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Chapter 2

*******

Charlie stood outside an enclosure and watched Louise tend to a wounded dragon. She had worked at the reserve for two weeks now, and she did a good job. The only problem was that she didn’t open up to anyone. She talked to him and the others in the team, but kept her distance. Charlie had accepted the fact that she needed time to open up, but it bothered him. He knew that it was important to know your co-workers; sometimes you had to act fast when there was no time for talking, and at such times it was important to know your co-workers well enough to know that you could trust each other and work well together without needing to talk.

He had decided to take matters into his own hands. Tonight their team would have a party, and now he was going to try and persuade Louise to come. Then she would have an opportunity to talk to him their other co-workers. Satisfied with his decision he entered the enclosure and walked up to her and the dragon.

"Hi. How’s it going?"

Louise gasped and turned around.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you," Charlie apologized.

"That's all right. And she'll be fine. She just needs to rest for a few days."

"Good. Listen, our team is going to have a party tonight, and we would really like you to come. It would be a good opportunity to get to know us better."

Louise hesitated for a few seconds."I don't know..."

"We're hoping you'll come," Charlie said in an attempt to persuade her. "There'll be drink and food and music everything."

"Well... I'm not really in the mood for a party..."

"Tell you what, you've got until seven o' clock. I'll come by your room then to see if you have changed your mind." Charlie looked at his watch. Twelve twenty-five. He was supposed to meet Paul in five minutes; they were going to check on a dragon that had just come to the reserve.

"I've got to go now, but I'll see you at seven." He did not care about that she hesitated; he would make sure that she would come to the party and have a good time.

*******

Louise spent the rest of the afternoon thinking about the conversation with Charlie. She didn’t really want to go to the party since she hardly knew anybody. She would probably just end up in a corner all by herself, and that wasn’t what she wanted. Then she’d rather stay in her room.

At five minutes to seven there was a knock on her door. She suspected that it was Charlie, and as she opened the door it turned out that she was right. He leaned against the door-frame, smiling at her.

"Hello there! Are you ready?"

"Well, no, not really."

"Look... if you really don't want to it's okay." Charlie's facial expression was suddenly serious. "I’m not forcing you, but we’d really like you to come."

Charlie seemed to tell the truth, and Louise decided to give it a try. If the party turned out to be dull she could just quietly sneak back to her room, as long as she showed up at least for a while.

"All right."

The smile was immediately back on Charlie's face. "Great! Let's go then."

After gathering her keys and locking the door Louise followed Charlie, who led her to the outskirts of the reserve. When they had walked for fifteen minutes he pointed towards a big two-storied house in front of them.

"This is where we have our parties, fancy dinners and such."

Louise followed him inside, and was met by the others in the team. Someone put a glass in her hand containing a drink that tasted of alcohol, and she drank while being pulled by Charlie towars a long table containing food. Soon the party was in full swing, and to her surprise she enjoyed herself. If it was the amount of drinks she consumed or the fact that people talked to her a lot she didn’t know, but when Charlie asked her if she regretted that she had come she shook her head.

He smiled and put his arm around her shoulders. "That's what I told you! I've got to get some air, you coming?"

“Yeah.”

Still with his arm casually wrapped around her shoulders Louise followed Charlie out onto the balcony. He tightened his grip around her when she shivered slightly.

“Cold?”

“A little.” The cool air had quickly made its way through her trousers and thin shirt.

He rubbed her back. “Better?”

“Yeah, thanks.”

They remained out on the balcony for a while before rejoining the others inside. At one thirty Louise decided that it was time to go to bed, and she was accompanied by a couple of others back to the barracks. Content she went to bed. Maybe this job wouldn’t be so bad after all.

*******

Bill stood in front of his mirror, straightening his clothes.

"Looking very good!" the mirror said approvingly.

"Thanks."

Bill was about to go to a party, and he looked forward to it. Todd, one of his best friends and co workers, had turned 28 and had invited him to his birthday party. However, as much as Bill enjoyed spending time with Todd and his other friends, there was something special that made him look forward to this party. Namely Yasmin. He had decided to make a move tonight.
He took out his wand and apparated to Tod's place. As he arrived he searched for his friend and soon found him talking to a couple of their other co workers.

"Bill! Great to see you man!" Tod exclaimed, handing Bill a bottle of Butterbeer. Bill took it.

"Hey, how's it going?"

"Everything's great!" Nods from the others confirmed this. "I'm sorry, but I have to tend to my duties as host of this party. Talk to you later!"

Todd made his way around the room, talking to people along the way. Bill went off in search for Yasmin, and a couple of minutes later he spotted her. She stood in a corner talking to Lars, another co-worker, and Bill let his eyes linger on her for a couple of seconds. She wore a pair of black, tight fitting Muggle trousers and a green top, and her long, black hair was hanging loosely down her back.

Bill made his way towards them, exchanging a few words with a couple of other friends on the way. When he approached his goal Lars and Yasmin noticed him.

"Hey man!" Lars greeted him. "Ready to party?"

"You bet! Cheers!" Bill lifted his Butterbeer-bottle.

"Cheers!" Yasmin and Lars said in unison. They drank and talked for a while before Lars excused himself and left Bill and Yasmin to themselves.

"Want to dance?" Bill asked, silently praying that she would say yes.

"Yes, as a matter of fact I do," Yasmin replied, and gave him a smile that made butterflies invade Bill's stomach.

Together they made their way into the living room, where Todd had set up a dance floor. People were already dancing, and Bill and Yasmin joined them. They danced for a while, talked to co-workers and drank some more until Yasmin declared that she needed some fresh air. Bill saw his chance, and followed her outside. This was the Moment he had been waiting for. He knew it, and he also knew that he had to make the best of it. He turned to face her.

"You know, I don't really feel like going back inside." And that was true. He had only gone to the party to see her, and now that she was with him out there he couldn’t care less about dancing, drinking and spending time with their other co-workers.

"Why not?"

"I don't know... I didn't really want to come here in the first place."

"William Weasley, you surprise me. You're not the one to turn down a good party."

"Maybe not. But right now I just don't feel like partying."

"Want to go somewhere?" Yasmin still looked out over the city, not at him.

"Do you have any place special in mind?"

"No. Do you?"

Yes, your place or mine. "No, not really."

"Have you been to Muggle Cairo a lot?"

"No, I can't say that I have."

"Then let's go."

Bill let Yasmin lead the way as they made their way downtown. "Do you know a lot about Muggle Cairo?"

"Quite a few things actually. I'm Muggleborn, remember."

"Oh, yeah, I forgot."

They spent the next two hours strolling around Cairo. Yasmin showed Bill lots of interesting places, and he really enjoyed himself. He had waited for a chance to be alone with her, and now when it had come he didn’t want the night to end.

"I've got one last thing to show you," Yasmin said, and grabbed his hand. Bill had no idea where they were going, but he did not complain. If this last thing involved holding hands he would be the last one to protest.

Yasmin took him with her to a park. Bill didn’t even know that there was a park in the middle of the city.

"I come here when I need to think," Yasmin said, sitting down under a large tree.

Bill sat down beside her. "It's a good thinking spot," he agreed.

It was so peaceful. Even though he could hear the sounds from the city it somehow seemed as if he and Yasmin were the only two people in the world. They were completely alone in the park, and Bill looked at the woman beside him. She sat with her eyes closed and a small smile on her lips, and Bill slowly raised his right hand and caressed her cheek. Yasmin opened her eyes, her smile suddenly gone.

The next thing he knew Yasmin took hold of his hand, and Bill laced fingers with her. As in slow motion he saw her move closer to him, and suddenly her lips brushed against his. Bill put his free arm around her waist, and she put an arm around his neck. Deepening the kiss she lay down on the grass and pulled him with her, and they spent a few minutes just kissing. Bill could have spent the entire night like that, in her arms, but eventually Yasmin broke away.

"I'll never be able to be here without thinking about you from now on. You realise that, don't you?"

"Is that good or bad?"

Yasmin smiled. "Definitely good," she said and kissed him again.

Half an hour later they decided that it was time to leave the garden. Hand in hand they strolled through Cairo once again, and Bill wondered what would happen now. Did she want to spend the rest of the night with him? Should he ask?

Soon they were standing outside his house.

"So..." said, not letting go of his hand, "I guess this is you."

"So it seems."

"I better go. I've had a great time, and I don't want to spoil it."

Bill was about to protest and say that it would not spoil the night if she followed him inside, but apparently she had made up her mind.

She kissed his left cheek. "Would you like to have a drink or something after work on Monday?"

"I'd love to." It came out a little more enthusiastically than Bill had intended it to, but that didn’t matter.

"See you on Monday then. Good night."

"Good night." Bill hugged her and was about to give her a goodnight kiss, but she was too quick for him. She gave him a peck on the lips before disentangling herself.

"See you," she said before disapparating with a crack.

"See you." Bill turned and walked towards his tent. He had really had a great time tonight, and if she had wanted to he would have loved to take her home.

*******

Nikki had worked at the restaurant for a couple of weeks. She had learned the routines, and liked the job. Of course the hours weren’t really friendly, but it was worth it. Mostly she slept until ten or eleven, wich made up for the late nights. And she enjoyed her job. It was different from anything she had done before, and a great experience. Besides, Mike and Christine had begun to teach her Arabic.

Now it was afternoon, and Nikki helped Mike to prepare for that night's guests.

"Nikki, could you run down to the market?" Mike asked. "We need more vegetables."

"Yes, sir!" Nikki said, saluting.

Mike laughed and handed her some money, and Nikki went to get the needed vegetables. There were a lot of people in the streets, and she zigzagged her way through the crowd. Now there was just one street corner to turn before she would be at the market place, and.... She collided with someone coming from the opposite direction. Nikki fell and landed on her back.

"I'm so sorry, are you all right?"

Nikki looked up to see who had caused her to fall. A young man hunched beside her, looking genuinely concerned, and that made her forget about what she was going to say to whoever it was who had knocked her to the ground.

"I'm fine."

He rose and extended a hand. "Here, let me help you."

Nikki took it, and he helped her to her feet. "Thanks." Now she had a chance to look more closely at this young man. He was definitely good looking, she decided that right away. The first thing she noticed was that he was tall; his red hair was pulled back into a ponytail; he wore clothes that could fit a rock star and an earring that looked like some sort of tooth. Nikki decided that it must be a sharks tooth.

"I'm sorry. I was in a hurry and I didn't pay any attention to where I was going," he apologized again. "You're not hurt?"

"No, I'm okay. Are you all right?"

"Yeah, nothing broken."

"Good. And thanks for helping me up."

"Don't mention it. By the way, what's your name?"

"Nicole."

"It was nice talking to you, Nicole. Maybe we'll see each other again."

"Yeah, maybe we will. Take care."

"You too."

They smiled briefly at each other before walking in opposite directions. Nikki doubted that they would ever see each other again, but it had been kind of him to stop and make sure that she was okay.

That night the restaurant had its usual amount of guests that could be expected on a Friday night. Nikki hurried to and fro between the kitchen and the eating area. Sometimes she would like a Friday or Saturday night off, but she worked at weekends since the restaurant had more guests then than during weekdays.

"Nikki, could you find a table for those guests please," Mike said, pointing to a company that had just entered the restaurant. Nikki hurried over to them, and spotted a tall guy with red hair pulled back into a ponytail. Briefly she wondered where she had seen him before, but then she realised that it was the guy who had knocked her over earlier that afternoon.

"Welcome, a table for seven?"

"Yes please please," one of the girls answered.

"Follow me please."

Nikki showed them to a table, and as they sat down the red-haired guy with the ponytail turned to her and smiled apologetically. "Hi, I thought I recognized you. Sorry for what happened earlier.”

"Oh, don't worry. I'm not upset," Nikki answered, returning the smile. "I'll be right back with your menus."

She handed them one menu each, and soon they were ready to order. Nikki brought them their food as well, and sneaked glances at the guy from time to time. It was hard not to look at him. His clothes, the earring, the ponytail... everything about him made her look twice.

He and his friends seemed to have great time. Nikki could hear laughter from their table, and she wondered what they were talking about. Unfortunately they talked in hushed voices, heads closely together, so it was impossible to hear what they were discussing.

A couple of hours later they asked for the check. As they were about to leave Bill said something to the others, who smiled and left. Then Bill approached Nikki.

"Hey. How's it going?"

"Oh, just fine. No problems so far."

"Listen... I know this sounds strange, but I'm really sorry about knocking you over like that, and I was wondering if I could make it up to you. Would you like to go out for a drink or something? My treat, of course."

At first Nikki said nothing. Was this man asking her out for a drink just because they had collided in the street earlier?

“Hold on... I don’t even know your name.”

He quickly extended his hand. “Sorry. Bill Weasley.”

She shook it. “Nice to meet you, Mr Weasley.”

“It’s Bill. And you’re Nicole?”

”Nikki Rogers.”

“Nice to meet you, Nikki. Look, I’m sorry for asking. I understand if you dont want to, but I just thoughd I’d ask.”

Nikki looked at the man in front of her. She really shouldn’t accept, but looking into his eyes she decided that she wanted to go out for a drink with him. Something about those eyes made her trust him.

"That would be nice. Although you don't have to do this."

"I know, but... So, when would be a good time for you?"

"I don't know. I'll ask my Aunt if I can take a night off. How about Tuesday next week?"

"That would be great."

"Let me just go ask my Aunt, wait here."

Nikki went off in search of Aunt Christine and found her in the kitchen. "Aunt Christine... do you think I can take Tuesday night off? I've been asked out on a date."

"By who? When?"

"Just now, by one of the guests. You know, the tall red haired guy who knocked me over earlier today. He wants to take me out for a drink to make it up to me."

"You can take the night off, we don't have that much to do on Tuesdays anyway."

"Thanks!" Nikki hugged her Aunt before returning to Bill.

"Tuesday is okay," she told him.

"Great! How about I pick you up at your house at, say, eight o'clock?"

Nikki did not really want to tell him the address. Who knew what he could do once he knew where she lived. "Why don't we meet outside the restaurant? Would that be okay?"

"Okay, then I'll be here on Tuesday, at eight o' clock," Bill promised. "See you then."

"See you."

Nikki watched him turn and walk out. Eight o’ clock on Tuesday. She didn’t really know why she had accepted. She normally did not date guys she didn’t know, but what was it about Bill Weasley that that made her break that rule?

*******

Charlie sat down at the desk in his room, grabbed a piece of parchment and dipped his quill in
ink. Just then he was interrupted by a soft knock on the door.

"It's open!"

The door swung open, and Louise appeared in the doorway. Since the party she had come to his room a couple of times just to chat, and Charlie was satisfied with the way things had progressed. She seemed less shy, and talked more to him and their co-workers.

"Hi. Are you busy, or can I come in?"

"No, make yourself at home. I was just writing my report, but that can wait."

"Are you sure? If you need to do that I can go again."

"No, it's okay, really. I can finish it tomorrow. Now come in and have a seat."

Louise stepped inside and closed the door behind her. She sat down on the bed, and Charlie remained in the chair by the desk.

"Did you want anything?" he asked.

"No, I just... I was bored, and I thought... I hoped you wouldn't mind if I came by."

"No, of course not. Otherwise I would be stuck with this boring report."

He was rewarded by a small smile.

An hour and a half passed before they decided to call it a day. Charlie laughed when Louise yawned and stretched.

"Tired?"

"I had planned to go to bed an hour ago. Shame on you to keep me awake like this."

"You were the one who came and knocked on my door, no the other way around," Charlie pointed out.

"So does that mean shame on me instead?"

"Definitely. Now go to bed, and sleep well."

"Goodnight, see you tomorrow."

"Goodnight."

*******

"So you asked her out for a drink just because you had knocked her over earlier that day?"

"Yes! And now I don't even know why! An apology would have been enough, but I still asked her out for a drink. Even though I have the hots for Yasmin!"

It was Saturday, and Bill was telling Tod about Nikki. The two friends were on their way from Bill's place to Tod's, where they were to meet a couple of friends. They had planned to have an all boys night, and Bill looked forward to it.

"Well, as long as you and Nikki are just friends I don't think that there will be a problem. It's not like you're going to marry her or something," Tim said.

"No. Anyway, don't tell Yasmin about it. I don't want her to get upset."

"I won't. So what does this mysterious Muggle girl look like?"

"She is quite tall, and she's got blond hair with red highlights and a big, friendly smile. She looks really good." Bill had never been good at describing people, but did his best.

Tod grinned. "Now I know why you asked her out for a drink."

Bill raised his eyebrows. "Is that all you think about?"

"As a matter of fact it is."

"I'm glad I'm not a girl. I don't have to have you drooling all over me."

"Don't be too sure about that. I might find out that I prefer men and fall deeply in love with you."

"Then I'll just have to deal with that when the time comes."

Tod put an arm around Bill's shoulders. "Well... the thing is... the time has already come."

Laughing the two men walked on, and a couple of minutes later they stood outside Tim's tent.

*******

Nikki was on the phone with her best friend, Charlotte. She was allowed to call her family and friends if she paid for the amount of time she spent on the phone, and now she really needed someone to talk to. She knew that the call would be expensive, but she just had to tell someone about her meeting with the mysterious Bill Weasley.

"So you just accepted when this guy you don't know at all asked you out for a drink?" Charlotte asked. Nikki could hear that she was shocked.

"Yes! And you know I've never done something like that before! I don't know what got into me. If it was that I was so surprised or something."

"Well... just be careful. And he did seem nice, didn't he?"

"Yes, he did. And did I mention he's good-looking?"

The girls giggled.

"Just make sure that you don't follow him home or something," Charlotte warned.

"No Mother, I won't."

"There's a good girl. Listen, I have to go, but I want a report after your date. Okay?"

"I'll make sure you'll get one. Bye."

"Bye, take care."

"I will. Bye."

Nikki hung up and went upstairs to her room. Talking to Charlotte didn’t help very much since she still didn’t know why exactly she had said yes when Bill asked her out for a drink. The old Nikki wouldn’t have accepted an offer like that from someone she didn’t know, but somehow Bill had been different. She couldn’t pinpoint why, he just was. And besides, she would not spend any time alone with him. She reckoned that it would be safe if she made sure that there were a lot of people around.

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