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11 August 2008 @ 05:50 pm
Weasley Fest Fic  

Now that the reveals are up, here's the story I wrote for the Weasley Fest. The wonderful

kath_ballantyne made art for it, called Seeking Something, which is amazing and all kinds of wonderful!  Not to mention the first piece of art anyone has ever done for any of my stories.  *grins*  Go look at the pretty picture and give her well-deserved appreciation.

Title: In The Shed with a Shooting Star
Author: inkvoices 
Gift For: </a></font></b></a>kath_ballantyne
Rating:
Length: 7, 438 words
Pairing(s): Charlie Weasley/Harry Potter
Disclaimer: The Harry Potter 'verse belongs to JK Rowling.
Summary: Maybe Charlie denies his attraction for underage boys rather than the fact that he likes blokes, but his friends and family don’t mind hitting him over the head with a blunt object (metaphorically, of course) until he realises the obvious.
Warnings: attraction towards underage people, but not acted on; some swearing; relationships between two men (if that's not your thing)
Author's/Artist's notes: Many thanks to C, for the chats, and star54kar, for organising this fest and dealing with hassle-causing authors :o)

Happy Weasley Fest </a></font></b></a>kath_ballantyne! I don't know if this is really what you asked for, but I hope you enjoy it.

 

In The Shed with a Shooting Star

They call it The Shed, although really it's a stone outhouse. Dad always says that it was built by Muggles long before The Burrow was constructed nearby, but it has touches of magic, like the broom racks lining the walls held in place with Permanent Sticking Charms.

Charlie runs a hand over a couple of handles. The Cleansweep One still has dried mud in its twigs, which is probably Fred's fault, the Swiftstick needs polishing and the two Cleansweep Fours are looking a little worse for wear. He smiles at the dusty Shooting Star 76 in the furthest rack. That make has a tendency to lose speed and height as it ages, and the Star had been Bill's first broom – a going-to-Hogwarts, birthday and Christmas present rolled into one, with enough sentimental value that no one has the heart to throw the useless thing away.

A figure blocks the light coming through the open door, then throws itself forward and flings its arms around his waist. "Charlie! I didn't know you were back yet."

Charlie laughs and tickles his little sister's stomach. If they were outside he would lift her up and swing her around, but there isn't enough space inside The Shed to swing a kneazle, let alone a Ginny.

"If you didn't know I was back, why are you out here?" he says, shuffling them around so they're both sideways to the door and he can see her grinning face. "Borrowing brooms that aren't yours again, by any chance?"

"Ron, Fred and George went with Dad to get Harry, so, yeah. Does it matter?" She sticks her tongue out at him, then adds, "I clean them better than Fred."

"I've yet to meet anyone who cleans a broom worse than Fred," says Charlie. "Just don't use the Cleansweep Five. The tail's so out of shape on that thing that any dive will only end in a splat."

Ginny rolls her eyes. "I know."

She wraps both of her skinny arms around one of his larger ones as they make their way back outside, laughing as they just manage to squeeze through the door together. It's familiar, until he sees her upturned face in the sunlight and it's older and closer than Charlie remembers from the last time he saw her. He brushes a spider out of her hair playfully and tells himself that she's still his little sister.

"Come on," she says and begins pulling him towards the backdoor. "Bill's in the kitchen and you can meet Harry."

"The famous Harry Potter," says Charlie teasingly.

Ginny rolls her eyes again. "He's nice. Really."

He is.

He's also fourteen.

~*~

"He…touched me." Charlie tried to keep his voice down, but he could have sworn at least half the people in the Common Room were eavesdropping. "He stroked my arm. I didn't 'misinterpret' any 'signals'."

"Well, maybe he likes boys." Tonks leaned her head back against the couch, her pink hair and bright orange eyebrows clashing with each other as well as the faded yellow upholstery, and closed her eyes. She was slouched down, unintentionally showing off the long legs that Charlie blamed for her tendency to trip over every five minutes. "Plenty of people like boys. Me, for example."

"Boys don't like boys," Charlie said, slowly, since Tonks obviously didn't understand the basic facts of life.

"But he's fourteen."

"Tits," said Charlie. "Boys like those, y'know?"

"I mean, it'd be different if you were both fourteen."

"Tits, nipples, other womanly parts. That kind of thing."

"If you jump a fourteen-year-old I'll go all butt-kicking Auror on you."

Charlie paused before poking her in the side of one breast, hard enough that both of them wobbled a bit, to get her attention. "What are you on about?"

Tonks opened her eyes to glare at him and elbowed him in the stomach. "Jumping, Charlie-boy. In the sexual sense. As in 'jumping his bones'."

"I'm not going to touch him back!" His voice rose high enough in volume and pitch to make two fourth-year girls sitting by the fireplace look at him sideways and giggle. "I like tits!"

"Yes, we've established that."

Charlie buried his head in his hands and mumbled pleadingly, "What am I going to do?"

"Shouldn't you be asking a bloke about this?" She tugged on his hair, hard, until he lifted his head up again to look at her.

"I wrote to Bill. He said I should just hit him."

Tonks jerked upright in shock. Her hair and eyebrows became black for an instant before turning redder than Charlie's. "You do not hit in the physical sense people who are hitting on you in the metaphorical sense. You hit people for insults, not compliments!"

"You hit me all the time," Charlie pointed out.

"That's different." She sighed. "Look, tell me again what happened, exactly, from the beginning."

Charlie took a deep breath, then glanced around the crowded room and changed his mind. "Not here. Merlin, is it just me or is everyone listening?"

"Oh, everyone's listening," Tonks replied with a wicked grin. "You didn't think us Hufflepuffs let you hang out in our Common Room out of the goodness of our hearts, just because your House is pissed that you messed up their chances for the Quidditch cup, did you?"

Charlie stared at her, because thinking about the motives of Tonks' Housemates had never really occurred to him. They were Hufflepuffs. He'd assumed that they just let him in because he was friends with one of theirs.

"The less time you spend with your mates, the less likely it is that they'll be able to persuade you to change your mind and take over the Gryffindor Quidditch Team again," she explained, still grinning.

"Wood is the Captain," said Charlie firmly. "I need time to work on my NEWTs and the team needs time to adjust to a new Captain. I wouldn't be Seeker this year either if our House had somebody better than me." He sighed. "I told you all this already."

Tonks shrugged. "Yeah, but still. Some of them think that since you're still the Seeker you might drop a few hints about your team's tactics as well. Accidentally, of course," she added quickly when Charlie glared at her.

"I wouldn't-" he began, but Tonks carried on, talking over him.

"So, Wood. You went to the Team Office because he wanted some advice and he-"

"Not here!"

"Okay." Tonks stood up, straightened her tie and grabbed her robe from where it had been slung over the arm of the couch.

"Hair," said Charlie and, reminded by the prompt, she shifted her hair back to black, which was a 'regulation school colour' according to Professor McGonagall, since it was 'within the spectrum of usual hair colours', and therefore wouldn't cause Tonks to lose House points or, if they were in Potions, gain a detention. (She'd tried white once and McGonagall had altered her litany to 'within the spectrum of usual hair colours for people of your age'.)

"You know," said Tonks, as they headed to the portrait hole, "it is okay for boys to like boys. Like I like different hair colours and that annoys some people, but it's my thing. Get it?"

Charlie didn't, but, aware of people listening, he nodded as if he did until his friend stopped talking.

~*~

The Burrow is tidier than Charlie has ever seen it when he comes home for Bill's wedding, which is almost as bad as his brothers and sister looking and acting older than the idea of them that he has in his mind, but The Shed is still run-down and full of spiders.

"The amount of time you spend in here; you should have been a Quidditch player," Bill tells him as Charlie walks outside and pulls the creaking door shut behind him.

"Dragons are better." Charlie makes a fist and shoves at his brother's shoulder with it good-naturedly, grinning as he catches sight of the dragon fang that Bill still wears in his ear. "How did you manage to escape from Mum without having you hair cut? Especially since it's your wedding day tomorrow and all," he says.

"Charm work, of all kinds," says Bill, squashing a spider on Charlie's outstretched arm and smearing it down to his elbow before Charlie can pull away.

Charlie wipes the back of his arm on his jeans whilst Bill stands there laughing before he turns serious.

"Look," he says, "I just want to say thanks for coming back to be my best man. I know you have a lot going on in Romania right now, and not just dragons."

"I wouldn't miss it," Charlie says, and means it. Family is important to Charlie. He still can't believe that Percy really isn't speaking to anyone and that no one expects him to turn up for Bill's big day.

"We're setting up a kind of safe house," Bill continues as if Charlie hasn't said anything, "under Fidelius and a few other things, if you ever need-"

"No," Charlie says, then adds, "that would be a bad idea," to soften the short refusal.

"Mum's worried about you."

Charlie looks over Bill's shoulder towards The Burrow, specifically the window that shows a brightly lit kitchen and a large group of people moving around inside it. "Mum worries about everyone."

"Yeah, well. Take care of yourself." Bill reaches out and brushes his own fist against Charlie's shoulder, but softer than Charlie had hit his. "And, just so you know, I'm alright that you're never going to get married, that I'll never be your best man, okay?"

It's quiet for a moment whilst Charlie figures this out, then, to his shame, he blushes a bit as he mutters, "I thought everyone had figured that out ages ago."

Bill stretches a hand back behind his head to smooth down his pony tail and looks away. "Well, I'm alright with it."

"Oh." Charlie thinks a bit more and realises that maybe Bill wasn't alright with it before, but he is now, so that's okay then. "No problem," he says, and means it.

~*~

"This was your idea." Charlie meant to whisper it, but the pounding music was so loud that he had to yell, even though his mouth was practically kissing Owen's ear.

"Yeah, but you're the one in that 'special group'," the Welshman yelled back, his fingers making quotation marks in the air around 'special group' and Charlie knew that he meant the Order. "We're just helping out."

One of the tasks that Dumbledore had set Charlie was to try and recruit as many people on the Continent to the Order as possible. Technically Charlie had been unsuccessful, since a grand total of five people had joined their ranks, but in actual fact more people were willing to help the Order than wanted to join it and Charlie couldn't see why they shouldn't be allowed to just because they hadn't sworn an oath. Dumbledore, after cautioning him to keep as much as possible secret from anyone who wasn't a sworn member of the Order, told him to accept whatever help was available that he 'deemed trustworthy'.

Most people in Eastern Europe just wanted to keep their heads down until the Britain-centred storm died down, especially those with families, but Owen's family was in Britain and, although he hadn't wanted his name to catch the attention of any Death Eater that might endanger them, he wanted to do what he could to help.

The third member of the group of Dragon Keepers occupying the corner of the club was sipping his cheap beer whilst surveying the crowded room. Lius, who was from Poland, cited the treatment of his ancestors by the Nazis and his hatred of all 'raving lunatics aspiring to be dictators' as his reason for helping out, but Charlie suspected that the adrenaline rush from their more dangerous 'adventures' had more than a little to do with it as well.

He turned to Charlie and gestured at the men writhing on the dance floor with his drink. "Well, get on with it!" he shouted.

"You're better at the spell," Charlie countered, "why don't you do it?"

"It has to be close. You are the one who likes men!"

A bloke nearby in tight leather trousers smiled and looked Charlie up and down, which made him far more uncomfortable than anything Oliver Wood had done to him back in seventh year, and suddenly Charlie didn't like this plan anymore.

"I saw you watching the Hungarians who brought over the breeding stock last week." It was said that Lius could be riding a dragon, yell at another person riding a dragon and be heard without the use of a sonorous. Charlie had no trouble believing that. For a short, sensibly dressed man, Lius had an embarrassingly loud voice.

"I was watching the dragon!" Charlie protested.

Owen shoved him towards the dancers with a laugh and a yelled, "I hope not!"

The man with leather trousers started coming closer, so Charlie took a deep breath and pushed his way into the crowd. He could feel sweat from other men's arms and a few bare chests rubbing off on his own skin. The smell of smoke and a dozen different aftershaves along with the sweat, and the pulsing music, made his head swim.

Eventually he spotted his quarry: a sallow, skinny man only a little taller than Charlie with dark hair and dark eyes. Charlie moved in behind him, figuring it would be easier to cast the spell where the man couldn't see him, but the movement of the surrounding dancers pushed him closer than he meant to go until his chest was flat against the man's back, so he put one arm around the body in front of him and pretended that it was deliberate.

He slid one hand into his pocket and angled the wand concealed there at the man, pushed his face into the man's back and whispered a variation of the tracking charm that they used on the dragons.

The man ground back against him and Charlie found that he was joining the dance, enjoying the fact that his partner could actually dance and was enthusiastic about it, before realising what he was doing and making a hasty retreat.

"Did you get it done?" was the first thing that Owen asked when they met up outside in the cool night air.

Charlie nodded, one hand still gripping his wand inside his pocket.

"On the map, correct?" said Lius as if there had never been any doubt.

Charlie turned to look at him. "It worked?"

He waved a well-used piece of parchment at Charlie, who grabbed it for a better look. Every Dragon Reserve had a similar map, showing the Reserve and movement of the dragons, along with their breed and gender, within the Reserve. A clever idea from Owen, followed by a lot of research, had allowed them to extend the boundary of their map and adapt a spell they used everyday on animals to add a different type of creature onto it.

"Now that's one way of tracking a vampire to its lair," said Lius as he took the map, folded it carefully before tucking it in his back pocket and turned to look at Charlie. "And once we have gotten rid of that nest I am going to beat you over the head with a blunt object until you realise men are what you like. Understand?"

~*~

Wandlight is illuminating The Shed when Charlie Apparates back to the yard behind The Burrow the morning after the battle at Hogwarts. At first he thinks that maybe he's arrived in the wrong place, since he always has been better at flying than other forms of wizarding travel, but when he sticks his head inside the open door and sees Harry Potter he supposes that he must have made it after all.

That, or this is all part of some strange dream and Voldemort is alive and well.

"What are you doing in here?" he says tiredly.

Harry shrugs, his lumos highlighting the purple bruises under his eyes along with the stubble, dirt and scratches decorating his face.

Charlie walks towards him, reaching up and waving a hand in the air in front of his face to dislodge any dangling spiders that he might walk into, and stops about a foot away. Harry doesn't seem concerned by the spiders at all, which is such a change from Ron, who Charlie associates Harry with and who won't set foot in The Shed for anything, that this comparison is all that occupies Charlie's mind for a moment. Then he remembers that Harry is Harry Potter. What are childish fears like spiders and snakes compared to Voldemort?

Charlie is looking at a seventeen-year-old, barely of age, when he himself is twenty-six, but he wonders if he ever really has been a kid, this boy who killed Voldemort.

"I spoke to Dumbledore in here once," Harry says. "I told him that life was too short and it could be me next. I could be the next one to die."

"Rumour has it that you did, before us reinforcements got there."

Harry shrugs again.

"Yeah," says Charlie, "life's too short, however long you get. And that's about as philosophical as I can be on this little sleep, so can we go inside now?"

"You're not afraid of me," is all that Harry says, with a small smile, in reaction to Charlie's bluntness.

"I work with dragons," Charlie says slowly. "Large, fire-breathing, temperamental, magical creatures. With teeth. And deadly tails," he adds.

Harry almost sways towards him, so Charlie reaches out to hold onto his shoulder and leads him back towards the house.

Once inside he can hear voices in the living room - Mum and Dad. They have each other and going in would feel like interfering, so he walks past and carries on up the stairs to the first floor, half-guiding and half-pushing Harry along in front of him.

He doesn't know where Harry is supposed to be sleeping, but he knows that Bill's room is free because Bill isn't back from St. Mungo's yet.

Charlie always stayed in Bill's room when he was home, which was still 'Bill's room' in Charlie's mind even though Bill officially no longer lived at The Burrow, because it had belonged to Bill long before they started having more siblings than rooms and had to share. (He'd always been closest to Bill, with the smaller age gap between them than between him and Percy, besides the fact that they'd often shared hobbies and interests as well as a room.)

He keeps propelling Harry forward until the younger boy reaches the bed, which he thankfully manages to crawl onto on his own before falling asleep so fast that Charlie thinks he may have passed out, or even died.

Charlie watches his chest rise and fall, rise and fall, for at least five minutes before he's convinced that The Boy Who Lived is still living. He finally leaves the room when he catches himself staring at the inch of skin on display where Harry's t-shirt has ridden up, feeling uncomfortable and wanting to find other people.

The door to the next room is open a crack and Charlie pushes it open far enough to stick his head around, but Ginny isn't in. Charlie rubs the small of his back with one hand and scrubs at the top of his head with the other, but it doesn't get rid of the nagging need to know where everyone is. Maybe it's something to do with the fact that at this time of year he's usually sharing a dormitory tent.

Charlie sighs, then goes up the next flight of stairs and nearly trips over Percy when he reaches the top.

"Sorry," Percy says quietly as Charlie regains his balance and casts a quick lumos.

He's sitting outside the door to the twins' room, leaning against the small patch of wall between their door and the top of the stairs with his legs stretched out in front of him. Behind his glasses his eyes are red with grey smudges beneath them and he doesn't bother moving his legs even though Charlie has almost fallen over them.

"He didn’t want me." Percy lifts his left hand so that the palm is facing Charlie and rubs the back of his knuckles against the wooden door before letting it fall back onto his lap.

'He' means George and the thought of George in Fred and George's room without Fred makes Charlie feel even more uncomfortable and awkward than he already does.

"Is he okay?" Charlie asks, keeping his voice low as well.

"I don’t know," Percy says helplessly.

Charlie bends his knees and crouches down until his face is level with Percy's. "Are you okay?"

"I don’t know." He closes his eyes and breathes deep, in and out.

There are footsteps on the stairs, but Bill, warned by Charlie's wand light and their voices, stops two or three steps from the top instead of copying Charlie's falling act.

"Is everything okay?" Charlie says, looking up at him, which is the third time he's said 'okay' and a stupid question, but it doesn’t matter because Bill is looking relieved and he wouldn't look relieved if it wasn't okay.

"Fleur's fine." He manages a smile, although it doesn’t look quite right on his face. "She had a bad reaction to the potions they were giving her. That's why she started bleeding more instead of less, at Hogwarts, but it was complications. Because, well, she's pregnant."

Charlie blinks.

"It's okay," Bill says, carrying on quickly. "She's okay, and the baby's okay too."

"And I'm okay," says a croaky voice as the door to the twins' room opens, "or at least I will be when you lot bugger off. Yeah, it's hard to sleep in here on my own, but it's a damn sight harder with your bloody slumber party going on outside."

"I was worried," confesses Percy.

George clears his throat, blinking as Charlie's narrow light swings towards him and holding onto the edge of the door with both hands as if it's the only thing keeping him upright, but, as bad as he looks, out of the four of them he's the only one who's managed to change into pyjamas and try to sleep.

"I asked about Fred," says Bill. Charlie keeps his wand and his eyes on George. "I'm sorry they wouldn't let you stay with him in the hospital, but it's a madhouse there at the moment. He's doing better though, a lot better."

"'Course he is," says George. "It was only a wall. S'not like he's never been hit by a wall before, just not one that we didn't blow up ourselves."

Both his confidence and humour sound slightly false to Charlie, but they all grin anyway.

"Mum and Dad still downstairs?" asks Charlie, finally standing up and turning to look at Bill.

"Yeah. She's crying, but I think she's happy. The clock's changed again." None of them need to ask which clock he's talking about. "Apparently nobody's in 'mortal peril' anymore."

George sags against the door, as if the clock is a more reliable measure of Fred's health than Bill, but then maybe it's the reassurance from both sources that has George looking so relieved.

"Where's Ginny?" Bill doesn't bother to cover the yawn that escapes from his mouth at the end of the question.

"She's upstairs," says Percy, sounding as relieved as George looks, "with Ron and the others," by which Charlie assumes he means Hermione, and Harry if no one else knows that he had gone outside.

"They're having a crazy kind of foursome," says George.

There's a horrified silence as his three brothers stare at him.

"Someone needs to Scourgify my brain," says Charlie eventually.

Percy groans. "Our sister with Ron and sex in the same room…"

"Our sister and sex in general," says Bill with a genuine grin.

"Oi!" Charlie yells up the stairs, used to making his voice carry. "There isn't any sex happening up there, right?"

Ron's red face appears above them, three flights of stairs higher so that he has to lean out over the banister for anyone other than Charlie to see him, which he does.

"Sod off," he says, eloquent as always.

"Sex!" Charlie shouts. "You having any?"

"We're knackered," Ron says defensively as his face grows red enough to nearly match his hair. He rubs at it with the hand that isn't gripping the banister. "And Ginny's up here and that's… Eww!"

"Our point exactly," says Charlie cheerfully.

Bill laughs and reaches out a hand to pull a smiling Percy up onto his feet.

"I'm trying to sleep here!" Ginny's voice carries better than Charlie's, even though he can't see her and he figures that she hasn't bothered to move from wherever she is in Ron's room. It's probably because her voice is higher pitched. "If you don’t shut up I'll Bat-Bogey Hex all of you!"

Ron's face disappears straight away and George starts to close the door.

"What, she's that good at hexes?" It's Charlie that asks, but Percy and Bill give George curious looks as well.

"You lot ought to pay more attention on those rare occasions when you're home," George tells them in a deliberately low voice. "All the women in this house are deadly."

Charlie and Bill wait until the twins' door is finally closed and Percy has made it to his own room before going back downstairs to find somewhere to sleep.

Mum and Dad are on the landing, finally going up to bed themselves.

"What was all the shouting about?" Dad asks tiredly.

"Sex," says Charlie, "and the fact that no one's getting any."

"When you're married, dear," Mum tells him and Bill fights not to laugh as she pats Charlie on the arm and walks past him to go up the stairs.

"Er, I don't. I mean, I'm not." Charlie stops. He hadn't considered that his mum, who knows everything, might not know that he likes men instead of girls.

Mum turns to look at him with the face that says 'you will be getting a hair cut' or 'I'm about to yell at you and use your full name if you don’t behave right now.' "I hope that just because you, er, Chase for the other team?" She looks at Bill, who looks sheepish, before saying firmly, "Just because you prefer men does not mean that you aren't getting married. If you preferred House Elves, Charlie Weasley, I would still insist that-"

But whatever she would insist is lost under disgusted noises and laughing.

~*~

"I can't believe it," said Charlie a little dazed.

"Don’t tell me you never read any of those letters I send you," Tonks said with a grin.

Charlie stared at the gurgling baby in her arms, his hair a pale shade of baby-blue that matched his mother's. It was one thing to read about Tonks being a mum, but somehow he hadn't really believed it until he'd seen it.

Here he was, with his strange liking of skinny, young-looking blokes, whilst Bill was married, Tonks was married and had a kid

"You're feeling sorry for yourself, aren't you?" said Tonks, interrupting his train of thought.

"Just feeling weird," he replied honestly.

"Well, if you're thinking about not being able to have kids, forgetting for the minute that the law about same-sex couples not being allowed to adopt might have changed by the time you get 'round to feeling broody, one condition of Remus getting to choose the Godparents for Teddy is that I get to choose the Godparents for the next one, so you will be a Godfather at some point."

Charlie blinked. "The next one?"

"Yes, I'm insane and want more children even after recently suffering through the delights of childbirth. And I expect you to spoil him or her rotten, but if you ever take any of my children up on a dragon without my express permission I will burn you alive. Get it?"

"Um, I hadn’t thought about getting married, never mind kids, although. Yeah. Thanks, I guess."

Tonks raised her baby-blue eyebrows and then turned one of them bright red. "You guess?"

"I'm deeply honoured and thank you from the bottom of my extremely grateful heart," Charlie said with a wide grin, and promptly swallowed a mouthful of ash, much to the amusement of the one-month-old Teddy Lupin.

~*~

Charlie hangs the well-used Cleansweep Four back in its wall bracket carefully, then bends down and runs a hand over the twigs to double check that they're properly clean.

"You would have beaten me easily if you'd been on a decent broom," says Harry from The Shed's doorway.

Charlie thinks that it probably isn't a good idea that he's been playing a lot of one-on-one Seeking with Harry this past month, especially when he's more inclined to keep an eye out for the movement of Harry's muscles under the worn shirt he's borrowed off Ron than for the Snitch, but Charlie feels that he needs something to take his mind of the fact that almost three months have passed since he last came home and, however much he loves dragons and the Romanian Reserve, he still can't face leaving his family, not after he came so close to losing members of it.

Besides, the rebuilding at Hogwarts is nowhere near completed yet.

"One of the first things I heard when I started learning about Quidditch was how good Charlie Weasley was," Harry continues, "and how you could have played for England." He leans his Firebolt against the door and steps into The Shed, so that the small space feels crowded to Charlie. It smells of sweat, polished brooms and leather from their Quidditch gear.

Charlie had insisted on them both wearing the basic protective gear and Harry hadn’t complained. They'd both been Captains of the Gryffindor Quidditch team and knew how rough the game could be.

Charlie stands up and his height advantage makes him feel less uncomfortable, even though he hardly has any anymore, until Harry reaches out and strokes Charlie's arm along the edge of his arm guard. Now he wishes that he'd argued for the full gear so that he'd be fully covered. Surely even Harry wouldn't be able to tempt him like that if there hadn't been any skin available to touch.

"Bad idea," Charlie manages to say and he tries to move backwards, but there's no space behind him and Harry is blocking the exit. He licks his dry lips and says quietly, "You like Ginny."

Harry's head jerks up to look at Charlie and he takes a step back.

"Sorry, I'm sorry," says Harry, his tongue tripping over the words. "I just. Didn't you ever kiss a girl and then not feel… I mean, Ginny and me, we didn't do anything and. She's your sister, so this is weird, yeah, but. I don't."

"Take a deep breath," Charlie says with a small smile and Harry pauses to follow his advice.

"I mean, I used to be afraid of being different," Harry says quietly, staring at his feet, the brooms on the walls and anywhere but at Charlie. "More different. I was already this kid who didn't know things about the wizarding world that everyone else took for granted and everyone knew who I was, kept watching me, and I didn't…want to make a mistake, or anything. And the people I grew up with weren't the most open-minded and some things stuck, about queers and stuff. Not that I wanted it to, it just did."

"Used to?" says Charlie.

"Yeah." Harry smiles ruefully and finally meets Charlie's eyes. "I killed Voldemort, how much more 'different' can I get?"

Charlie can't help but grin in reply. "Okay, so you figure that you like blokes, yeah? I'm assuming that that's what you mean by 'queer'?"

Harry nods, a small blush creeping across his cheeks. Charlie wants to reach out and see how warm they really are.

"Right, well first off you should know that everyone in the family is okay with that, including Mum," says Charlie, feeling that that's the most important thing he could say, "so don't worry about talking about it or showing it or anything. Um, and I have a book you might like to read."

"A book?" Harry's voice breaks a little in surprise, which makes Charlie realise that it's nearly settled now.

"Yeah." Charlie grins again and half-rolls his eyes. "A friend of mine on the Reserve got it for me. Lius."

"Yeah?" Harry backs away out of the door, picking up his broom, and Charlie follows.

"After this one time, where we went to an all blokes club following a vampire – on Dumbledore's orders – and I had to…" Charlie pauses whilst Harry laughs. "You know, I'm only going to continue this humiliating story on the clear understanding that I get to hear some of yours."

He tries not to be too pleased when Harry laughs again and nods.

~*~

Charlie woke up when Fred sat on his head.

This was not unusual, but since Fred hadn't known that Charlie was sleeping on the couch and had, after all, only just got back from St. Mungo's, Charlie decided to forgive him for what was probably an accident.

"What are you doing on the couch?" Fred asked once he'd stood up and Charlie had recovered from having his face squashed.

"I forgot who was in what bed and where the camp beds were and this was just easiest." Charlie sat up, stretched and yawned, and prodded his nose to check it hadn't been broken.

"Couldn't you have just conjured a camp bed?"

"The couch was already here." Charlie glared up at him and then winked. "Some of us were fighting a battle all night and not everyone had a nice, restful sleep afterwards, you know."

"Well, some of us need our beauty sleep," said Fred, "but even a hundred years wouldn't help you."

Charlie kicked at Fred's ankle. "Did you floo back yourself?"

"Yeah." Fred studied the ceiling for a moment as he said, "I wanted to come home."

Charlie yawned again. "Guess that means we'd better wake everyone up and let them know you're here, then."

Fred made straight for his and George's room first, which meant everyone on that floor and above would be awake in short order, so Charlie decided to roust anyone on the floor below. He knocked on Ginny's door, then pushed it open and discovered that he could have slept in her unoccupied bed rather than on the couch.

Next door Harry was still asleep in Bill's bed, or at least Charlie hoped that he was still asleep and hadn't noticed that Charlie was stood in the wide-open doorway watching the younger boy humping the bed.

His hair was a sweaty mess, he looked filthy and, well, like someone who had been in a war, but Charlie couldn't drag his eyes away from the muscles in Harry's back under his grotty t-shirt and the rhythmic movement of his pelvis.

Charlie had always been drawn to movement, which was one of the reasons he was such a good Seeker. His eyes caught and followed motion. It made him aware of how bodies moved and, in recent years, he'd discovered that one of the things he found the most attractive were people who moved with confidence, who knew what their bodies could do and did it.

Harry moved with purpose and confidence, his hips snapping forwards and his mouth open in a tiny 'O'. Charlie wanted to move with him.

Harry's eyes flickered and he let out a low groan.

Charlie forced himself to leave, closing the door behind him.

~*~

Charlie is never tired of watching Harry in flight and he's given up on pretending otherwise. He's given up on pretending a lot of things, like pretending that Harry hasn't been trying to flirt with him since he found out that Charlie liked blokes too.

All pretending has ever given him is a headache.

The summer air is hot and heavy, even now at dusk. Harry unbuckles his arm, thigh and calf guards and leaves them lying on the grass while he tends to his Firebolt. Charlie moves into The Shed, but after a moment he can feel Harry standing close behind him and when he crouches down to check the twigs of his broom callused finger pads lightly touch the nape of his neck.

Charlie concentrates on the Comet 260 in front of him, bought with the last of his wages from the Reserve as a it-took-us-a-year-to-do,-but-Hogwarts
-is-repaired gift for himself. He needs to think about going back to Romania now. He's been trying to think about it for a while, but now his money has run out it's a choice between going back or finding a job here, and there are no dragons in Ottery St. Catchpole.

The fingers on the back of his neck move upwards into his hair, then away. Charlie stands up without turning around and contemplates the Comet's handle.

Harry's hand reaches around him to run his palm along Charlie's upper arm and then along the edge of the arm guard, from his elbow to his wrist, and Charlie shivers. Harry tugs on the wrist buckle holding the guard in place and Charlie finally turns around. Green eyes look at him intently as Harry asks, quickly as though he doesn’t want to say it, "Can I?"

This time Charlie can't think of any reason why not. Harry isn’t a fourteen-year-old boy who's too young to know what he's doing and he isn't a confused seventeen-year-old either. If they were any other excuses, he can't remember them.

"Life's too short," Harry breathes into his mouth before he kisses him; warm lips, hot breath and the tip of a tongue touching his.

Charlie groans a little as Harry pulls away, but then Harry is unbuckling his arm guard and exploring the skin revealed. Harry's hands are small on his arm and pale against the masses of freckles that give Charlie the illusion of being tanned. Charlie bends his head down to press open-mouthed kisses across the faint lines that read 'I must not tell lies' and he smiles as Harry's breath catches in his throat.

Then they're kissing again and Harry's hands are fumbling at the buckles of Charlie's other arm guard while Charlie's hands find their way under Harry's t-shirt and push it up over his head. Harry's glasses get stuck in the shirt and come off with them, but he doesn't seem to care.

Charlie's shirt comes off soon after and Harry says, "Wow, you have more freckles than Ron," before adding hastily, "not that I've looked at Ron or anything."

"It's okay. I won the family freckle lottery."

Charlie bites Harry's lower lip and then moves his head lower, gently closing his teeth around one of Harry's nipples before placing his tongue flat against it, and Harry makes a wonderful keening sound. He pushes a thigh, still covered with a Quidditch guard, between Harry's legs, and Harry pushes back, eager hands and a lightly-haired chest shoving him against a wall.

The old Shooting Star clatters to the floor and Charlie kicks it to one side, heedless of cracking twigs.

They push-grind, push-grind against each other, Harry's hands wrapped around Charlie's upper arms and gripping tight enough that Charlie can feel hot handprints sinking into his bones. Charlie reaches out blindly and grabs a broom bracket for support as Harry bucks against him, Harry's mouth a tiny 'O' and Charlie mouthing Harry's Adam's apple until he throws his head back, cracking it against the stone wall and coming in his pants as Harry groans into the hollow at the base of Charlie's neck.

Afterwards Harry loosens his grip and buries his head in Charlie's chest so that he can hear Charlie's heartbeat and Charlie can feel Harry breathing against his skin. Charlie feels like he ought to care about the hard wall behind his back, the sweat sticking them both together and the embarrassing, sticky wet patches in the front of their trousers, but Harry breathes in and out, in and out, warm against his skin, and that's all that Charlie can think about.

~*~

The three of them looked a state when they walked through the Lupin's front door after a day at Hogwarts. Harry's black hair had turned grey from stone dust after spending all day repairing a wall, Remus was still twitching (after spending four hours untangling a Sponge-Knees Curse and an Entrail-Expelling Curse that had ended up wrapped around a boggart found rattling around inside a suit of armour) and Charlie was slathered with congealing orange burn-healing paste, although that really wasn't different to how he looked after a bad day on the Reserve.

"You take him," Tonks commanded her husband, placing a chuckling Teddy in his arms and pushing him towards the front room, "you take a shower," she told Harry, handing him a towel and pushing him towards the stairs, "and you, Charlie-boy, can come into the kitchen whilst I cook the tea and tell me why you look so miserable under that paste."

"I don't know," said Charlie, following her obediently.

Tonks waved her wand at a bubbling saucepan until it stopped behaving so violently and sat down at the second-hand kitchen table that had 'clean me' carved into the otherwise smooth surface. "So, have you jumped Harry's bones yet?"

"No!" Charlie pulled a face at her as he sat down opposite.

Tonks retaliated by growing a chicken's beak and clucking at him before morphing back to normal, or at least what counted as normal for her.

"That must be a big hit with Teddy," said Charlie.

"No other parent can do farmyard animals as good as me," said Tonks, "but don’t change the subject. Why haven't you jumped his bones? He obviously wants you to."

"He only just turned eighteen."

"Which is legal in the wizarding and Muggle worlds both, so what's you problem?" She folded her arms on top of the table and leaned forward. "Has there at least been 'inappropriate' touching?"

Charlie fought not to blush and failed.

"Oh, so he's done the touching?" she said and grinned as Charlie squirmed a little on his seat. "Why aren’t you touching back?"

"I don't. He." Charlie fixed his eyes on the table top. "He's only eighteen. How can he know if he likes boys or not?"

"Not everyone needs beating over the head with a blunt object before they can see the obvious," said Tonks sagely, which made him think she'd met Lius one too many times in the past few years.

"He liked my sister."

"Yes, but she has tits," she said, laughing. "Distinct difference, remember?" She paused a moment and then asked quietly, "Do you like him?"

"What's not to like," said Charlie, still addressing the table.

"Just because he's The Boy Who Lived doesn't mean everyone has to fall all over him."

"I know. I don't. He's just a kid." Tonks snorted at that and Charlie looked up at her. "No, I mean, when I look at him I can see this kid who's almost grown-up, but not quite there yet."

"You’re waiting for him to grow up? Like Fred and George, you mean? Or Dumbledore, even, with his sweets? Or just putting it off until you think he's old enough?" Tonks flicked her wand at one of the saucepans on the cooker. Charlie watched as it grew legs and drained the water out of itself in the sink before waddling over to a glass bowl and tipping its pasta out into it. "What happened to that Gryffindor courage of yours? If he wants you and you want him, go for it. Seize the day, and all that jazz."

"I guess."

Tonks flicked her wand again and the second saucepan poured its Bolognese over the pasta in the glass bowl. Charlie wondered when his old friend became capable of telling him to have sex whilst wielding culinary magic like his mum.

"Do you like him?"

"Yeah. He's nice." Tonks snorted again and Charlie laughed. "No, he really is. And, well, life's too short. Isn't it?"

~*~

In one corner of The Shed there is a Shooting Star 76 with broken tail twigs. No one throws it away, because of the sentimental value.

~End~
 
 
feeling: bouncybouncy
 
 
 
weasley_festmodweasley_festmod on August 14th, 2008 12:21 am (UTC)
Dear inkvoices,

Since I have been unable to successfully send you your banner via email for an unknown and highly frustrating reason, I have uploaded your gift banner to the weasley_festmod journal's pictures and linking to it in this comment so that you can access it and save it to your own server.

Below you will find the contents of the original email I sent you with the details as to whom you should credit for the banner.

Sincerely,
star54kar,
AKA: weasley_festmod

Dear inkvoices,

The reveals are up and we have reached the end of the First Annual Weasley Fest!

As a token of my appreciation for your contribution, please accept this banner, commemorating your participation in the fest.

When you display your new banner, please be sure to credit kath_ballantyne for contributing the artwork as well as jo_ron for making the banner.

Thank you very much for joining us in the celebration and I hope to see you next year!

Sincerely,
star54kar,
AKA: weasley_festmod

inkvoices: LotR: yayinkvoices on August 14th, 2008 10:54 pm (UTC)
I've decided that technology judt doesn't like me these days (if ever). Thank you so very much for going to the effort of figuring out a way to give me the lovely banner! :o)