Title: Charlie and Luna Sitting in a Tree
Rating: R overall, NC17 in some sections
Summary: He's been alone for too long. And then along comes Luna....
Author Note: I've been working on this for a long time, and I'm finally ready to share it with you. As of today, this is half of what I have so far. I can't promise when the next section will be up, but hopefully, you won't have to wait too long. Thanks to luvscharlie for inspiring my Charlie-love and for reading, and especially to queenb23more for always being the best beta EVAH!!
Even though I'd known her for nearly her entire life, I never really "knew" her until Bill's wedding. It was hard not to notice her, what with those egg yolk coloured robes and all. The sunflower is what really intrigued me, though, as it happens to be one of my favourite flowers. Hey, a bloke like me can like sunflowers, so shut the fuck up, okay?
Any way, I asked her to dance out of politeness. She was shorter than I thought, about Gin-Gin's height. When I took her hand in mine, I was stunned by the smallness and frailty of it. She lifted her head and smiled.
"It's so nice to see you again, Charles." Her voice lilted as if it were on dragon wings.
"Charlie. The prince is Charles," I reminded her. "How's school?"
"Considering that it's summer holidays, it's going extremely well."
I chuckled. "That was always my favourite part, too. What are you studying in the autumn term?"
"Umm, depending on my OWLs, I'd like to concentrate on Care of Magical Creatures. I spoke with Hagrid about doing some extra class work with him."
"I loved that class. Professor Kettleburn helped me get my post in Romania." I turned us around so the sun wasn't in her eyes. "I have my old textbo0ks in the attic if you want them. I can't promise anything as exciting as The Monster Book of Monsters, but they're pretty damn useful."
"Oh that would be wonderful!" she said with glee. She tilted her head to the side and the sunflower drooped a bit. I reached up and tucked it back inside her hair, which was downy soft.
"And just so you know, they're not all about dragons." In fact, some of the more advanced Creature texts dealt with a lot of mythical animals, and I knew she was into strange animals and all; Ginny always wrote about Luna.
"Is the Crumple-Horned Snorkack in there?"
That's right. I couldn't remember what Ginny called them.
"Actually, I think it is. I even know someone who's seen one."
Luna squealed in joy, causing several people to look at us curiously. George made a rude gesture and Fred crossed his eyes while he made a funny face. I swear those two will never grow up; they'll be perpetual adolescents.
"I've dreamed of seeing one my entire life. Father's been trying to organize another trip but, so far, hasn't got the finances in order yet."
To tell you the truth, the chap who saw it was a little loony in my book, but he's got a photo of it and you can't really argue with that sort of evidence now, can you?
Luna continued on about the Snorkack, her voice becoming as animated as I've ever heard. Earlier, it had a dreamy, ethereal quality about it, but now, it was full of excitement, the way I get when I talk about my work. I couldn't help but smile at her enthusiasm for I had the same for my animal of choice.
I was just about to ask her to sit and talk some more about Care of Magical Creatures when Kingsley Shacklebolt's Patronus showed up and the world started to go to hell.
The next time I saw her, she was sitting at a House table in the Great Hall of Hogwarts after dismissing Harry, distracting everyone by claiming to see a Blibbering Humdinger. I gave a half-smile at that, knowing exactly what she was doing.
Luna's hair was mussed up and a little singed. There were smears of soot or dirt on her cheeks and she looked as if she hadn't had a decent night's sleep in weeks. Despite my own grief over the loss of Fred, I felt compelled to walk over and soon found myself taking a seat next to her.
"Hello, there," she answered, placing a hand on one of mine. It felt like years since we'd danced together at Bill's wedding. "I'm so sorry about Fred. He was very amusing and entertaining."
"Thanks. He was." I looked over my shoulder and saw George staring blankly at the body of his twin; it made my heart ache to look at them. "George…he's—"
"He'll feel lost."
Luna smiled briefly and I noticed her eyes well up. Funny, it was my brother who was killed, yet it was she who was crying over him. I reached up and wiped away the solitary tear.
"Where's your father? He wasn't here to fight."
Luna sighed. "Alas, he's in Azkaban."
"Since when? How can you be so calm?" Was she completely mental?
"There's nothing I could have done about it as I was in the Malfoys’ dungeon." She sighed again. "He'll be let out soon, once everything gets straightened out. Of that much, I am certain."
"You have a lot of faith in people who've screwed over a lot of us lately," I reminded her. Bureaucracy never freed people quickly.
"It's all I have right now, Charles. Faith builds character, and character builds hope; hope doesn't disappoint us. I have hope that the world will eventually become a better place. We had such bad times of late…things have to get better."
Somehow, her fuzzy logic made sense. We had to get through all this crap in order to have a future. Funny how the person perceived as the most illogical could be the voice of reason in a room full of grief. Her remarks made me hopeful for the first time in months, even though it was mere hours after the death of my brother.
"You're a remarkable girl, Luna."
"Not remarkable,” she corrected. “Only perceptive and intuitive,"
"Well, whatever you wanna call it, you're eons ahead of most of us." I patted her on the head and smiled at her, getting up to join my family. "Come with me. I think Ginny could use a friend right now."
I left England to return to the reserve at the end of May. It was the longest I'd stayed at home since finishing Hogwarts. I love my family, don't get me wrong, but I'm not much for all the raw emotion that was filling the house after Fred's funeral. Mum blubbered on about him and was a right basket case at his funeral. George was walking around like a zombie. For my own sanity, I had to leave.
At the end of July, I got an owl from Ginny. As I read the letter, I couldn't believe that she was turning seventeen. The little sprout grew up when I wasn't watching. That very day, I made arrangements to go home for her birthday.
After four Apparition stops, three time zones, and a quick shower, I arrived at The Burrow for Ginny's party. I opened the gate to the back garden and was greeted by my now-legal sister snogging Harry Potter on a wooden bench. Stopped dead in my tracks, I watched them grope and kiss, realizing that it had been almost two years since I'd snogged a girl; there aren't many female dragon keepers, and blokes just don't do it for me, contrary to what Bill thinks.
"Excuse me, but I thought there was a party," I interrupted, chuckling softly as the two of them jerked apart and Harry turned a shade of red I'd never seen on him before.
"Charlie!" Ginny ran to me and leapt into my arms, and I spun her around.
"Happy birthday, kiddo!" I set her on the ground. "So what's with you and the Chosen One?"
It was her turn to blush.
"Just…giving me something to remember him by."
"He better NOT!" I swooped down on Harry in my best big-brother act and glared at him. "You keep that pecker inside those pants and away from my sister! I don't care if you're everyone's bloody hero or not!"
"Y—y—yes, Charlie," Harry answered in a pathetic voice. He looked pathetic, too; his eyes were wide, and he was visibly shaking. You'd think that the boy who knocked out Voldemort would know a joke when it bit him in the arse.
"Stop it, Charlie, and apologize," she warned. "Remember Therese McAvoy?"
She would have to bring that up, wouldn't she? I'll save that explanation for another day.
"Sorry, Harry," I reassured him and grabbed him round the shoulders. "I'm just taking the mickey. You of all people should be allowed to have some good old sex."
Harry sputtered, "We weren't—"
"I know!" I raised my hands. "Just wanted to let you know that none of us brothers are that stupid as to deny the fact that our sister is madly in love with you and would most likely corner you in the broom shed just to get inside your trousers."
I laughed as they both opened their mouths, the epitome of being gobsmacked, and headed toward the house where I hoped I'd find Mum hopefully flitting about the kitchen in pre-party mode. I seriously hoped that she'd got over the heavy grief of losing Fred.
Instead of my mother in the kitchen, it was Luna. She was directing pots and pans around the place as if it were her own kitchen. Flour dappled her face and hair, making her look like an appaloosa horse. I smiled at the image before me. Ginny had told me that Luna practically lived at The Burrow these days, but I hadn’t quite believed her.
"Where's my mum?"
Luna spun around on her toes and beamed at me. When she smiled, her whole face lit up, giving her a bit of a glow. Could have been from the heat of the kitchen, but I preferred to think it was just her.
"Charlie! We weren't expecting you so soon!"
Before I had a chance to respond, she threw herself at me and wrapped her arms around my middle, hugging me as if I were her brother and not Ginny's. When she stopped squeezing me, I set her away from me.
"She and your father are at Shell Cottage, trying to convince Fleur that she doesn't look like a beached whale."
I nodded. Fleur had found out last week that she was expecting; apparently, at six weeks pregnant, she felt like a beach ball. Bill told me in a letter that her breasts were huge and sensitive and that she loved having him fuck her tits. Ooops…probably shouldn't have said that. I shook that thought out of my head and poked my head into the scullery and grabbed a bottle of Butterbeer from the ice-filled tub.
"Ron and Hermione are out at the pond…"
Did my little brother finally grow a pair? I ripped off the cork and took a swig, savouring the cool liquid flowing into my throat.
"Ginny is out snogging Harry, although you probably knew that. But I don't think she told you they're going to have sex tonight for the first time."
I sprayed her with the Butterbeer that I just poured into my mouth and tried to apologise.
"That's alright, Charlie," she answered cool as can be. "In some circles, it's good luck. Would you like some good luck?" She reached for the bottle, but I yanked it out of her reach.
"That's a little more than I wanted to know," I answered, feeling my cheeks warm at her comment. "So why are you in the kitchen?"
"Not a very smooth segue, Charlie." Luna gave a half-smile and I surprisingly felt myself think she was flirting with me. Before I could respond, she said, "I told your mother I'd help with the cooking."
Before I could ask Luna about my mother, the door swung open and I was engulfed in my mum's arms, and she began peppering my cheeks with kisses, just like she used to do when I was little. This was one of the times when I wished I was more Weasley than Prewett in my build.
"Mum…Mum, geroff me!" I managed to get out of her grasp and was swept into more hugs from the rest of the family.
It was good to be home with them, I decided, as I looked around the room. My eyes landed on Luna, still standing near the worktop. She looked so lonely and I wondered if her father had been released yet. No one should have to put her life on hold waiting like she did.
Everyone deserved a happy ending.
Christmas was far more festive than I had expected it to be. My parents took joy in the fact that there would be a new baby soon rather than lingering over Fred's death. It was nice to see them smiling rather than crying. Bill looked almost as pregnant as Fleur; the poor bloke put on a bit of sympathy weight and earned himself quite a bit of ribbing from us brothers. Percy, who was still as stuffy as ever, brought home….wait for it…a girl! Audrey Beauregard, an American witch from 'Lew—eez—ee—ay—ana', was helping the Ministry sort through the mess left behind by Thicknesse's crew. Percy originally introduced her as his 'friend from work,' but I noticed the way she looked at him and how he kept touching her. Audrey was perhaps the most difficult person to understand, given her strange accent. Fleur, of course, understood her perfectly, claiming that it was 'Ze 'uguenot blood in ze bose of us.'
George and Ron were both shagging their birds, I could tell. Angelina Johnson sat next to George at dinner and the two of them couldn't stop looking at each other or touching. I figured they'd been shagging for only a few weeks; they were still in the 'Oh Merlin, we're having sex' stage of their relationship. Ron, on the other hand, has been bedding Hermione for a while now. He was openly drooling over her as she walked past, his eyes settling on the rather shapely arse draped in purple cloth. Apparently, he hasn't got any lately and has most likely been fucking his right hand most nights.
Ginny and Harry were no longer single entities. It wasn't 'Ginny went to Diagon Alley to buy the Christmas decorations,' but 'Harry and Ginny went to Diagon Alley…', 'Ginny and Harry babysat Teddy the other night…' Blah, blah, blah. The poor bloke was as whipped as I've ever seen and it was disgusting to watch. However, my sister was almost as bad. It was obvious that she was beyond happy with him; if anyone deserved such happiness it was those two. I just prefer not to think about them together together.
So, yeah, I was the lone single in the house and by the time dinner was over and pudding had been consumed, I felt distinctly out of place in the home I'd grown up in. Bill was massaging Fleur's bump. Percy and Audrey were playing chess with Ron and Hermione. George and Angelina were snogging, and Harry and Ginny were cuddled up on the couch doing Merlin knew what underneath an old Gryffindor blanket. Mum and Dad merely smiled at all of this.
The clock rang seven and there was a knock at the door. Without saying a thing, I sprang up and opened the door.
"Luna! Happy Christmas!" A broad smile spread across my face. "How are you?"
As she stepped inside, her father stood behind her and smiled warmly at me. Xeno had always been a little odd, but his time in prison made him look three sizes too small.
Mum and Dad joined us at the door, and soon, the Lovegoods joined us in the already crowded sitting room. Luna passed around presents and surprised me by placing a small package on my lap.
"You didn't have to get me anything." I felt strangely nervous around her, something I never am around women.
"Well," she began in a very light voice, "you did loan me your books and I never did say thank you properly for them."
"I just hope they help." I put my hand on her knee, a completely innocent gesture, and when she placed hers on mine, my hand jumped away.
"Is there a Nargle in here?" She looked around the room curiously.
"Wha—what?" I followed her glances around the room.
"Nargles. They live inside mistletoe. Oh! There's some!" She pointed at the bunch dangling above the door by the stairs. "Must be for when everyone goes upstairs to pretend their not going to shag tonight."
If I didn't know better, I'd swear that girl plans saying things like that just to shock me.
"Yeah, well, maybe. All I can say is that I'll be the lonely one tonight." I really should have brought a date. Even a pity date would have been better than watching my family make goo-goo eyes at people they loved.
"That's probably true. If it's any comfort, I'll be lonely, too."
Our eyes locked and I noticed, not for the first time, that Luna, with her big blue eyes and wispy, blond hair, was rather attractive. She smelled like winter: piny and crisp, like the morning after a heavy snowfall. I also saw the truth in her statement. Her eyes were lonely and behind them was a need for friendship or something more.
I had to shake that thought out of my head. She's seventeen and one of my sister's best friends. A child, really. A little girl.
"Open your present," she said softly, pulling me from my thoughts.
"Er…yeah, sorry." I ripped off the paper and opened the little box. "Luna…wow. Thanks." It was a little jade dragon figurine that swished its tail back and forth. If I wasn't mistaken, it was a Welsh Green.
"Oh Charlie, that's lovely." I looked up and saw Mum admire the little dragon in my hand.
All heads turned toward us, making me uncomfortable with unwanted attention. I just knew that my cheeks were red.
"Yeah, it's great, isn't it? Thanks, Luna."
I then realized that it was probably a pity gift, seeing as how she had a connection to nearly everyone else in my family; she just didn't want me to feel left out. She was friends with Ginny, Ron, Hermione, and Harry; Bill and Fleur took care of her after escaping the Malfoys; she and George spent time together at Muriel's, and Mum and Dad looked after here there, too. Hell, I even heard from Ginny that Luna and Percy liked to debate about politics.
All of a sudden, I excused myself and walked into the kitchen on the pretence of needing a refill of my drink. I had to swallow down the feeling that I really didn't belong here anymore. My job had become my life and that's where I felt the most comfortable. I was always close to Bill, but with impending fatherhood, all he wanted to talk about was the baby and Fleur. Percy was always too intellectual for me; George was always good for a laugh, but we were never really friendly. Ron could at least talk a lot about Quidditch but that's where the similarities ended; we were just too far apart in age to be close. Even though I love my sister to the end of the world, she'll always be three years old to me and finally being potty-trained like she was when I left for Hogwarts.
That really was the reason I didn't come home as often as my parents would have liked. I was too much of a nature boy to stick around in boring old Devon. I had explored every tunnel and cave in the county by the time I was fourteen. There was no wonder here after that and the opportunity to work in Romania couldn't have come at a better time. I had my heart broken by none other than Dora Tonks; her drive to be an Auror was the decision that broke us up. I couldn't hang around here for three years. No one will ever know the pain I experienced when I heard that she'd married Remus. I guess I'd always held out hope that we could work things out.
"Charlie?" It was Luna. "What's the matter?"
I cleared my throat. "What makes you think anything's wrong?"
"You left to get a refill when the drinks are in the other room on the sideboard. You've been gone far too long to realize your error and…and you look how I feel sometimes."
"What?" I ran my hand through my hair in an effort to hide the fact I was wiping my right eye.
"Lonely. You said it yourself earlier. I feel lonely, too. Especially when I see my friends so happy and in love. I've never been in love. Have you?"
I chuckled. "Luna, you're seventeen. You're not supposed to be in love yet. Ginny's been in love with Harry her whole life, even before she met him."
"But you haven't answered my question, which is only polite." She stepped forward until she was right in front of me. "Have you ever been in love?"
I could only nod.
"Have you been involved with anyone since?" She raised an eyebrow.
"For only a night or two," I answered. It was true; my mother would be appalled at the number of one-night stands I've had. "It's hard to find someone who…who…"
"…understands me," we say simultaneously.
"Why did you give me that present, Luna?" I asked. If I moved my head to the right a bit, I could almost kiss her.
"Because I thought we were friends. We don't know each other well, but I have always felt strangely connected to you. Almost as if," she paused to sigh, "almost as if we were both bitten by the—"
I stopped her with a gentle kiss; I couldn't help myself. Her eyes closed as I continued to kiss her, telling me this was her first kiss. I placed my hands on her cheeks and held her there, wanting her first kiss to be everything she could have ever wanted. She moaned as my tongue traced the line of her lips before delving inside to taste her. The kiss had gone on far longer than it should have. I knew I should stop, but she was finally kissing me back. It had been so long and…
Luna and I jumped apart as Harry came to a stop just inside the kitchen; he looked as shocked as I'm sure we did.
“Charlie was just kissing me, Harry,” she said bluntly. That was perhaps one of her more endearing qualities. I’m the same way.
“Er...yeah.” Harry backed out and retreated back into the sitting room.
“Thank you, Charlie.” She lifted up onto her tiptoes and kissed me on the cheek. “It was very nice, and hopefully not the last kiss.”
Without a word, she flitted out the door, her hair sashaying behind her.