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Charlie Weasley glanced over at the most mind boggling woman he'd even seen as she took the Ukranian Ironbelly’s temperature. Despite being the gnarliest dragon this side of Romania, her gentle temperament soothed its temperament. Even he, one of the better dragon keepers on Balaur Reserve for Dislocated Dragons, couldn't calm the dragons the way she could.

“Calm yourself, Sparky!” She chided the gigantic, vicious dragon in her thick Austrian accent when it hissed flames of aggravation at the mild discomfort of the thermometer.

He liked the way she chided the dragon. Such a massive, dangerous creature that demanded respect and she was chastising it like a disobedient toddler.

She wiped the sweat from her glistening brow with the back of her hand and caught his gaze, giving him a lopsided grin. He lived for those lopsided grins.

Because you're tirelessly driven, I love you.

She smacked the dragon on the bottom affectionately before telling the rest of the dragonologists she was heading out for lunch.

Charlie followed her to the Reserve’s cafeteria, keeping enough distance between them to not be creepy, but close enough to still be able to admire her. She was eating something she called vanillerostbraten, a favorite dish of hers from back home. He had tried it once at the Reserve potluck in June. It was quite garlicky.

She slowly diced the beef, discussing the newborn dragon she'd be nurturing after lunch with another dragonologist. She waved her fork in the air as she spoke, gesticulating as wildly as she was passionate. She loved the baby dragons most.

Because you're endlessly excitable, I love you.

He checked that his dragonhide gloves were clean and intact. Baby dragons typically didn't like getting their vaccines and he would no doubt be leaving the nursery with a few good burns. He rearranged the needles by tip diameter, knowing that it was usually easiest to start with the smallest needles first.

She was in a chair, rocking the emerald dragon back and forth, swaddled in dragonhide like a human baby. She held a bottle filled with pulsated arthropods in a nutrient broth. The dragon’s six eyelids flickered open and closed as a full belly lulled it to sleep. He opened his mouth to say something, perhaps to tell her he was there to give the dragon its vaccines, but she pressed a finger to her lips. She sang quietly, slightly off key to the dragon.

“Ach, du lieber Augustin, Augustin, Augustin,
Ach, du lieber Augustin, Alles ist hin!”

He liked the way her lips painstakingly enunciated Augustin and the way they curled at the edges when the dragon let out a little yawn of exhaustion. For a long moment Charlie felt a burning jealousy, as fiery as the breath of the dragon in her arms. What he wouldn't give to trade places with it. What he wouldn't give for the same proximity. For the same affectionate looks to be directed at him. He dismissed the ugliness of his heart as foolishness though.

Because you’re naturally nurturing, I love you.

With the dragon finally asleep he slipped the first needle through two sparkling scales, pushing the plunger slowly. The remaining four shots were given just as slowly, careful not to wake the sleeping dragon. Or tickle it.

He left the nursery reluctantly, called away by an intern for an emergency examination. He hurried behind the intern down the hallway, to the left, and then outside across from the Hungarian Horntail enclosure.

“What have we got here?” Charlie asked the intern. Then he realized what he was looking at. A Peruvian Vipertooth much too large for the rickety cage it was in. Rage swelled in his heart and in that moment he was sure he was capable of an Unforgivable. Scales were rotted off, black and brown with decay. Instead of plumes of smoke billowing from each nostril, the dragon’s nose was freezing cold to the touch, riddled with disease and mistreatment.

This dragon must have been a novelty for a dragon dealer. The moment they become bigger than the average domestic dog, dealers try to ditch them in alleyways or throw them out in forests. They've never learned how to be a dragon so most die within days.

“WHERE WAS HE FOUND?” Charlie demanded, visibly frightening the intern. Charlie absently touched the rotting scales, trying to gauge the extent of the decay.

“I—I don't know!” The intern stammered searching frantically for the information on the chart. Charlie snatched the chart from the intern, scanning the document. He'd go to the village and he'd find the monster that did this and make them pay. The chart quivered in his hands because he was unable to hold in his fury.

Suddenly he felt a small palm press against his arm and forced himself to take a deep breath.

“We all feel the same way. We aren't the enemy. The important thing is that the dragon is safe here with us. Don't waste your talent on one lowlife. Fifty more will take their place.” She told him with the kind smile he'd learned to love.

Because you see the worst part of me and still smile, I love you.

With the day ending both too soon and not soon enough, the dragonologists of Balaur Reserve for Dislocated Dragons popped down to their favorite local watering hole. Charlie was two pints in before a clanging resonated on a pint glass. He looked to the noise, as did the rest of the bar. An announcement was made. Congratulations were in order! Yet another couple on the Reserve would be having a child. It would only be a few days before she announced her retirement under the generic statement that it was too dangerous now that they had children to think of. It had been said again and again by those foolish enough to fall in love. In this line of work there could only be one. A career or a family.

He glanced over at her, recognizing the forlorn look. He'd overheard her telling another coworker that she could hear her biological clock ticking and tocking. She was terrified one day she'd wake up and realize she'd chosen wrong. He wanted to comfort her, to reassure her she still had plenty of time. She could have both if she wanted both. He couldn't do so without admitting to eavesdropping. The look vanished as quickly as it had appeared and she was congratulating the couple, hugging them tightly.

Because even when you confront your deepest fears you still raise your chin defiantly, I love you.

Charlie thought that with all of this liquid courage in his system, with all these happy feelings of the prospect of new life, maybe tonight could be the night he'd finally ask her to be his. Maybe tonight could change everything. He went to the bar to ask the bartender for one more drink for good luck. The burn of the alcohol set his heart alight. He turned around, determined to make tonight the night, only to be told she decided to call it an early night and head back to the Reserve. He sat his empty glass on the counter and sighed in relief. He'd do it the next opportunity he had.

Because you give me courage without knowing you're doing it, I love you.

A/N: thank you to my favorite Austrian for all of her insight and inspiration for this story! You're the best Jo! The title of the story and the “Because, I love you” bits are inspired by the adorable Austrian song “Weilst a Herz hast wie a Bergwerk” by Rainhard Fendrich and the nursery rhyme was a folk song called “Ach, du lieber Augustin” by Marx Augustin. According to the legend of the song he was asleep and drunk on his way home and gravediggers though he was dead and dumped him and a bunch of other dead people into a grave with his bagpipe and he couldn't get out so he played the bagpipe until someone heard him and saved him. Just a random side bit. Thanks for reading!! xx

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