them.

Like the opposite poles of magnets unable to deny their attraction, their lips met halfway, hers North and his South. Or hers were South and his were North. As his hand slid up her arm, crossed over her shoulder, climbed up her neck, and curved around her cheek, it didn’t matter. The world was melting, and they were stuck in the middle of it all.



A/N: Like it? Love it? Hate it? Let me know!

Chapter 3: (Early) July
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A/N: This chapter was inspired by Llyralen’s short story “5 Rebeccas”, which is also a Charlie-centric fic!



(EARLY) JULY


lovely image by cérise @ TDA!





“Right, here it is,” Charlie said gravely, pinning her with a deeply serious look. “The moment of truth. You nervous?”

Clementine chewed her lip. “Depends.”

“On?”

“What will happen if I say the wrong thing,” Clementine answered.

Charlie snaked his arm round her waist and pulled her to him, his hands slipping down the swell of her butt. “Then you’ll get what any naughty girl deserves.” At her raised eyebrow, he lowered his lips to her ear and whispered, “A proper spanking.”

“Charlie!” she half-shrieked, half-laughed, her cheeks glowing bright red despite the fact no-one could have heard over the dine of noise. The market was crowded, their space to walk limited; their shoulders kept knocking together as they walked.

Grinning hugely, Charlie pressed a kiss against her temple and they continued their way through the throng of people, his hand resting on the subtle curve of her hip. “So, are you brave enough to answer?”

She studied his expression for a moment before sighing. “Ask away.”

He didn’t hesitate. “Favourite band of the ‘80s.”

“Muggle or not?”

He shrugged. “Doesn’t matter to me.” She opened her mouth to answer, but he cut her off before she could get a word in edgewise. “And please, for the sake of my sanity, do not say U2. I don’t care how good Bono’s arse looked in leather pants, just don’t say it.”

Clementine tossed her head back and laughed. “I didn’t know you were so opposed to U2.”

“Yeah, well, I didn’t used to be,” grumbled Charlie, making Clementine furrow her brow in question, but she didn’t ask. For some reason, it seemed to be a forbidden topic, which meant it probably had something to do with an ex. It didn’t take her very long to learn he did not like talking about his previous relationships, mainly because most of them had ended poorly.

“You’re going to hate me, but…”

Charlie groaned, slapping a melodramatic palm to his forehead. “It’s U2, isn’t it?”

Again, Clementine laughed. “No, it’s not U2, though I don’t see why you’re so opposed to them; they had some fantastic albums in the ‘80s: War, Unforgettable Fire, and the like.” She shook her head to herself, sliding her hand up and down his arm. “No, I was just going to say that it’s a tie.”

The sombre lines around his mouth disappeared and his eyes became light once more as e looked down at her with sudden interest. Well, more interest than he usually did, which was a considerable amount. “Between?”

“The Velvet Underground and -”

“Not the Cure!”

Clementine smacked him on the arm, scowling up at him. “Would you let me finish?”

He sent her a sheepish smile, which she couldn’t deny even if she wanted to. “Sorry.”

“As I was saying,” she began with a very pointed look in his direction. “It’s a tie between the Velvet Underground and R.E.M.”

“R.E.M.?” Charlie repeated incredulously. “How the -”

“What’s wrong with them? Their earlier stuff was brilliant!”

“Nothing’s wrong with them, Clem, but you can’t say a fantastic band like the Velvet Underground - Lou Reed is one of my personal heroes - and follow it up with R.E.M. It’s just…well, it’s not right!”

Clementine rolled her eyes and folded her arms over her chest. “This is exactly why I didn’t want to start this,” she said lowly, wishing she could feel angrier than she was and actually put distance between them. Of course, it didn’t help they were in an impossibly small marketplace where it seemed the entire populace was gathered. Even if they weren’t, she doubted she could get truly angry with him over something like this. Unless he took it too far, of course, which he was inclined to do from time to time.

“Start what?” Charlie demanded, puckering his brow as he looked down at her. “I didn’t start anything! I was just making a comment.”

“That’s exactly the problem,” Clementine replied sharply. “You’re ridiculously opinionated and if someone doesn’t agree with you or says the wrong thing, you go mad.”

“Do not!”

“Do too!”

This time Charlie rolled his eyes. “Are we really doing this?”

“I don’t know. Do you want to?” she challenged, arching her brow.

He passed a hand over the top of his hair, a tell-tale sign of his frustration. “No,” he admitted, pausing when his hand hit his neck to rub the tense muscles there. “I don’t.”

Clementine breathed a sigh of relief and dropped her arms from her chest. “Good, because I don’t either.”

Charlie’s smile was a little lacklustre as he held out his arm, indicating that he wanted her to resume her former position at his side. She complied, tucking herself underneath his arm and feeling reassured by the weight of it along her shoulders. They were silent as they weaved through the throng of people until, finally, Charlie couldn’t take it any longer.

“In all seriousness, though, R.E.M.?”

Despite herself, Clementine laughed, her eyes crinkling at the corners. “Well, it was either them or the Clash, but I thought you’d think I was trying too hard,” she revealed, a bit sheepish. “‘Bankrobber’ is probably one of my favourite tracks...ever, really. Shame they never released Super Black Market in the UK. I’ve always thought that was a bit unfair, you know?”

At this, he stopped short, completely oblivious to the disgruntled grunts of passers-by, and grinned down at her, unable to contain his joy. The Clash - his girl loved the Clash. This called for celebration. Or a decent snog, at any rate.

“I knew there was a reason why I fancied you,” he said as he cupped her cheeks with his hands and planted a kiss on her lips, ignoring the hustle and bustle of the open air market.

It was only when he was certain that if he didn’t break the kiss they would both die from oxygen deprivation that Charlie pulled back. She made a disgruntled noise and when she looked up at him, her eyes were dark with annoyance, her brow furrowed. He reached up between them and stroked the crease between her eyebrows, smiling gently when the line disappeared.

“Come on,” he said, dropping his hand away from her face and reclaiming hers within his grasp.

“Where are we going?”

“I saw a fruit vendor.”

“I thought you liked vegetables better than fruits,” mused Clementine, allowing herself to be tugged rather unceremoniously down the street.

“Yeah, well, after kissing you, I’m craving oranges.”

She rolled her eyes at his grin, but couldn’t help finding it the least bit endearing.

*


“So,” Mrs Weasley said as she cleared the kitchen table with a flick of her wand. “Who is she?”

Charlie nearly choked on his beer. “Who’s who?”

Mrs Weasley chuckled and patted her son on the back. “You know who I’m talking about, dear,” she replied with an amused smile.

“I’m telling you, Mum,” Charlie said as he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, “there’s no-one.”

“I’m not stupid, you know,” stated Mrs Weasley as she returned to her seat across from him. “And I don’t like being treated as if I am.”

“Didn’t say you were,” he murmured, taking another sip of his beer.

His mother sighed. “The last time you were so distracted that you didn’t ask for seconds was when you fell head over heels in love with that one woman. What was her name? Stacy? Kelly?”

“It was Wendy,” Charlie interrupted before she could get any further, “and I’m not head over heels in love with her.” But I’m pretty damn close.

“So there is a girl!” Mrs Weasley exclaimed, absolutely overjoyed with the news. . “I knew it! I knew there was a reason why you didn’t say anything about the food. That’s very unlike my Charlie boy.” She reached for his hand and gave his knuckles an affectionate pat.

Charlie knew it was pointless to deny it. His mother was like a hound dog, what with her ability to sniff out the newest bit of going-ons in her childrens’ lives. “Yeah,” he sighed, fighting off a content smile, “there’s a girl.”

Hardly able to contain her excitement, Mrs Weasley clapped her hands and beamed at her son. “Tell me about her!”

Her enthusiasm was contagious and for the first time since he was sixteen and in love, Charlie divulged the information to his mother freely and fully, a smile of his own plastered on his mouth the entire time.



Chapter 4: (Late) July - Part One
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(LATE) JULY - PART ONE


stunning image by cérise


Fractured beams of sunlight broke through the curtains, illuminating the room in what felt like a pre-dawn glow. If his intuition was anything to go by, though, it was probably closer to ten o’clock in the morning, not dawn.

Fighting the low groan that threatened to escape, Charlie rolled over, thirsting for the feel of her skin underneath his palms, only to be met with an empty space, stark in its coldness in the brightly lit (and coloured; the walls were yellow, cheery to the point where he thought he would hate it after a few nights-turned-into-mornings, but now, he actually loved it because it was so Clem) room.

He didn’t like not waking up to her, not when he was so accustomed to just turning over and being greeted by her face. It was the last thing he saw before he slept and the first - and only - thing he wanted to see when he woke. When he had told her this, she laughed softly and pressed a kiss to the tip of his nose, telling him that he was silly and that there were far more worthy things to wake up to. Then he had pulled her closer so that her chest was perfectly aligned with his and he could feel her heart thrumming in her chest through the thin fabric of her tee shirt and kissed the nonsense right out of her.

He frowned to himself, and not just because her side of the bed was empty. (Really, it was her bed, but if he had his choice, he would never leave it. Goddamn obligations.) It was because he had been deprived of the one moment he cherished above anything else - watching her blink the sleep away from her eyes and whisper good morning in that breathy way of hers that made his head spin.

However, despite the fact she had forgone the tides of slumber and was probably milling about her flat, either chasing the cat or beading jewellery, Charlie could picture her features clearly, as if she was still in front of him. Dark lashes brushing her cheekbones, pink lips parted slightly, and that typical semi-smile on her mouth that meant she was dreaming her dreams and vaguely, he wondered if he was a part of them.

Charlie wasn’t sure how long he lay in the bed, one arm crooked underneath his head, the other feeling the increasingly cold space where Clem’s body should’ve been, but wasn’t, silently wishing that she would come back and warm him up from the inside outside. It could have been seconds or hours, but eventually, the need to stretch out his muscles won out and he slid out of bed, searching absently for his shirt and coming up empty-handed.

Shrugging to himself, Charlie shuffled out of the bedroom and down the narrow hall, not at all surprised to hear music drifting towards him; it was a mixture of her voice, which was completely off-tune, and the radio. She was butchering the song to the point where he couldn’t even recognise what it was. For some strange reason, this made him smile and laugh to himself as he stumbled into the kitchen, which was actually just a stove, a small fridge, and an old rickety table she used as a worktop.

From his position in the doorway, he observed her, in a plain blue tee shirt that fell to the middle of her thighs (later, as he broke away from her kiss and pealed the shirt over her head, he’d realise that it was his shirt) and her dark hair free and hanging about her shoulders, as she fried a pan of bacon and eggs. Judging from the way she continued to sing her horrendous rendition of a classic James Brown song as she flipped the strips of bacon, Charlie knew that she hadn’t the slightest clue that he was watching her with an amused grin on his face.

When the song ended, Charlie uncrossed his arms and clapped his hands. As expected, she jumped, the turner in her hand clattering to the floor. Whirling around, Clementine glared at him. “Charlie!”

“What?” He assumed an innocent expression. “I didn’t do anything.”

“Except give me a heart attack,” she groused as she knelt down to pick up the turner.

Charlie ignored her remark, watching as she turned on the tap and rinsed off the dirtied turner. “You have a lovely singing voice.”

She pulled a face. “Like I haven’t heard that one before.”

“No, really,” he deflected, smiling at her. “It’s lovely.”

“And let me guess,” Clementine said as she scrubbed the turner with a rag, amusement tickling her voice, “it can only be heard by dogs?”

“Well, I heard it and I’m not a dog,” he commented.

Clementine arched an eyebrow. “Are you sure about that?”

“Positive.”

She snorted, grinning wryly. “After the show you put on last night, you could’ve fooled me.”

He chuckled as he came up behind her, gathering her long hair into a bundle and pushing it over her left shoulder to expose the side of her neck. Smiling as the smell of oranges assaulted his senses, he pressed a light kiss to her pulse point. “You’re a naughty girl,” he said, his warm breath skating over her skin and raising gooseflesh. “Did you know that?”

Leaning into his body, she let his arms circle her waist, the palms of his hands flat against her abdomen, his fingers splayed. “No,” she replied with a shake of her head, another smile worming its way onto her lips. “I didn’t.” She twisted in his embrace so she was facing him; she tilted her chin to look up at him, her fingers dancing over his bare back. “Perhaps you could remind me?”

Charlie grinned and kissed the tip of her nose. “As lovely as that sounds, we’ve got to get ready.”

A wrinkle appeared in her brow. “Ready? For what?”

“Really, Clem? You forgot already?” When her face remained as blank as a fresh sheet of parchment, Charlie sighed. “Today’s Sunday.”

“And?”

Laughing softly, Charlie leaned his forehead against her. “Honestly, woman, you’re going to be the death of me.”

Clementine poked him in the side, making him squirm. “Don’t tempt me, dearest. Now, are you going to tell me what my daft self so carelessly forgot or are you going to tease me until our breakfast gets cold?”

He twisted out of her embrace, though somehow managed to catch her hand. “We’ve got to go to my parents’ house for brunch.” Charlie watched with a mixture of amusement and reluctance as the colour drained away from Clementine’s face. “You’re meeting my family today, remember?”

“Oh, yeah,” she laughed hollowly, her eyes glazing over as she stared pointedly at the kitchen floor. “I remember now.”

Charlie frowned. He understood her hesitancy to meet his family, especially since it was so obnoxiously large, but he didn’t think that she’d be like this. When he had first told her of his mother’s desire to meet her, Clementine had been over the moon. Admittedly, that was over a month ago, and Clem was fairly forgetful…still, he didn’t want to force her to meet them.

“We don’t have to go if you don’t want to,” Charlie said cautiously, caressing her knuckles with his thumb. “We can always -”

“No,” Clementine interrupted sharply, pulling her eyes away from the floor. “It’s not that I don’t want to meet them, Charlie, but - well, what about all of this food I’ve just made?” Her jaw clenched and her eyes narrowed, though the fire in her voice was half-hearted. “Why didn’t you remind me earlier?”

“It’s not that big of a - OUCH, Clem, stop it!” Charlie raised his arms to protect his head from her slaps. She was laughing, which meant she wasn’t actually angry with him (or at the very least, she wasn’t very angry with him), and turned her attention from smacking him on the arms to prodding him in the side.

Somewhere in the middle of all the tickling and giggling, Charlie managed to capture her lips with his own and soon, the childish fun was forgotten, replaced by the need to feel the heat of the other’s flesh against their own. She returned his kiss eagerly, tangling her fingers in his hair as he lifted her onto the makeshift worktop, where their breakfast went untouched and time passed.

Even after they came back to their proper state of mind, they realised it was fruitless to try and make it on time, for they were always going to be late (especially since Charlie had waited until the last minute to remind Clementine about the date) and that was just all right with them.



A/N: Sorry for the delay! Had a bit of a lag in inspiration, which returned full force just a few days ago! Thanks for reading.

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