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“It was amazing, Ginny. The heat was almost unbearable—but in a good way. Oh, Merlin, the way he touched me…” Hermione went on, falling back on her bed and letting her hair sprawl out on her pillow.

“As much as I love gossip, Hermione, remember this is my brother we’re talking about, so please spare me the intimately graphic details,” Ginny pleaded facetiously.

“Sorry, Gin, I just can’t help it. It’s like I’m out of control or something. When I get with him I just want to... do stuff I never have before. He makes me feel different than any guy ever has done.”

Ginny studied her friend’s dazed expression. “Not even Ron?”

She leaned up and wrinkled her brow at the mention of Ron’s name. “Ron and I never had a relationship—of any sort. For all practical purposes, we are just friends. That’s the way we wanted it, so that’s the way it’s staying. Besides, I don’t think Ron could ever do anything like Charlie… So I guess the answer to your question would be no: Ron’s never made me feel like that.”

Despite the redhead’s plea to keep details out of it, she seemed highly engrossed with Hermione’s spiel about Charlie. “Anything like what?”

Hermione found herself at a loss for words. How could she say what she was feeling without coming across as being completely mad?

“Err, Ginny…Have you and Harry ever, you know…” she lowered her voice to an almost inaudible whisper, “had sex?”

“HERMIONE!” Ginny yelped, and suddenly Hermione had wished she hadn’t said anything. “Is that what you’re thinking about…with Charlie…? Oh, goodness!” she rambled while trying not to giggle.

Hermione looked ashamed and embarrassed but still had to know, “Well, err…have you?”

“Goodness, no! Do you really think Harry is that audacious to try something on me? Not like it wouldn’t be welcome or anything, but I think Harry’s just as scared of me as he is of what my brothers would do if they found out he’d shagged me,” Ginny laughed. “It’ll be ten years before he ever touches me. Hell, I’ll be lucky to get him on our wedding night, if he ever asks me to marry him, that is.”

The busy-haired girl looked even more crestfallen than before and replied, “This is insane, Ginny. I don’t know what I was thinking, getting together with Charlie. He has so much more experience and…I guess he really is too old for me. I should probably just break things off.”

“Don’t you dare, Hermione Jane Granger! Love knows no age limits, and I’ll be damned if I let you give up on your relationship over something silly! Besides, you’ve got to have a first time before you can have a second time, so what difference does it make that he has more experience? Everyone starts from the beginning—just remember that. It’s going to happen sooner or later so why not let it be with someone you love?” Ginny cried passionately.

Hermione was stunned at Ginny’s forcefulness and was absolutely convinced that Ginny had full faith in these convictions by the way she spoke. But she was right…

“You love him, don’t you?”

A small smile found itself on Hermione’s face, and she looked down at her briefcase. “Yeah, Ginny, I really do.”

“Then you must know that Charlie would never do anything to hurt you in any way. Out of all my brothers, he’s definitely the most conscientious of the lot, and the most sensitive to girls. You don’t have any reason to be afraid. If you wanted to wait, he’d wait for you.”

Ginny was right—Charlie would wait for her—and this thought made her want him even more. The mere fact that Charlie would be willing to take any means necessary just to make her comfortable somehow made him all the more sexier and desirable. Hermione felt she might lose her mind from the sheer strain of the thousands of thoughts and emotions running through her at that moment.

“It’s about time I go meet Charlie. I said I ‘d only be a few minutes…”

“Oh?” asked Ginny mischievously.

“We’re just taking a walk. He’s going to tell me about Fred and George. I’m a little worried about those two, not sure if they can keep their fat mouths shut,” said Hermione uneasily.

Ginny nodded her head knowingly. “How long are you going to keep this from everyone?”

“Seems a few people already know, so if by everyone you mean Ron, then I don’t know. As long as we can, I guess.”

“Don’t you think he needs to know?”

“Eventually. I just don’t know how to tell him. Ok, well, I’d better get going. See you in a little while.”

After Hermione rounded the corner, Ginny quietly skittered down the hall to her boyfriend’s room for a much-needed chat.

Hermione knocked, and he same deep, sexy voice beckoned her to enter.

“I think I should stay, actually,” she responded while still standing outside Charlie’s door. She felt quite comfortable in her clean knickers and wanted to keep it that way for their walk.

Charlie agreed with a laugh and closed the door behind him before accompanying Hermione out the back door of Grimmauld Place. The whole trip through the house, he wanted nothing more than to reach out and take her delicate hand in his, but he restrained himself. He hated hiding but knew it was the only way it could work until she was ready.

They continued along their usual path around the expansive yard in the direction of the small woods just beyond. Now Charlie was finally able to hold her close as he rested his arm on her shoulder.

“The twins must’ve heard you come downstairs and followed you. They told me they were just heading down to the kitchen for some snacks but somehow I don’t really believe that,” Charlie said skeptically.

“Why would they want to follow me, though? Since when have they ever cared what I do?”

Charlie paused. “Maybe since they saw me staring at you as you left dinner the other night. After you left they kind of did this impression of me with crossed-eyes and my tongue hanging out like an idiot,” he smiled.

“Oh,” Hermione blushed. “Yeah, that might do it.”

“Well, at about six this morning they came barging into my room making smacking noises and saying things like, “Oh, Hermione!’ and “Oh, I love you!’ I knew they’d been eavesdropping when George said, ‘I haven’t felt this way about someone in a long time!’ and took Fred’s hand, who was pretending he was you. Then of course, I saw the Extendable Ear sticking out of Fred’s pocket.”

Hermione laughed in spite of the delicate situation with the twins, because she had to admit they were very clever.

“So that’s why you skipped breakfast—Fred and George interrupted your sleep cycle!” she grinned, and then became serious again. “Well, now what do we do? You said they wouldn’t tell anyone, but how can you be sure?”

Charlie answered her with confidence. “Trust me, I know a couple of secrets of theirs they wouldn’t like getting around, and they know that if they spill, I spill,” he grinned roguishly. “If word got out that they actually had girlfriends—former teammates, no less—they were civil to, their images as immature jokesters would be ruined. They couldn’t allow that to interfere with their business, now could they?”

“If you say so,” Hermione answered, hoping with all her might that Charlie knew his crafty brothers as well as he thought he did.

They came to the edge of the woods and pushed back bare branches, stepped over fallen logs, and crunched dead leaves as they entered. Dry twigs snapped loudly and flung bits of bark into Hermione’s ever-expanding hair. The air was chilly and silent, save for the rustling that crackled all around them.

“Yeah, don’t worry. No one will ever find out about us,” Charlie said in what Hermione ciphered to be a disappointed tone.

She felt guilty now. “Oh, Charlie, it’s not that I don’t ever want this out in the open; it’s not like I’m ashamed or anything. I just don’t know how to tell Ron I’m in love with someone else, and then have to explain it’s his big brother.” She sighed and continued, “I don’t want to lose my friend.”

Charlie had stopped walking but the light rustling continued until Hermione turned around to face him.

“So then you really do want to be with me?” he asked in disbelief.

She neared him and, at the sound of a snapping tree limb, answered, “Of course, I do. Didn’t you believe me last night when I told you I loved you?”

“It’s not that I didn’t believe you. I just thought that you and Ron… Well, that once you got back to school you’d realize he was the one you were supposed to be with, and I’d just become a memory. I couldn’t stop myself from thinking this was only a temporary holiday fling, though it killed me to think like that.”

She took more steps towards him and said, “This can’t be temporary, Charlie. I need you. I need Ron, too, but in a different way. He and Harry are my best friends, and I can’t ever lose them, but I can’t lose you either…We only have to keep this up for a little while longer because school starts in less than a week.” She then wrapped her arms around his neck and whispered, “Merlin, I’m going to miss you so much,” while planting a peck on his cheek.

“It’ll be less time than that, I’m afraid. I’m leaving for Romania tomorrow,” Charlie said regretfully. “They need me back at the reserve, you know.”

Hermione’s eyes filled with tears as she mouthed, “No,” and Charlie kissed them away as they slid down her red cheeks. “Please, don’t go, Charlie.”

He looked deeply into her soggy eyes and replied. “I’m not going anywhere until tomorrow. You can have me until then…”

Hermione moved her hands to behind his neck and pulled herself up to meet his lips. As she moved her hands to work on Charlie’s belt buckle, he broke their kiss.

“Are you sure we should be doing this, Hermione?”

She linked their hands together and looked pleadingly up at him.

“Oh, Charlie, you know you’re leaving tomorrow,” she said while reaching up to kiss the side of his mouth, “and it’s going to be months before we see each other again. Please, I need you…”

Hermione continued to kiss him softly so that he couldn’t refuse, and grabbed around her waist and squeezed her to him. He then broke away from her kiss, inching slowly down her neck and unbuttoning the top of her cloak for access to her clavicle. She allowed Charlie to ease her down onto the ground and, because of the heavy panting, neither heard the stifled gasps as their garments were shed and tossed carelessly about.

A mere six feet away, two onlookers were shocked at the intimate display that was taking place right before them. Ginny turned to kiss him, but he held her off for fear that he wouldn’t be able to stop once he got going.

“We can’t. We shouldn’t even be here, Gin.”

The invisibility cloak didn’t leave them much space to distance themselves, and the moans coming from Charlie and Hermione seemed to beg Ginny to do something.

“Harry, just kiss me,” she pleaded.

He obeyed but felt himself giving in to his arousal and quickly severed contact with his girlfriend.

“Ginny look, this is wrong. We still shouldn’t be here, and I shouldn’t have let you use my cloak this morning. This is Hermione and Charlie’s business, and quite frankly I don’t really enjoy seeing my best friend like that.”

“You’re not looking, are you!?” the fiery redhead demanded.

“Er, no Ginny. That’s not what…Ugh, never mind. Charlie had just better be lucky he’s a Weasley, or else I might have to knock his lights out.”

“I’m surprised you’re thinking straight enough to dish out threats; most guys aren’t so aware when the blood has been deprived from their brains,” Ginny spat, annoyed.

“Well, one of us has to be reasonable,” he noted.

She threw him a look that told him he was going to pay for that comment later.

“Please, Ginny, let’s go,” Harry begged, and Ginny tiptoed (though she felt like stomping) off beside him.

Hermione saw nothing and heard nothing of her spying friends, being as she was in ecstasy with her love. Her breathing grew rapid, then altogether stopped as she held it. Her toes curled, and she let out a soft scream as she and Charlie climaxed together, and then fell limply with their arms and legs wrapped around each other. The chill air was friendly to her hot, sweaty skin and, as she lay with Charlie, couldn’t think of any place she’d rather be.

Hogwarts would be hell without him.

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