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Dearest Brother,

We know how anxious you always are to try our new products (at this he scoffed) and so we’ve sent our newest to you.  It’s rather a lot like a gumball, so by simply chewing it you will be thrown into a daydream of your wildest fantasies!  The catch?  Just write us back and tell us how it was.  Thanks.

Forge and Gred

Charlie closed the letter from his brothers with a small smile.  What they wouldn’t come up with.  The gumball simply shone back at him, deep violet in the light of the candle set upon his desk.  Charlie tapped the ball curiously, slightly suspicious.,   It was a Weasley Twin product after all.  Still, Charlie reasoned, there was no reason not to try it out, and so he popped it into his mouth.

A screech outside his tent alerted Charlie to the arrival of a rather official looking owl.  Sighing he opened the flap of his tent and let the bird in.  He took the letter from its leg, noting it was a letter from the Romanian Ministry of Magic.  It was an emergency, the letter claimed.  Their delegate who was to represent them at the British Ministry of Magic had been rendered ill with a nasty dragon bite.  And he was to fill in.  Being the second in command and easily the most knowledgeable of the dragon keepers, he would have to attend a brief gala in which he would promote dragon rights and so forth.  But it was the last bit that had Charlie swearing and scrambling to pack his things.  The gala was tonight.

There was a long line for the Floo Network.  Usually it wasn’t so busy on a Tuesday morning, but then maybe Charlie was just anxious to get back to the U.K.  And at least the Floo line was only half as long as the one for the Portkey’s, even if Charlie would have to sit down for ten minutes after he had reached the U.K. by Floo.  And it was really his only option; last time Charlie Apparated, not only had he been missing both his eyebrows, but he’d ended up in Dublin.

Charlie shook his head and stepped up to the large brick fireplace.  “Ministry of Magic, Britain.”  Suddenly the world was whirling around him unrelentingly, and Charlie had to close his eyes and just hope that he would end up in the correct grate.  After several minuets of being tossed around, Charlie felt himself gradually slowing down and he cracked open his eyes so that he could land on his feet.  As his feet touched the ground, Charlie stumbled out of the fireplace into the lobby of the Ministry.

Charlie stumbled over to one of the couches set out for those who found themselves dizzy from their journey.  As his world stopped spinning, Charlie was pleased to find he was still clutching his overnight bag.  After a few more minutes of watching people stumble out of the fireplace and sit down next to him, Charlie figured he was well enough to leave.

As he passed by the large fireplace, a small scream caught Charlie’s attention.  He turned to the fireplace just in time for a small woman to stumble into his arms.  She seemed vaguely familiar, but Charlie couldn’t quite place her.  She was extremely dizzy, and every time she attempted to stand up, she would sway and fall back into Charlie’s arms.  Charlie helped her over to a chair and the women brushed back her dark hair and looked up at him.  She was fairly pale, and the dark of her hair and eyes stood out starkly against her features.  Charlie was suddenly nervous.

The woman seemed to be taking him in as well, his numerous freckles that added to his tanned skin, his fiery red hair just brushing his collar, and his deep blue eyes.  He watched, amused, as embarrassment clouded her face, and then, surprisingly, recognition.  “Th-thank you,” she stuttered out.  She glanced at him again before inquiring, “Charlie Weasley?”

Charlie barely registered his shock before he grinned.  “I see my reputation precedes me.”  She laughed and is resounded like the tinkle of bells.  Charlie’s smile heightened for a moment, before he asked, “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”

She blushed slightly and said, “Hogwarts.  But I was a first year when you were a seventh.”

“Oh.  Still, you seem rather familiar.  Sorry, what’s your name?”

"Cho Chang.”

“Oh!”  Of course.  She was Cedric Diggory’s ex-girlfriend.  And Harry’s, Charlie recalled.  “So what brings you to the Ministry?”

“I work here now.  Actually, I help your father with Muggle things.”  Charlie’s laugh made Cho smile, and she asked, “Are you going to the gala tonight?”

“Is it that big?  Yes, I’m filling in for the Romanian Dragon Keeper.”  There was a few moments of silence while Charlie tried to fix his courage.

He was about to ask Cho to lunch when she stood up.  “Er, well I have to go now, Charlie (he loved how she said his name).  Well, I’ll see you tonight then.”  And she had smiled at him and left before Charlie could say anything else.  Charlie sighed and stood up from where he’d been kneeling.  He figured he’d see his father later and instead checked in with a secretary at the front and Apparated to The Burrow.

His mother was in the family room knitting.  Charlie crept up behind her and covered her eyes.  “Guess who?”

”Charlie!”  He hugged her in affirmation, and Molly screamed delightedly, dropping her needles and yarn to the ground as she flew off the couch to hug her son.  “What are you doing here?  Are you hungry?  You look a bit thin, dear.  Are you eating enough in Romania?”

Charlie laughed and hugged his mother again.  “I’m filling in for another dragon keeper who was supposed to go to the gala.  Yes I am, and I’m eating fine Mother.”  Mrs. Weasley led him into the kitchen and asked him what he’d like.  “Some fried chicken would be nice,” Charlie answered.  Of course Molly set to work making it, she didn’t see Charlie enough to say no.  “I’m just going to put these in my room,” Charlie called to her.  “And lie down for a bit.”

“I’ll call you when it’s ready,” Mrs. Weasley replied, rolling a drumstick in flour and black pepper.

Charlie walked slowly up the stairs to his room, taking in all the slight differences in the Burrow.  He set his bag on the floor and flopped onto his bed, taking comfort in the soft mattress and crisp, clean sheets.  Charlie sniggled his head onto his pillow and wished Bill was there to talk to and duel with.  As Charlie lay there, Cho wandered into his mind.  Charlie shook his head.  She was beautiful, of course, but he lived in Romania for goodness sakes.  And besides, Charlie recalled, Harry said she was probably still pretty hung up on Cedric.  Charlie stared up at his ceiling, a mural of dragons.  It had been years since he’d had a serious girlfriend.  A lot of the time Charlie was far too busy to go out on dates with a girl and so they lost patience and called it quits.  And truth be told, Charlie was kind of weary about getting in a relationship too seriously.  The last girl he’d fallen in love with ran off with one of the other Dragon Keepers, and Charlie never thought he’d live down the shame.  At least he finally understood all those pitying looks his co-workers had been giving him for weeks.

“Charlie!”  His food was ready, and in response Charlie’s stomach rumbled loudly.  Picking himself slowly off the bed, the smell of his food making his mouth water, Charlie dashed down the stairs by twos and practically ran into the kitchen.  There was a large plateful, and Mrs. Weasley explained, “Your father should be home soon.”

As if on cue, Arthur Weasley stepped though the front door of his house and into the kitchen.  Seeing his son there, Arthur’s face broken into a large grin.  “Merlin!  Charlie, what are you doing here?”

Charlie walked over to his dad and hugged him.  “Filling in for one of my co-workers. Are you going to the gala?”

“Yes.  There are a lot of muggle borns there and they are lovely to talk to about all these new muggle objects I’ve just got.  Molly, that looks delicious!”

The three of them sat down to eat and spent time catching up.  No, he didn’t have a girlfriend or know what to do with a computer, and he’d only be staring for the night.  The dragons were doing fine, a few of the mothers’ eggs hatched this past month and were getting difficult to manage, but other than that the little dragon babies were fairly cute, if not dangerous.  The sun had set before Arthur finally suggested they go get ready for the gala.  Molly decided no to come, so it would just be Charlie and his father.

So Charlie went upstairs, took a quick shower and changed into his formal dress roves.  He ran a brush through his hair and took a look in the mirror.  “You look stunning, dear,” it told him.  Charlie took the word of the mirror and went downstairs.

“We’re going to Apparate,” Arthur told him.  “No point in getting all dusty.”  And so with a kiss to his mother, Charlie and his father Apparated to the Ministry of Magic.

The gala was being geld in the lobby, which had been transformed to seat many people on large circular tables.  The Weasley men were on of the earlier ones, and so they took a seat at one of the center tables and watched as the others filed in.  Charlie listened disinterestedly as his father rambled on about Ministry workers, but sat up a little straighter when she entered the room.

It was wintertime, so the lobby was embellished with ice sculptures and fairies and several large Christmas Trees.  Baubles hung suspended in the air, and the ceiling was enchanted to snow.  Cho was wearing a dark blue set of dress robes over a matching gown.  Charlie felt his mouth go dry.  “Ah, that young woman there,” Arthur was telling Charlie, “Cho Chang.  Sweet girl, knows an awful lot of things about muggles.  Charming girl.  Cho!”

His father was calling her over, why was he calling her over?!  Charlie fidgeted nervously in his chair and ran a hand through his hair.  “Hello Mr. Weasley.  Charlie.”  She smiled nervously at the latter, self consciously adjusting her robes.  She looked around the room.  It was thick with all sorts of Ministry employees from all different countries, and Cho felt quite alone.  “Do you mind if I sit with you?” she asked, gesturing to the chair next to Charlie.

“Not at all,” he replied.  Charlie stood up and pulled out the chair for Cho.  She smiled at his chivalrous act.

“Oh, there’s Winston.  If you’ll excuse me,” Mr. Weasley said, scurrying off to a balding man with a large mustache, and leaving the two at the table.

A silence descended upon them so suffocating that Charlie was tempted to cast the Bubble Head Charm for a breath of fresh air.  Charlie took a breath to calm his nerves and forced out, “So, do you miss Hogwarts?”

At the easy subject Cho seemed to brighten.  “Yes.  Hogwarts was really more home to me than anywhere else.”

“So you played on the Quidditch team?”

“Yes.  I was Ravenclaw’s seeker.”

“Oh!  It really is the best position.  I was Gryffindor’s seeker for a long time.”  Charlie sighed.  “But you probably don’t remember me; you must have been in your first year.”

“Oh, but I do!  You were the most brilliant Qudditich player.  I mean, you inspired me—” Charlie thought it was quite amusing how Cho’s face suddenly turned red and she broke her eye contact with him.  He shifted towards her slightly to gain her attention.

“I’m glad to know that,” Charlie told her quietly.  “I’m honored that you remember me so well.”

Cho smiled shyly up at him.  “Well you were my reason for joining the Quidditch team.”  Now it was Charlie’s turn to flush.  He was close to her now, intimately so, and he could see her dark eye’s glittering up at him, amazed at their varying shades of brown and the occasional flecks of black.

“Yes, see you later Winston,” Arthur’s voice called, his feet pattering back towards to the table.  He wouldn’t have known anything was amiss but for the guilty looks on the faces of his son and co-worker.  “Everything all right?” Arthur asked, glancing between the two.

“Oh, yes, Mr. Weasley, just fine.  Er—I’m going to get some punch then, shall I?” Cho replied, her words slurring together in her haste to excuse herself.

“She’s a lovely girl,” Arthur commented.  “Are you going to ask her to dance?”

“Yes, I—what?” Charlie spluttered, turning to stare at his father.

“They’ve got music playing and people are dancing,” Arthur persisted, nodding at the front of the room where there were indeed people dancing. 

“I, oh all right,” Charlie relented, making his way to where Cho was sipping her punch, in the thick of people yet quite alone.  “And they say Mum is the only matchmaker,” Charlie muttered, sending one last dagger at his father, yet all the while feeling that nercous sort of happiness that comes with fancying someone.  Charlie made his way over to Cho and held his hand out to her.  “May I have this dance?”

Cho’s surprised look was quickly replaced by one of that same nervous joy Charlie was sporting.  “Of course.”

Charlie led her to the dance floor and they finished up the fast tempo song, and nercoulsy adjusted each other’s arms as a slow song came on.  The self-consciousness slowly melted away as they grew more comfortable in each other’s embrace and they song dragged on until Charlie was sure that it was only him and Cho in the room, swaying to the slow melody. 

They msut have danced longer than they were aware of, because the room was clearing out, and there was that sense of impending disappointment; he’d have to go home and back to Romania the next day.  But Cho felt so perfect against him, her soft hair brushing against his hands and Charlie didn’t want to open his eyes.  But there are those strange forces in life that compel a person to do things they don’t want to, things they absolutely have no want or reason for, other than the fact that they know they should.

Charlie slowly opened his eyes, the dark blue of her dress swimming in this vision for a moment before they slowly focused and Charlie moaned and rubbed his eyes.  The dark blue was still staring back at him, and for a moment Charlie just sat there and stared back.  Then the owl gave a hoot and walked across the table to dip its beak into Charlie’s cup of water.

A sinking feeling assaulted Charlie and he ran a hand across his face.  He stopped as he noticed the letter from Fred and Geroge.  Charlie glared at it for a moment, hating the gumball for allowing him such a vivid daydream…a daydream that might still happen.  After all, he was long overdue for a trip home.  Charlie searched around for a bit of parchment and a quill.

Fred, George,

Bloody brilliant as ever.  Though I must say, you’re after effects, namely the fact that we’re cruelly ripped away from out fantast, is nothing short of cruel.  I’ll be visiting home by the time you get this.  See you there.


A/N: Very odd pairing, I know, but I was struck by the idea that maybe Cho was inspired by Charlie to play Quiddditch.  Anyway, here's to one more chapter.  Sorry it took so long, I've been playing around with other ideas, and haven't been struck with inspiration lately.  Please let me know what you thought of this :]  Thanks again to Abyssica for the image <33

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