By: Chaos and Raven
Charlie was not as close to his siblings as he would have liked. Ron and Ginny especially. When they were young, he was away at Hogwarts and after that, off studying dragons. He kept in touch as best he could, exchanging owls every few months, visiting over the hols when he had time.
In his letters, Ron told Charlie about life at school, his surprising friendship with Harry Potter, and the girl who was certain to drive him completely barmy given half a chance. Charlie sent his replies on soot stained paper, wondering what made Ron's friends so special. That all changed the first time he met Harry Potter for himself.
He expected... Someone different. Someone bigger. Stronger. Happier than the slender boy in front of him.
Harry shook his hand with a firm grip and said, "Nice to meet you. Ron's told me all about you."
"I could say the same," Charlie replied.
Then Harry smiled.
Charlie had thought, perhaps naively, that there was nothing so beautiful, nothing more deserving of his love and protection than dragon hatchlings. As he watched Harry be absorbed into his family he knew for certain that he'd been wrong. Harry made his heart ache. It was the bestworst feeling he'd ever had.
"We'll have to chat later," Harry said. "You can tell me all about the dragons."
There was a flash of teeth as Harry smiled.
If Charlie were being perfectly honest, he would have to admit Harry was rather plain. Mid height, mid build -- maybe a bit skinny, with wild dark hair. From arms length, he had a strong jaw, perfect skin, and striking eyes. Charlie was completely lost.
He spent the rest of the day in a daze. His banter felt forced, his smiles faked. It was a relief when the rest of the family went to bed early. Charlie sat alone at the long dining table. Thin strips of moonlight filtered through the windows. There were light footsteps behind him and the floorboards creaked ominously. Charlie looked up, surprised to have his solitude interrupted.
"Harry? Is that you?"
Harry smiled weakly. "Hullo, Charlie."
"Can't sleep?" Charlie asked.
He shrugged as though resigned. "Somebody in there is snoring. I just wanted a glass of water."
Charlie nodded sympathetically. The twins were notoriously loud sleepers.
He watched as Harry cautiously fumbled around in the dark kitchen. It was odd to feel such overwhelming devotion to Harry. They'd only met that afternoon. And yet... there was something familiar about the boy.
"We never did have a chance to chat," Harry said. He sat down in the chair next to Charlie.
"No, I suppose not."
"I've never seen a full grown dragon before," Harry said wistfully. "Are they fantastic?"
Charlie smiled into his hand. "I think so. It's... it's like being in the presence of this great force. If you make a wrong move or do something foolish, they could crush you. But they don't. They let you live. And it's amazing. It's almost like a religious experience," Charlie said. It was a little embarassing.
Harry looked at him with something akin to awe, though. "That must be fantastic. I bet you're awfully brave."
He chuckled. "Or a bit daft, if you ask most people."
Harry stood and placed his glass in the sink. He paused next to Charlie on his way out of the room. "I say brave," he said shyly. "Thanks for telling me. Maybe, we can talk more later?"
"I'd like that," Charlie replied softly.
Harry smiled at him again, a wide, happy grin that lit up his face. Impulsively, he leaned over and wrapped his arms around Charlie in a brief hug. "G'night, Charlie."
Charlie sat in moonlight for a long time after that, remembering Harry's warmth against him.