After having dressed and brushed off leaves and twigs, they stood holding each other to stay warm in the ever-dropping temperatures. Hermione rested her head on Charlie’s shoulder, feeling more satisfied and content than she ever remembered. The sun began to set, and both Hermione and Charlie’s stomachs were making it known that dinner time was approaching, though neither wanted to ruin the moment by joining the hustle and bustle of the house.
They walked back as slowly as possible and separated their hands when they came within a certain range of the house. Hermione thought to herself how much she already hated hiding her relationship with Charlie, and it hadn’t even been twenty-four hours. They passed through the back door of the kitchen where they met Mrs. Weasley. She turned from her work over the stove to greet them, and as they left, pondered upon how long their walk had lasted.
Hermione and Charlie took leave of each other at the top of the stairs and parted without even the tiniest kiss (she knew it was too risky, but was disappointed nonetheless). She entered her room to find Ginny and Harry having a heated discussion over Merlin knows what, and said hello to them both.
“Hi, Hermione,” said Harry, but he barely got a small “hi” from her before Ginny prompted him to the door, saying she wanted to talk to Hermione.
“Not now, Gin. I’m going to take a shower.”
Ginny nodded. Yeah, wouldn’t want to smell like sex, or else someone might find out… “Ok,” she replied easily.
Hermione dried her hair, something she didn’t usually do after her showers, because she didn’t want the whole world knowing she had just taken one, lest they get suspicious. (She was never one to take evening showers, as she was a morning person, and thought it might draw unnecessary attention to her if she came down to dinner with wet hair.) She and Ginny were the last two down to dinner and found that their seats had already been chosen for them. Harry, of course, saved a spot for Ginny right beside him, so the only place left was next to Ron. Hermione couldn’t help being angry that she couldn’t sit by Charlie (even though she knew it wasn’t anybody’s fault since nobody knew any better), but at least Charlie was seated right across from her.
Sorry, Charlie mouthed. Obviously, he’d been a little late as well or else he would have made sure they had seats beside each other. Just seeing him smile at her the way he did made Hermione forget her annoyance and helped her to relax into a comfortable meal.
The strange thing was, she thought she ought to feel more awkward sitting beside Ron, (especially as she reveled in the memories of her rendezvous with Charlie), but found that even her worries over losing her friend were dulled due to the soothing effect of Charlie’s presence. She and Ron even managed to have civil conversation without becoming flustered and embarrassed when they spoke.
And actually, Hermione had been interested to know what Ron had been up to all day, since she’d hardly even seen him at all, but felt that asking him would only draw attention to the fact that she had been gone and might cause her to have to explain her whereabouts. Fortunately, Fred and George answered her question when they started talking about their new, top-secret product that Ron had been helping them develop. Ron actually looked quite pleased with himself when the twins complimented him on how much he had contributed to the development of the new product. Hermione wondered if Harry had also been in on it, but then reminded herself that Ginny had probably stolen him away for most of the day to find a dark corner in which to make out. Well, at least Ron hadn’t been alone all day while she was preoccupied with Charlie.
Everyone was disappointed to hear Charlie’s news about having to return to work early, especially Mrs. Weasley.
“Oh Charlie, can’t you ask for a few more days?”
Yes! Ask for a few more days! Hermione tried to telepathically communicate across the table.
“Sorry, Mum. I’d love to stay but Walt Springly got a nasty bite, so he’ll be out for a while. I’ve got to go tend to his dragon while he’s recovering.”
Mrs. Weasley huffed, “That careless… Can’t someone else do it?”
“Blimey, Mother. It’s my job, you know. Not like I have a choice,” Charlie said, hoping to end the conversation.
“Very well, but you’d better hurry home soon. Make them give you extra holiday time for having to go back early!” Mrs. Weasley suggested.
“Oh, Mother…” he sighed. “Don’t worry; I’ll be home before you know it. Besides, we’ve got some little ones about to graduate Hogwarts, soon. Think I’d miss that?” Charlie smiled at his mother and then at Hermione.
Ron looked up from his plate and said, “Hey, watch who you’re calling little, prat. Last time I checked, I was still a head taller than you.” He grinned facetiously and pretended to aim his dinner roll at Charlie’s head, until Mrs. Weasley intervened.
As dinner came to an end, Hermione and Charlie regretfully unlocked their legs from underneath the table and waved to each other before parting ways. Of course they just wanted to be alone, but they had already spent so much time together that they figured anything more would have to be covert in order to avoid suspicion.
Ron and Harry followed the twins to their “laboratory” and grinned sportively back at Hermione and Ginny, who were heading back to their bedroom. Hermione hoped the twins would remember to hold their tongues, and Ginny was delightfully glad the boys were gone so she could ask Hermione about her walk with Charlie.
“It was just lovely. Well, except the part when he told me he was leaving tomorrow. But at least he knows the twins won’t tell…”
“That’s not what I mean, Hermione,” grinned Ginny. “Did you, you know, what we talked about?”
Hermione blushed as she never had before. She started to shake her head and then remembered Ginny was the only girl she ever talked to and rather needed her support.
“Oh my god, you did!” Ginny exclaimed.
Hermione fumbled around her drawers for her hairbrush but gave up the pursuit and settled for a pony tail, all the while failing to make a complete sentence.
“How was it?” the redhead asked.
“It, err…” Hermione didn’t know how she could be so embarrassed talking to Ginny after…after what she had just done with Charlie. That’s different, she told herself.
Ginny smiled, which made Hermione smile and cause her cheeks to redden further.
“You used a contraceptive charm, didn’t you?” the younger girl asked, suddenly concerned.
“Of course, I did, Gin.” First sentence she’d managed in five minutes.
“You really are the cleverest witch of your age, ‘Mione.” But I’m the sneakiest… “Imagine, you doing all that and not getting caught! I can’t believe no one knows you two are together,” Ginny mused.
“Well, not no one…Fred and George do. And you. But now I really don’t care who knows, I just want him to stay,” Hermione answered while putting her robe on over her nightgown.
“Yes, you do. What are you going to tell Ron? And when?”
“I honestly don’t know, Gin.”
Hermione gathered some of her school books and headed toward the door. “I’m going to the library to study. School starts soon and I haven’t done any of my work, yet. I’ll see you later.”
Yes, much later. “Bye,” Ginny called out.
A couple of hours later, Hermione closed her Arithmancy book. School could only distract her for so long, and she was desperate to see Charlie again. A thought to go look for him crossed her mind but she deduced she should probably wait a bit to make sure everyone was asleep. Still, she couldn’t stand the library any longer and continued down the hall to the living room. Surely he’d find her there.
She sat and stared at the bare Christmas tree outlined in the window, and barely waited ten minutes before, “You’re too predictable, love.”
“And what’s so wrong with that?” she glared playfully up at Charlie.
“Did I say anything was wrong with it?” he countered while taking a seat beside her and planting a kiss on her cheek. “At least I knew where you were. You been here the whole time?”
She crossed her legs over his lap and told him about studying in the library. When she asked him where he’d been, he answered sadly, “Mum and Dad were helping me pack.” Then he laughed and said, “Then Fred and George dragged me down to their lab for a bit.”
Hermione leaned into his shoulder and muttered, “Oh, I don’t want you to go,” as she nuzzled into his neck. He wrapped his arms around her and picked her up, much with the familiar feeling of the night before, and walked the path to Hermione’s room.
“No, take me with you,” Hermione pleaded.
Once in his room, he let Hermione down who immediately shed her robe, revealing a slinky, pink gown. She pulled back the covers of Charlie’s full-size bed and climbed in, snuggling into the pillows.
Charlie locked the door and put a silencing charm on the room, taking no chances. He removed his sweater and under t-shirt and tossed them in his hamper before joining her. She curled up next to him and slowly dozed off as he lightly massaged her back through her silky gown. He talked to her while she was half-asleep, hating the fact that this would be the last time for months he’d see her in person.
“You know, it’s a good thing training dragons takes immense concentration, or else I might go mad thinking about you all the time… Merlin, I’m going to miss you so much.”
Her eyes were still closed, but she nodded her head slightly and sleepily moaned, “Mhmm,” in agreement.
Charlie couldn’t help thinking how beautiful and peaceful she looked when she was sleeping—or almost sleeping. Just like an angel.
“We can always write each other,” he said while rubbing her shoulder.
Hermione sighed and nodded her head even smaller than before.
“Yeah, five months won’t be so bad. We’ll be together again before you know it.” Then you’ll be mine forever.
Charlie finally fell asleep with Hermione still in his arms. This was the first time he’d ever resented going back to work.
When she woke up in the morning, he was gone. The alarm clock hummed to warn her she’d better get back to her own room before someone caught her, and as she reached to turn it off, she found a note laying on Charlie’s pillow.
You looked so beautiful this morning that I didn’t have the heart to wake you, and I doubt I could have let you go if I did. Two thousand miles won’t stop me from loving you. Have a good term, and happy (almost) New Year’s.
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