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Charlie took a small detour before making his way back to the Heads’ Tower; he wanted to make sure everything was perfect for tonight. Even with the slight deviance in his path back from the lake, he still made it back before Hermione returned (which he had no way of knowing). So, not knowing the password, Charlie tapped lightly on the door of the common room, but got no answer. Then he heard Hermione’s laughing voice behind him as she rounded a corner, and the Head Boy by her side.

“Oh, Charlie!” Hermione greeted as she scampered quickly over to him and threw her arms over his shoulders. “I’m so sorry! Have you been waiting long?”

“No, just got here. You two seem to be having a good time,” he smiled, hiding the ounce of jealousy he felt, even though he really knew Malfoy was not a threat at all (especially after the conversation they’d had just hours earlier). The pointy-faced boy would mind his manners from now on if he knew what was good for him, and Charlie made sure of that.

“Oh, we just grabbed a late lunch. I didn’t get anything at Hogsmeade because, well, you know…” Hermione trailed off.

As the two stood outside the doorway talking, they eventually noticed that Malfoy had since disappeared into the common room, claiming his seat on a squashy chair. They decided the hallway was not a good place for involved conversation and joined the other boy inside.

“Wow, you’ve been here all day and I feel like I’ve hardly even seen you!” Hermione pouted. They sat across from each other, with their chairs pulled as close together as possible, and Hermione petted her hands through Charlie’s red hair as she fussed over him.

Charlie responded by leaning in to rest his forehead against hers and whispered, “I know. It’s been a long day, but I’m glad to finally be back here with you.” He leaned in further, directing his lips towards hers, but their kiss was halted by a disgusted huff.

“Urgh, you two are repulsive,” Malfoy said, throwing down the magazine he’d been reading. “Why don’t you get a room?”

“You like this room, Hermione?” Charlie asked cheekily.

“Yes, I quite like this room,” she responded.

Malfoy scowled at them and promptly shuffled upstairs to his bedroom, making a point to shut his door a little louder than necessary.

Charlie shrugged. “This is the common room, I guess, and he has a right to use it, too. Can’t say I blame him, but at the same time… Well, the bloke deserves it for making a pass at my girl,” he grinned.

They’d now moved to the couch to be “more comfortable”, and Hermione leaned up against her boyfriend, with her legs sprawled out over the end of the couch. Charlie played with her hair and kissed her cheek and neck as they sat there. She was enjoying this far more than she ever thought possible, and not just because she was being doted on by the man she loved, but also because she was thinking of a bit of payback for Malfoy: this time, the screaming and banging noises would come from Hermione’s bedroom and keep Malfoy up at night, not the other way around. She took great pleasure in the thought.

“You’re looking very smitten, love,” Charlie commented.

Still wrapped up with thoughts of the evening, Hermione tilted her head back to meet Charlie’s eyes. “Oh, I am,” she said in a silky, tantalizing voice. “But I won’t be for very long if you don’t kiss me right now.”

He didn’t need to be told twice and bent his head forward to meet the girl who lay across him. Her legs came up and she snuggled even closer into Charlie as their simple kiss turned into a very long, heated snog. Charlie broke after a while for air, gasping, “God, I needed that.”

Hermione seemed to be thinking the same thing, only she still needed it, which was made apparent when she commanded, “Do it again.”

“I love it when you’re bossy.” Then he obeyed.

The last thing Charlie wanted to do was stop in this heated moment—part of him even wanted to forget his whole plan and ask her to marry him right then and there—but the other part (the part that was now jabbing into Hermione’s hip as she lay on top of him) signaled him that it was time to stop. They were still in the common room, after all, and he wanted nothing about their intimate lives to be common. Hermione was a bit pushy when he started to back away from her, but giving her “the look” brought her back to reality as well. She sat up and brushed off the front of her robes, smoothing out the many wrinkles that had developed since tangling herself with Charlie.

Hermione looked at him awkwardly, not knowing if it was something she’d done to make him back away. But Charlie made it clear that this was not the reason at all. “Do you want to talk?” Charlie asked. “I know you’ve got to be thinking about a lot right now, and… Well, if you’d like to talk about it, I think we should.”

Yes, her mind was swimming with scenarios and feelings of all the events that had taken place in such a short amount of time, but that was precisely why she didn’t want to talk about it. When she kissed Charlie, everything else went away. It provided her relief from her brain and, for once, she was able to react solely with her body and not her mind. There would be no talking right now. Talking would be reserved for when their bodies were too tired to do anything else. So, without an answer to Charlie’s question, she grabbed him by the hand and dragged him up to her bedroom. Hermione closed the door quickly behind him and pushed him up against the door, using a surprising amount of force for such a little girl. She kissed him hard, feeling his panting breath against her skin, and lifted his shirt over his head.

“I don’t want to talk,” she said breathlessly. “Not now. Right now I just want you.”

“Yeah, I guess—there’s plenty—time for that—later,” Charlie said between kissing his girlfriend and simultaneously helping her remove his clothes by kicking his shoes off (quite a task for someone with little blood left in his brain). If he’d have been thinking, he’d have taken better care of how his trousers folded on the floor and made sure that the velvety box stayed put in the pocket. Fortunately for him, Hermione was too wrapped up to notice that Charlie even owned clothes, let alone see that he had a box in a pocket of his trousers.

No Imperturbable Charm was placed on her bedroom, partially because Hermione was caught up in the moment of finally getting her boyfriend back, and partially because she wanted to irritate the one who’d caused her so much trouble in the first place. She won on both ends, and she couldn’t have been happier.

Hermione’s room would have been quite cold, if not for the heat the pair had generated during the past hour. A thin, silky sheet kissed Charlie’s naked legs, but Hermione was the one keeping him warm as she curled her petite body into his side. Their breathing rates had returned to normal by now, but the sweat still glistened on their brows, and every gush of wind through her open window sent chills down Charlie’s spine. He was also very eager to clean himself up and proceed with his romantic proposal.

When Hermione heard Charlie’s stomach growl, she thought about how they’d probably already missed dinner. Having eaten a late lunch, Hermione felt she could eat, though she wasn’t too starving. “Would you like to go down and see if there’s any food left?” she asked him.

“Like this?” Charlie laughed. “I’m sure that would draw some attention.”

Hermione rolled her eyes at him. “No, I was thinking we’d have to have a shower, first.” She gave him a sexy, sideways grin and left the bed to make for the bathroom.

“You did say ‘we’, didn’t you?” he asked with an excited grin.

“Only if you’re interested,” Hermione replied coyly, as she glanced back at him and moved Charlie’s trousers out of her path with her foot.

Charlie nearly had a heart attack from jumping out of bed so fast. Luck must have been on his side that day, because Hermione didn’t notice a single odd thing about his trousers.

“Eager, are you?” she laughed.

Hermione drew the hot water and stepped under the showerhead, running her hands over her hair as Charlie stood and watched. The soap made her skin even more slick and soft than usual, which Charlie had never even thought possible.

“Well? What are you waiting for?”

Charlie was so mesmerized watching her that he’d been standing on the tile floor the entire time. “You’re just so beautiful. Merlin, I could shag you senseless again right now, and even better than ever.”

“Apparently,” she said, nodding her head towards his lower half. “Now come on and get yourself cleaned up, including that dirty mouth of yours.”

“You know you like it,” Charlie laughed. He stepped into the shower, and pulled her close to him. “And this dirty mouth will kiss you till the day I die.”

They left the Heads’ Tower much later than intended and, at this point, Hermione was sure they’d missed dinner.

“Sorry, Charlie,” Hermione apologized.

Charlie gaped at her. “Sorry? For that!?”

She pretended to be embarrassed and just grinned at him. “Well, it made us miss dinner, didn’t it? But I’m sure Dobby would find us some food if you want to run down to the kitchens…” Hermione suggested.

“Hmm, I’ve got a better idea. This way,” he said, taking her by the hand and leading her in the opposite direction. Excellent, he thought, all according to plans.

He led her down corridor after corridor, up this staircase and that staircase, past meandering students, an annoyed Filch, and Peeves on a tirade against Mrs. Norris. Hermione recognized their destination as the Astronomy Tower, and couldn’t think of a more romantic place to spend time with Charlie. The climb to the top had always been a bit exhausting for her, especially since she usually had a full book load slung across her shoulders, but trekking the stairs seemed insanely more bearable just by having Charlie at her side.

The night was clear, blacker and brighter than it had been in ages, and the stars glittered their good luck down to Charlie. They stood at the edge of the wall, peering down over the grounds of Hogwarts. Everything looked so peaceful from that high up that Hermione couldn’t help but daydream and get lost in her thoughts, as she stood hand in hand with the man she loved.

“Ok, now I want you to close your eyes,” he said. “Go on.”

Hermione was reluctant, as she hated to miss out on the gorgeous scenery, but felt that the calmness of her closed eyelids was even more peaceful than the landscape before her. Not that she really cared, Hermione was more curious than anything and asked, “Is there some reason why I’m closing my eyes?”

Charlie watched Dobby disappear stealthily down the staircase and turned back to Hermione. “Not anymore. Turn around.”

She did so and was shocked to see a picnic dinner arranged on a blanket on the stone floor of the Astronomy Tower roof. It was set for two, with two tall candlesticks burning in the middle and a basket off to one side. She was too stunned to even speak.

“Care to join me for dinner, Miss Granger?” Charlie asked properly and politely, making quite a game out of the fanciness.

“Oh…my… You…” Hermione sputtered.

“No, no, not me—Dobby,” he explained, not wishing to take any more credit than he deserved (though he might have been rewarded for it later, he was sure his conscience would get the better of him).

They took their seats on the blanket and Charlie served the food that Dobby had brought up from the kitchens. Hermione didn’t even pay attention to what she was eating, though she knew it tasted fabulous. She’d always dreamed of dining on a rooftop and, as she was quite certain she’d never informed Charlie of this fact, felt it quite impressive that he came up with it all on his own. She even dreamed about what it would be like to be proposed to in such a setting as this (along with many other settings, of course), but this was just beyond her comprehension.

“I can’t believe you did this, Charlie. I mean… I can, because you’re just that—amazing—but still…” she said, her eyes glossy.

Charlie smiled. “Ron was right. There’s really no one else in the world quite like you.” Ooh, that was a good one. Yeah, lather it up before you pop the question there, mate, he consulted himself. Lather… he thought, reverting back to their recent shower. Ok, moving on…new topic…find something else to say. Sweep her off her feet!

Hermione ate up every word he said, but decided when he mentioned Ron’s name that he was subtly seeking for a conversation so she could vent all her feelings. He wanted to talk earlier and I didn’t let him. Now he’s gone and done this, so I owe him at least that much. We’ll talk, she settled.

“Wow, that’s… I don’t know what to say. And how is Ron doing? I know you wanted to talk about what happened a while ago.”

No! Charlie’s brain shouted. I had it just right! Well, if she needs to talk about Ron first, we better talk first. He sighed inwardly, so close.

They talked all through dinner, not realizing just how much they were eating (Dobby always went over and above doing what was asked of him, which obviously included packing dinners). Hermione related her conversation with Ron, and Charlie could tell that she was much more comfortable with the afternoon’s events after having talked about them. He knew that letting her talk was the right thing to do, and when she questioned him about his own meeting with Ron, he gave her as many details as he could without spoiling his plans. The news of Charlie’s encounter was much more satisfying to her, since she now knew that the brothers were on good terms and that Ron would eventually be all right. Even the part about the giggly sixth years ogling him had made her laugh.

All in all, dinner couldn’t have been lovelier, nor could have the surroundings or the company. They’d each said what they needed to say (except for one of them, who still had a ring burning a hole through his pocket), and although the romantic moment was not ruined with the chatter, it was definitely not the same kind of romantic as the way Charlie wanted to propose, so he decided to wait.

“Ready to go back, love?”

She nodded in response, and Charlie whisked her off her feet in one swift motion and made for the door. “What about the basket and things?” Hermione asked.

“Oh, Dobby said he’d come back up later and get them,” Charlie answered. However, when he received a disapproving raised eyebrow from his girlfriend, he set her down and quickly shoved the picnic contents back into the basket. “Or I’ll just take care of it for him,” he corrected, eliciting a satisfied nod from Hermione.

“Thank you.”

Good move. Just keep her happy.

The couple made it back to the Heads’ Tower in fairly decent time, considering they walked all the way down to the kitchens to return the basket and thank Dobby, on top of walking slowly enough to hold each other around the waist without breaking for a second. Malfoy was not in the common room when they entered, so they had no reservations whatsoever.

“Finally I can do this properly!” Charlie swept her up in his arms yet again and made for her staircase.

Hermione kissed him, and Charlie was a bit afraid of not being able to see where he was going, so he walked slower than he normally would just to make sure he didn’t do something stupid, like run into a wall. He reached her bedroom and felt instantly awakened; the smell of Hermione permeated through the whole room and excited his senses. This is what he dreamed about all those lonely nights he spent on the Dragon Reserve.

“Will you stay here tonight?” Hermione asked earnestly.

He kissed her tenderly as he lay down on the bed beside her and stroked her arm. “All of my things are still back in Dumbledore’s guestroom. Don’t suppose I could really go and get them or anything. Imagine what that conversation would be like when he asks me where I am going to stay!”

“Maybe you don’t have to go get it. What’ve you got that’s so vital, anyway?”

“Well, clothes, for one…”

“You don’t need clothes…”

Charlie smiled. “I guess you’re right. I’ll have to go get my things tomorrow, regardless, but one night without them won’t hurt.”

“Don’t tell me you’re leaving already!” Hermione cried.

“Sweetheart, it’s my job. I have to go back.”

“But… But…” she pouted. “But what about that Johnson fellow? The one you had to take over for at Christmas? Doesn’t he owe you a favor? Couldn’t you just let him take care of your dragons for a few days?”

Charlie looked at her sadly. “I wish I could stay, love, but Johnson really isn’t trained enough to know how to handle my dragons, and frankly, I don’t really trust many of the others there to look after them. They’re very temperamental creatures and I’d hate to see one of my co-workers get charred to death.”

Hermione looked sadly down at her hands as she twiddled her fingers in her lap. “Why do you keep doing this? I finally get you back and now you’re leaving…”

Now feeling really guilty, Charlie took her petite hand in his and promised, “Well, I can make it worth your while as long as I’m here, Mrs. Weasley,” he smiled. Hermione’s head shot up and her heart pounded. Surely he didn’t just say…

Charlie repositioned himself on the bed so that now he was perched on both knees, directly in front of her, and fished around in his pocket for the box. He, once again, took Hermione’s hand and held out the open box with the other as he said, “I love you, Hermione. Will you be my Mrs. Weasley?” And that was that: a simple, cut to the chase, perfect proposal. It had not been the candlelit dinner engagement he’d imagined, but this was better.

Hermione was stunned beyond words. All she could do was smile and cry until her face felt as if it were about to break. She was so choked up that even a “yes” was impossible to manage, so she settled for nodding her head. Charlie removed the ring from the box and slid it onto her finger, watching her admire and gaze at it.

“I love you,” she finally managed to say, embracing him in a hug.

Eventually she stopped crying, and it also no longer mattered that none of Charlie’s clothes were with them. Even Hermione was completely naked, except for the silver band and diamond on her ring finger. Hermione sighed contentedly to herself as she held him tightly — they were engaged now and she promised herself that for tonight, at least, nothing was going to take him away from her.

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