the_hoard: (Default)
[personal profile] the_hoard
Author: [personal profile] f13tch3r
Recipient: [personal profile] titti
Title: Family Affaire
Rating: NC-17
Pairing(s): Bill/Charlie
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: Family dinners can be a grind.
Warnings: Weasleycest, Slash, Rimming
Author’s Notes: I tried for a little darkness but failed miserably. I hope I hit enough of your kinks for you to enjoy the fic. I had a great time exploring Bill/Charlie. Huge thanks go to my Betas and Britpicker, [livejournal.com profile] bar_bar_ella & [livejournal.com profile] misstemperance & [livejournal.com profile] zebraspots05! Originally written for the [livejournal.com profile] hp_springsmut fest. :D




It was always only after Bill Disapparated that they started in on him with their questions. Charlie groaned inwardly, knowing what came next - he would never do anything to escape it. It must’ve been the guilt. Whatever it was, he’d never deny himself the onslaught of questions and concerns that were thrown his way after Bill left.

They never visited on weekends and NEVER on Christmas or birthdays. Bill wouldn’t have it. Charlie never pressed it because he knew that it was only in deference to him that Bill ever visited the Burrow at all. Charlie had taken to giving Fred and George as much notice as he could – though often that meant only a few hours – in hopes they could make it to the Burrow for dinner. Charlie was fairly certain that it was through the twins’ efforts that both Ron and Ginny were present at dinner.

He sighed a breath of gratitude that they somehow knew to keep it to the immediate family only. Bill would never stay if Hermione and the kids were there, let alone Harry. Bill hadn’t laid eyes on Harry since Remus’ funeral. At the time, Charlie had been terrified that Bill would lose it and tear Harry limb from limb. He didn’t. Bill managed to contain himself, just barely. But to those who knew him, they saw that a storm raged within.

Charlie Apparated them both home following the funeral. He didn’t see Bill for three days after that. A few farmers reported having found one or more head of cattle mauled. Over the years, a legend had developed in the region about the creature that prowled the countryside. A cautionary tale parents told their children to keep them from going out at night. But the people here were used to living with legends and ghost stories.

Even so, it didn’t keep Charlie from being mired in feelings of abject fear every time Bill disappeared. He was sure that each time would be the time he discovered Bill had been shot by a Muggle farmer defending his flock. Bill’s predicament was so unusual, they didn’t even know if he could be killed by a normal bullet. Truth be told, he wasn’t sure which thought he dreaded more, Bill being killed while on rampage or Bill killing a local yeoman who encountered him.

A full minute passed after the loud ‘crack’ of Bill’s Disapparition before anyone spoke.

“It’s so good of you boys to visit. Does Bill have a young lady friend he is rushing off to see?” Molly, the first to recover from Bill’s abrupt departure, spoke up.

Arthur quickly cleared his throat. “Erm, it must be cold in Romania this time of year. Hard to believe dragons thrive in the cold, what with being reptiles.”

“They’re not reptiles. They are a class unto themselves.”

“Even so, one imagines them to be like any other cold-blooded reptile and so one would think they couldn’t handle the cold.”

“Yes, but one would be wrong to imagine them as such because they aren’t cold-blooded reptiles.”

“Right. It’s still hard to believe.”

“Try.”

His father winced. Charlie admonished himself for the edge in his voice. Arthur was only trying to run interference for him from his mum’s personal questions and he had responded by being a git.

He felt a hand clap down heavily on his back.

“So those dragons must keep you pretty busy then, eh? No rest in the wintertime for you!”

Thanks, George.

“Nope. No rest. Damn dragons are full-time, year-round. But I love it. You know I do.”

“How is your next book coming along?” Arthur ventured.

Charlie tried to give his father a grateful look before answering.

“Well. Very well, actually. I think I’ll have it finished by the spring. The Ridgeback we acquired last summer has been extremely co-operative. Only maimed one handler and she stays quite docile when I’m around, so study of her has been easy.”

“Got a way with ladies, eh, bro? Ouch! Heeeey!”

Fred had clipped Ron alongside his head and Charlie was fairly certain that the ‘ouch’ was for a swift kick from Ginny under the table.

Levitating the pot before him, Arthur asked, “Anybody like more tea?”

“I would!”

“Me!”

“Love some.”

“Sure.”

“No thank you, dear. Speaking of ladies, darling, is there a special one in Bill’s life? What about you? Is there a young fellow who occupies your time?” Molly was nearly shouting to be heard above the din of chairs being scooted and teacups rattling against teapots and saucers. It was too loud, unnaturally so, and yet she prevailed. The unsinkable Molly Weasley. “Well is there, dear?”

Then suddenly it was too quiet. There was a time when he didn’t hate this question. But that time had been all too short. He also remembered when he dreaded visits home because he hated trying to avoid the ‘Is there a special lady in your life?’ question. The most dreaded and most wonderful day of his life was the day he came out to his family. He did it on a weekend he knew his entire family would be home and he’d asked Bill to be there too. Bill already knew. Charlie told him first.

Actually, it had been Bill who confronted Charlie about it. It was his second Christmas after leaving Hogwarts and Bill asked Charlie to join him for a broom ride. They flew across the field and over the hill that was just beyond the Burrow. They flew until they reached the place down the river they would fly to when escaping Molly’s tirades when they were kids.

When they set down, Charlie took some time to take in the view.

“Wow. Haven’t been here in years! The more things change the more they stay the same, eh?”

“I wish that were true.”

Charlie chuckled and asked, “What’re we doing here?”

“Talking.”

“What about?”

“There’s nothing you want to talk about?”

“I suppose there’s plenty we could talk about. Has Gringotts accepted your application?”

“Don’t know yet.”

Charlie made to say something but Bill held up his right hand indicating he wasn’t finished yet. “Are you sure there isn’t anything of particular import that you want to discuss?”

Charlie frowned. He replied a little unsurely, “Yeah… I’m alright. Are you okay, Bill?”

Bill looked at his brother for a long moment.

“I’m a little disappointed, actually.”

“Oh don’t worry, Bill. I’m sure Gringotts has loads of applications to sift through. That position in Egypt is so lucrative. You’ll get it though, have no doubt. You’re the best!”

“Sod Gringotts, Charlie! This isn’t about that.”

“What then?”

“There was a time when you’d come to me with anything. Remember how you used to tell me any little secret you had? Remember when you were six and you tried your first spell even though mum told you never to try it without her there? Remember that? You crawled into bed with me that night and told me what you’d done and made me promise not to tell her. You told me everything, Charlie. You even told me the first time you wanked, for fuck’s sake!”

Charlie was taken aback by the emotion evident in his brother’s voice. Charlie looked down and kicked at the soaked earth beneath his feet.

“We’re not kids anymore, Bill.”

Bill took his brother’s chin and turned it to face him.

“We’re still brothers.”

Charlie’s eyes flickered to Bill’s. The glance was fleeting but his gaze struggled to find purchase elsewhere.

“Look at me, Charlie.”

Charlie obeyed.

“Tell me.”

“Please, Bill. Please… just let me go.”

“No. You have something to tell me.”

Charlie shoved his brother’s hand from his face. “Leave me alone, Bill. Please.” The final plea was softly spoken as raindrops began to fall between them.

“Charlie, I love you,” Bill whispered.

Charlie shook his head. “But you wouldn’t after you knew.” He spoke mutedly.

The grey skies opened up on the two men as they stood there for long silent moments.

“We should get back before mum sends out a search party for us.”

“Charlie, please don’t do this.”

Charlie turned and made to retrieve his broom.

Thud!

Bill’s hard body crashed against his brother’s back. The force of the embrace sent them tumbling to the sodden ground. Charlie was pinned beneath his brother. Bill wound his long legs around Charlie’s, keeping him from scrabbling for leverage. Bill pressed his face against Charlie’s neck. “I love you! Don’t you understand that? Do not push me away!”

“Bill, please don’t. I can’t.”

“You can and you will. Let me tell you something, little brother, there is no such thing as my not loving you. So, out with it!”

“Bill, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Bollocks! I always know what I’m talking about. Now talk before I break something.” Bill ground his pelvis harshly against Charlie, crushing him painfully against the ground.

“Alright.”

“What?” Bill thrust again.

“Alright!”

“Tell me.”

“I… I’m…” Charlie shivered fiercely. The pressure exerted by Bill hadn’t waned. He took a difficult deep breath and tried again. “I’m, um, gay.”

“What was that?” Thrust.

“I’m gay! I like blokes.”

The pressure eased and Bill allowed Charlie to roll onto his back, though he was still covered by Bill’s body.

“See how easy that was. Guess what, you stupid prat? I still love you!”

Bill pressed his mouth to Charlie’s.

“I’ll always love you. Even if you are the world’s biggest git.”

Charlie started laughing and was grateful for the rain as it hid the tears that streamed from his eyes.

They stayed there in that embrace for some time. And even as the icy rain pelted down on their prone forms, all Charlie felt was the warmth left on his lips from Bill’s mouth.

Charlie never kept anything from Bill again. He thought he might need support, so when Bill offered to be there for him when he came out to the rest of the family in case someone ‘needed a good throttling,’ Charlie was grateful. Now it was Charlie’s turn to be a buffer for Bill. There was no way to avoid the family’s concern without raising more questions.

“No, mum. There’s no one special for either of us.”

“Why not? You boys should be looking to settle down. Ron and Ginny can’t be the only two providing me with grandchildren. Come to think of it, why aren’t you boys bringing home any special ladies for us to meet?” Molly turned her attention to Fred and George.

“Yeah! Why not?” Ron asked. “Ouch!” He glared at Ginny.

The twins grinned at each other. “Mum, you don’t want to know who we’re shagging.”

“You know how it is when you’re young; you want to get as much variety as you can before settling down,” offered Charlie.

Molly turned distinctly pink. “That’s not very safe, you. You boys be careful. Do try to find someone to settle down with, won’t you?”

“No promises, mum.”

Molly frowned and gave Charlie her patented Do-Not-Disappoint-Me look.

“Okay, I promise not to turn love away. Does that suit you?”

“I suppose it will have to do. I worry about you. You and Bill are not so young as Fred and George. You should have children by now.”

“Mum, you know very well that that’s not going to happen.”

Molly waved her hand in the air. “Tosh, dear. You know I was speaking of Bill. Though you could adopt, you know.”

“Yes, I suppose, I could adopt. How about Bill and I adopt a child together? Would that please you?”

Molly threw her napkin down on the table. “Don’t you patronise me, Charlie Weasley!”

“I’m sorry, mum, but honestly, we go through this every visit. No, there isn’t a special lady in Bill’s life. No, there isn’t a, uh, new young man in mine. So unless Bill and I adopt one, there won’t be grandchildren from either of us anytime soon! You’ll have to be content with Ron’s and Ginny’s broods.”

Each dinner guest held his breath for Molly’s reaction.

“Too bad, that. My knitting has become quite excellent since having grandchildren. I should have liked a few more to challenge myself. No matter. I’m sure Hermione and Ginny will provide a few more children each.”

Ginny became wide-eyed. “Don’t be so sure, mum.”

“Of course you will, dear. It’s been such a delight having girls to knit for. Please thank Harry for me for giving us such lovely granddaughters!”

“Will do, mum.”

“Good. Well, I think we’re ready for pudding, don’t you?” Molly pushed away from the dining table. “Hand me your dirty plates, everyone.”

“Ronald, help your mother.”

“Why – ouch! Yes sir.”

Ron stood reluctantly and collected the dirty plates and flatware from the table.

“Thank you, Ronald!”

Once Molly and Ron had disappeared into the kitchen Arthur turned his attention to Charlie.

“About you and, erm, Bill. How are you two doing… together?”

Charlie didn’t really know what to make of the question. Was Arthur really asking about the two of them together?

“Alright, I suppose. I wish he’d find more relevant work, but he seems to be content with being a handyman of sorts in the local village. I worry because he’s such a talented wizard. How can he be satisfied?”

Bill’s employment had been a sore spot since he ran away to Romania. Charlie’s concern was not because they had a need for money. It had more to do with his fears about Bill’s general state of mind. Life had crumbled for him since war’s end.

During the war, Bill recovered quickly and with purpose. Despite being badly wounded by Fenrir Greyback’s attack, Bill ignored his mother’s pleas to take more time and bounced back and faced his new affliction bravely. He threw himself into his work for the Order and found that he worked well with Remus on the fringes of Wizarding society. Their work together, and Remus’ good-natured desire to help Bill, enabled the two men to become very close. It was Remus who guided Bill through the various changes that happened in his body. Bill told Charlie that it was Remus who delicately explained to him that he'd likely discover that his preference for certain older appetites had changed.

Bill, such an honourable young man, tried anyway. He did his best to keep his engagement to Fleur. But eventually his emerging nature proved transcendent. It truly pained him to break her heart; he moped for weeks. He later confessed to Charlie that he could no longer bring himself to love her. It was Remus who comforted Bill and helped him understand that breaking the engagement was best for both of them.

Bill confided that it was Remus who tenderly helped him explore the new appetite that replaced his affections for Fleur and the fairer sex in general. For Bill, Remus was a dear friend and when he was hit by a deadly curse during the final battle of the war, Bill was devastated.

The curse wasn’t a deadly one, normally, but for Remus, his lycanthropy made it fatal; though it didn’t kill him outright. He lingered for many months, wasting away in St. Mungo’s. The celebrations at war’s end were empty and painful for Bill. Charlie recognised Bill’s struggle and did his best to comfort him. He could never be for Bill what Remus had been but he’d be damned if he didn’t try. Together, they spent endless nights keeping vigil at Remus’ bedside.

Then one day Harry came to visit. His eyes were red and he trembled. No doubt showing his face there was the most difficult thing he’d done since war’s end.

Charlie saw him first. He braced himself, ready for anything.

“I’m so sorry. God, I’m so, so sorry.” Harry fell to his knees beside the bed and wept.

The lines on Bill’s face darkened and the usual compassionate shine of his eyes was clouded by shadows of his scars.

“Bill…”

“I’m gonna kill him.” Bill shifted his body as if to pounce. “You’re dead, Potter!”

Charlie tackled Bill in mid-air and immediately Disapparated them away from St. Mungo’s.

“What do you think you’re doing, Charlie?! Get off me!”

Charlie released his brother and got to his feet.

“I’m taking care of you,” he answered as he brushed himself off.

“I don’t need you to do that,” Bill heaved. He looked about them. “Where the fuck...?”

“Vauxhall.”

“What?”

“Muggle London. My favourite club is not far from here. It’s the first place I thought of.” He shrugged.

“What?!” Bill shook his head; he didn’t seem to be following the conversation. He grabbed Charlie and slammed him against the building wall. “I can take care of myself. I would’ve been fine,” he growled.

“No, you wouldn’t’ve. Nor would the rest of the family. Just what the fuck did you think would happen?”

“He did it, Charlie! It’s his fault Remus is dying. I was going to give him what he deserves!”

Bill’s rage sent a shudder through Charlie. He grasped Bill’s wrists and pleaded with his brother.

“It was an ACCIDENT! You see that, don’t you? You saw Harry crying, he feels horrible! You know damn well that curse was meant for a Death Eater! That’s war, Bill. People make mistakes and people are lost. That’s how we lost Percy, or have you forgotten?”

“I’ve forgotten nothing!” Bill’s hands pressed harder against Charlie. “Percy was a fool! He chose the wrong friends. He deserved his fate,” snarled Bill.

“You don’t mean that. You can spew that shit to anybody but me, man, because I’m not buying it. You can’t fool me, Bill. I’m not mum or dad or anyone else. I’m Charlie and I know you best.”

“Only Remus does.”

Charlie ignored the pang that shot through his chest.

“Fine. Remus wouldn’t want you to hurt Harry. I know that.”

Neither man moved for some time. Charlie kept his gaze locked on his brother’s and watched as the rage and confusion brought tears to his eyes.

“What are you doing, Charlie?” Bill whispered.

“Saving you from doing something you’ll regret for the rest of your life.”

“You’re too late.”

With tears beginning to fall, Bill balled his fists in Charlie’s robes and pulled his body up against him. He crushed their mouths together and kissed his brother with reckless abandon.
Charlie’s mind raced. He remembered that day near the river and the brief kiss that haunted him ever since. Kissing his brother again had been a fantasy and now here he was, doing that very thing, and all he could think was, ‘But where’s the rain?’

Charlie was brought back to reality when he felt the painful pressure of Bill’s kiss begin to wane. No!

Charlie moved his hands from Bill’s wrists to the sides of his face and brought it back to his. He shamelessly forced his tongue into his brother’s mouth. He refused to let up his assault on the exquisite mouth and groaned deeply when Bill responded by sucking on his tongue. There were no more boundaries. They kissed for what seemed like an eternity and yet not nearly long enough.

Naught could be heard but their panting. Bill wrapped his arms around Charlie and buried his head in the crook of his neck.

“Gringotts won’t take me back.”

Charlie held his brother tighter.

“Damn werewolf policy. Fuckers. Don’t even care that I’m not fully werewolf. Fucking goblins. Damn the lot of them. Don’t even have a future now, do I?”

Charlie stroked his brother’s hair. “Shh… you’ve got me. You’ll never be alone.”

“Promise?”

“I swear it.”

“Good.” Bill locked his arms around his brother in a way that made Charlie feel like he’d just signed his life away. And he was perfectly fine with that.


Remus died two months later.



“Well…”Arthur began tentatively, “could it be that there’s a lovely young Muggle Bill has his eye on?”

“No, that can’t be it,” Charlie answered definitively.

The twins looked at Charlie that way again. Every time they did that, he wanted to tell them. He had the distinct feeling that they’d understand. Ginny’s expression was guarded and Arthur’s was confused.

“I mean, I don’t think so anyway. That is something Bill would share with me, is what I mean.”



Bill fled the life he knew and moved to Romania to be with Charlie the day after their kiss in Vauxhall. The transition to their life together was not easy.

Charlie couldn’t have been happier or more confused. He made Bill a special dinner that night and they enjoyed afters beside a lovely fire. But the evening had long since turned to night and it, too, would soon fade and they still hadn’t discussed what happened the previous day. Not only that, Charlie lived in a tiny cottage that was really not meant for two people. Not two people who didn’t sleep together, that is.

“Spit it out.” Bill held out his snifter for a refill. “Something’s been on your mind all night. Do you want me to go?”

“No! No, it’s not that.”

“What is it then?”

“I just… Well, this place is so small and well… I don’t know how we’ll fit.” Charlie put up his hands defensively. “Don’t get me wrong, we will fit. I just haven’t figured out how, yet.”

“What are you going on about? This place is plenty big. Just big enough, I think.” Bill stood and held out his hand. “Let me show you.”

Charlie stood and took his brother’s hand. It was strong and sure in the way it held his.
“See, over here we have the kitchen.”

They turned their heads to the kitchen/dining area.

“Presently we are standing in the living room. Very cosy.” Bill pointed to a door at the far wall. “That door opens to the loo. And here,” Bill led Charlie to a door on the near wall and opened it, “is our bedroom.”

Charlie stared at his brother, his jaw dropped.

“What? You think I let everyone kiss me like that? If Ron tried that he’d get a right good thumping!”

Charlie remained dumbstruck. Bill smirked and dragged Charlie by the arm into the bedroom. He quickly found himself pressed against the wall, being snogged possessively.

Charlie’s mind raced. 'Is this really happening? Is this the way it’s going to be? Me and Bill? Me and Bill?! Oh gods,' he thought.

Bill’s mouth was trailing kisses across Charlie’s jaw to his ear while his wicked hands were exploring the flesh found under Charlie’s shirt, making him gasp when he pinched the hardened nipples.

Gods, his hands were everywhere!

Bill was nipping at the base of Charlie’s throat when he let out an impatient growl.

“Fucking shirt…”

Charlie found his voice. “Rip it… Rip it off.”

Without hesitation, Bill ripped Charlie’s shirt to shreds and did the same to his own. He then recommenced his exploration of Charlie with his hands and mouth.

Charlie’s mind reeled. Gods, his darkest, dirtiest fantasy was coming true and still no rain. But he was pressed against a hard surface again.

Charlie wondered, while Bill was crouched low kissing his belly and licking his navel, if wall sex was a wolf thing or a Bill thing. Charlie couldn’t help chuckling at the thought.

“What’s so funny?”

“Nothing, just tickles a little.”

“Yeah? Well, how ‘bout this? It won’t tickle, I promise.”

Bill opened Charlie’s trousers and swiftly pushed them down to his feet. He did the same with his pants and grinned. He leant in close to Charlie’s arousal and inhaled deeply. Closing his eyes, he moaned and buried his nose in the soft flesh of Charlie’s bollocks. For several minutes all Bill did was breathe in his brother.

“I love your musk. It’s intoxicating.”

Charlie didn’t know what to say. No one had ever spent so much time simply smelling him.

“Thanks,” he offered self-consciously.

Bill continued to inhale while rubbing his face against Charlie’s erection.

“You’re delicious, Charlie. Yes you are.” Bill moved his mouth onto the hard cock. He mouthed it and licked the shaft up to the top where he took the head into his mouth and licked around the edge of it, causing Charlie to release a long, low moan.

While Bill sinfully manipulated his cock, Charlie watched, doing his very best to keep still, his mind saying, ‘I’m going to burst, I’m going to burst.’ He thrust his hands into Bill’s hair, grabbing it in fistfuls.

“Ah gods, I’m gonna burst!”

Bill sped up his ministrations and moaned around the prick in his mouth.

“No!”

Charlie pulled Bill off his cock. Still clenching the fistfuls of hair, Charlie dragged Bill up to his feet, stepped aside and pushed him against the wall. Charlie pressed himself against his brother’s back.

“Unfasten your trousers,” he hissed in Bill’s ear.

Charlie pulled Bill’s trousers down roughly and bared his full backside. Consumed by desire, Charlie dropped to his knees and buried his face in his brother’s arse. He bit the right cheek and kneaded the gorgeous flesh with his hands. Charlie dipped his tongue into the cleft, causing Bill to spread his legs in response. He lapped at Bill’s hole, laving, licking and prodding. Bill pounded his fist against the wall the deeper Charlie probed.

After several delectable minutes, Charlie stood and pressed his mouth to Bill’s ear. “I’m claiming you. You’re mine.”

He lined up his cock with Bill’s slickly prepared arse and pressed himself inside. He applied a steady pressure until his balls connected with Bill’s thighs.

Gods, he was inside his brother! He groaned. It was too much for him. Charlie took a few deep breaths and pulled out a little bit and then pushed back in slowly, gently.

“I’ve done this before. You don’t have to be so bloody gentle with me.”

Charlie groaned again. “Oh thank Merlin!” Charlie started fucking Bill in earnest. He pounded his brother against the wall as if his life depended on it.

“Fuck me, Charlie, but don’t get too comfortable afterwards, your arse is mine!”



“It’s your favourite pudding, Charlie!” Molly exclaimed when she burst back into the dining room.

“It really is,” he murmured. “Bill makes it for me from time to time,” he added.

“Does he really? Oh that’s so absolutely wonderful of him, isn’t it, Arthur?” Molly gushed as she served the spotted dick.

“Yes… well, it sounds positively domestic.” Arthur caught Charlie’s eye. “Is that how it is between you two?”

“Sh… sure. Well… we alternate domestic duties based on who’s home and whatnot. If he’s off doing the odd job then chores fall on me, don’t they?” Charlie’s gaze had fallen to the pudding before him. He picked at it with his spoon.

“That sounds reasonable,” said Ron around a mouthful of spotted dick.

“It certainly does!” chimed Molly. “It makes me very happy to know you boys have each other…”

Loud choking sounds and a cough erupted beside Charlie.

“…to rely upon. You alright, dear? Drink some water.”

“He’ll be alright, mum. Pudding just went down the wrong pipe. Isn’t that right, Fred?”
George was pounding Fred’s back as he coughed and reached for his glass of water.

Fred took a few gulps and waved a hand. “Don’t mind me. Please carry on. I think you were saying how happy it makes you when Bill and Charlie have each other.” Fred and George sniggered.

“Buggeration! What was that for?!” Ron leapt back from the table and glared at Ginny.

“Sorry. Habit,” she shrugged.

“Language, Ronald! If you say such things here, you’ll say them in front of the children. Be mindful.”

“Sorry, mum.”

“I am happy that they have each other.” Molly turned her attention to Charlie. “I worry so much. I take comfort in it. I think it’s wonderful that Bill shares his spotted dick with you. His is so scrumptious! I taught him myself, you know.” Molly was beaming.

Fred and George, meanwhile, were barely containing their laughter.

George cleared his throat and asked, “Tell me, Charlie, does Bill feed you his spotted dick often?”

“Does he serve it to you with butter or custard?” added Fred.

“Oh butter, I’m sure,” said George.

“Why do you say that, dear brother?”

“Custard is much too viscous!”

Ginny erupted, sputtering in laughter. The twins roared.

“That’s enough!” boomed Arthur.

He could feel his father’s eyes upon him. Charlie hadn’t ceased scrutinising his pudding. He felt the heat rise in his face.

“I have to go now.” He pushed away from the dining table. “It’s late."

“It’s not so late,” protested Molly.

“It’s much later in Romania, mum, remember? I should get back. I have an early morning tomorrow.”

“Of course, dear, I’m sorry.” Molly rose from the table and approached her son.

“S’okay, mum.” Charlie embraced his mother. “Thanks for the meal. It was delicious.”

“Charlie.” Arthur stood before Charlie.

“Dad… I.” Looking into his father’s eyes, all words failed Charlie.

He was crushed in an embrace such that he’d never known before from his father. It was strong and compelling and Charlie lost his breath.

“You should visit more often. You’re my son. You both should visit more often. Stay over during the Solstice.”

“Dad… I don’t think…”

Arthur cut him off, “We could squeeze you both into Ron’s old room. I’m know you’re used to living in tight quarters; your cottage is so small.” Arthur looked Charlie hard in the eye. “You can have all the privacy you want up there. I’m sure you boys are used to your solitude where you live.”

Charlie was near panic, trying to decipher his father's words. There were certainly smaller rooms they could be squeezed into, but being that Ron's old room was at the top of the stairs, none were as far removed. There was no way anyone would or could accidentally pass by or intrude on them unless specifically invited. Did Arthur know what he was implying to Charlie?

Charlie’s heart pounded. “I… I.” He coughed. “I’ll talk to Bill.”

“Good.” Arthur released him.

Charlie looked at his siblings who were still seated at the table. They were waving at him.

He raised an arm and waved back to them. “Goodnight, you lot.”

“G’night, Chaz!” they shouted together.

Charlie bristled. “Good to know I’m not leaving too soon.”

After another kiss from his mum, and with thoughts of Bill, Charlie Disapparated.

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