|yule_balls_mod (yule_balls_mod) wrote in hp_yule_balls,|
@ 2008-12-01 11:47:00
|Entry tags:||2008, character: charlie weasley, character: harry potter, fic, pairing: harry/charlie|
Fic: The Dragon and the Pygmy Puff pt. 1 (Harry/Charlie, NC-17) for softly_sweetly
Title: The Dragon and the Pygmy Puff
Pairing(s): Harry/Charlie; also mentions Harry/Ginny, Ginny/OMC, Ron/Hermione and other canon pairings
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended. All characters engaging in sexual activity are 16 years or older.
Summary: Harry as a row with his girlfriend, gets a tattoo, and discovers that denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.
Warnings: pitiful first attempts at dirty talk and spanking
Word Count: ~ 30,000
Author's Notes: Dear softly_sweetly, when I read your kink list, this bunny didn’t so much jump at but pounce on me. It beat all other ideas I might have had into submission and insisted it was the best. I hope it was right. The length is courtesy to muse: she kept petting the Pygmy Puff until there was little that’s still pygmy about it (talk about things that grow when you pet them…)
Thanks to S, R and P for help and beta!
The Dragon and the Pygmy Puff
Harry traced the outline of the dragon that wound its way around Charlie’s spine. It was a Chinese Fireball but golden instead of red, a trace lighter than the multitude of freckles that spread over Charlie’s skin. Harry thought it looked as though the dragon was swimming through a sea of stars.
The edges of the tattoo blurred a little in front of his eyes, and Harry squinted. He’d definitely had too much to drink.
But what occasion was better for drinking too much than his best friends’ wedding?
Harry nodded, satisfied, and concentrated again on the dragon.
He and Charlie were lounging on a rug in front of the empty fireplace in the Weasleys’ living room. Through the wide open windows, they could hear the voices and laughter of the last few remaining guests. They were still celebrating although the bridal couple had long since left for the wedding night.
Harry had no memory of how he had ended up here, in the dark, hot living room instead of being outside with his friends. But he found he didn’t mind at all being here, crouching next to Charlie, who lay face down on the rug, with his head pillowed on his dress robes, which he had doffed earlier. It left him clad only in thin trousers and dragon hide boots and bared his magnificent tattoo to Harry’s eyes. From the moment he had seen it, Harry had forgotten all about the heat.
He had never before seen a real wizard tattoo. The Dark Mark didn’t count. Besides, it had looked a lot different than Charlie’s dragon, more burnt into the skin. Charlie’s dragon didn’t look at all as if it was burnt into the skin. It looked, Harry thought, tilting his head, as though it was under the skin. As if the generous freckles and muscles stretched clear like glass over the sleeping dragon.
It seemed to be moving independently too. Although its body twitched every so slightly each time Charlie drew a breath, Harry could have sworn he saw the slender body of the dragon move gently with its own breath.
It might have been the bottle of champagne speaking. But this was a wizard tattoo, so perhaps not. Harry decided he didn’t care and tickled the dragon’s tail.
Charlie made a low sound in his throat, like a purr, and wriggled slightly against the floor.
For a moment, Harry was reminded of Crookshanks, Hermione’s cat, and he had to grin at the comparison. A compact set of strong, powerful muscles, they both were, crowned with orange fur. Or hair, in this case. And Crookshanks didn’t have such a cool tattoo.
At least, Harry thought so, but he’d have to ask Hermione for that. Not now, though. She and Ron had left earlier. Harry thought he could probably wait until tomorrow morning and tickled the dragon again, scratching his fingernails lightly over the golden skin.
Charlie made that sound again and stretched luxuriously under Harry’s hands, and Harry watched in fascination as the rippling muscles made the cluster of freckles near the dragon’s snout dance. It looked as if the dragon was snorting tiny sparks of dark-golden fire.
Charlie’s chuckle made him aware that he had said the last bit out loud. Harry was momentarily embarrassed, but then giggled.
‘Is’s so cool,’ he slurred. ‘I wanna tattoo too.’
Charlie lifted his head and grinned over his shoulder at the slightly swaying Harry. ‘I thought you already had one. I think I remember Ginny telling everyone you’ve got one.’
‘Hungrian Horntail.’ Harry nodded. ‘’S not true, though. Shinny said that to put off Rommilla … Romilda Vane.’
Charlie propped his head up, half-turning his upper body to look at Harry. The golden dragon curled sensuously and snorted more tiny sparks.
‘Pity, that,’ Charlie said.
‘Huh?’ Harry had been lost in admiring the dragon again.
Charlie’s grin broadened. ‘That you don’t have a Hungarian Horntail tattoo. I’d have liked to see it. Our dragons could have played together.’
He waggled his eyebrows and Harry laughed. Wistfully, he trailed two fingertips down the dragon’s body. Charlie shivered, and sudden goose-bumps made the dragon twitch. Harry rubbed his hand over the small of Charlie’s back and repeated, ‘I’d like to have a tattoo.’
‘Why don’t you get one, then?’
Harry blinked, and then smiled broadly. ‘I can, can’t I?
‘Get one? Of course. You’re of age.’
‘Great!’ Harry jumped to his feet and then wobbled a bit. ‘Let’s go!’
Charlie rolled onto his back and crossed his arms behind his head. ‘Go where?’
Harry blinked. ‘Well, to get a tattoo.’ He frowned suddenly. ‘Where do wishards gets tattoos? Where’d you get yours?’
‘A friend of mine is a tattoo artist. He’s got a studio in Diagon Alley.’
‘Whee, then le’sh go there!’
Charlie chuckled again, making no move to get up. ‘At half past one in the morning?’
Harry paused on his winding way to the door and looked back. ‘No?’ he asked piteously.
Charlie laughed out loud. ‘Definitely no, Harry. Besides, you’re more than a little drunk. Pam would never create a tattoo for you while you’re in that state. Come, sit back down. You can tell me about the tattoo you want.’ He patted the rug on a spot next to his hip.
Harry frowned, still swaying slightly on his feet. ‘But I wan’ one. I wannaaa tattoo,’ he insisted.
Charlie sighed and sat up, wincing ever so slightly.
‘Go to bed, Harry,’ he said gently. ‘If you remember tomorrow morning that you want a tattoo and you still want it, I’ll take you to Pam’s place and you can get one.’
‘But I wanna a tattoo! I really do. Why not go now?’ Harry whined.
‘Because Pam won’t work in the middle of the night.’ Charlie got up, and then bent down to pick up his dress robes.
Harry, momentarily distracted, watched the thin fabric of Charlie’s trousers stretch over his arse and cling lovingly to the outline of Charlie’s erect cock. He got that strange, fluttery feeling in his stomach again that he’d been getting quite a lot since Charlie had returned from Romania for the wedding. He’d always blamed it on the excitement of their furiously fast Quidditch matches and wondered why he got it now. They weren’t playing Quidditch at all. Perhaps it was the champagne.
Charlie turned back to him, sliding into his now crinkled robes, and the feeling vanished. Harry frowned and patted his stomach.
‘Feeling sick already?’ Charlie fastened his robes negligently.
‘No. Jush … just a bit weird. It’s my stomach,’ Harry explained, nodding.
Charlie grinned and clapped his hand on Harry’s shoulder. ‘Is it, now?’ He began to steer Harry towards the door.
‘Yeah, ‘s a bit fluttery. Wash. ‘S gone, now.’ Harry peered down and almost ran into the door-frame. ‘Wonder where it’sh gone?’
‘I wouldn’t worry about that, if I were you. It’ll come back soon enough.’
Harry stopped dead in the middle of climbing the first staircase. ‘Yeah? You shink so? Soon?’
Charlie tugged on Harry’s arm and got him climbing again. He was walking half backwards to keep an eye on Harry’s stumbling progress.
‘Sooner than you wish,’ he told Harry and cast him a sympathetic smile. ‘It’s all the champagne. You had almost two bottles.’
Harry missed the last step in his surprise and fell forwards into Charlie, who grabbed him around the middle to keep him from falling. Charlie staggered a little but kept upright. Harry clung to his robes and whooped as suddenly the room around him seemed to spin.
‘Charlie? What’re you doing?’ came a voice from the next landing. Harry peered past Charlie’s shoulder and saw George, in his pyjamas, looking down at them. Harry giggled.
‘I’m taking Harry to bed,’ Charlie said, with a laugh in his voice. It made his chest rumble, and Harry put his ear to it to listen. ‘He’s a bit drunk,’ Charlie continued, patting Harry’s head.
George chuckled. ‘Charlie, you sly old dog! Don’t let Ginny hear you.’
Charlie set Harry on his feet and pulled him up the next staircase.
‘George, you dirty old perv,’ he replied in the same tone. ‘Get your mind out of the gutter. Harry needs to sleep.’ They had reached the second landing and George stepped aside. ‘His stomach’s a bit fluttery.’
Harry nodded, almost fell over, and grinned at the three Georges. ‘Yeah, all fluttery,’ he agreed. ‘Dunno why it doesh. Ushally only does when we play Shwiddish.’ He stopped, blinked. ‘Squidditsh?’
The Georges patted Harry’s shoulder. He wondered how they managed that.
‘Poor Harry,’ they said. ‘I’ll have a potion for you tomorrow morning.’
Harry pulled a face. ‘Hate Potions. Shnape’s a bashtard. Shaved my life. Shtill a bashatard, though. Even if he’sh dead.’
‘I’m sure he would be pleased to hear that,’ Charlie said. His voice was shaking a little. Behind them, the three Georges were laughing so hard they had to lean against the wall for support. Harry wasn’t sure he agreed with Charlie and spent the next three staircases telling him why. Charlie was choking when they reached Ron’s old room at the top of the house where Harry slept and Harry wondered whether Charlie was ill and needed a potion, too.
Charlie disentangled himself gently from Harry and pushed him down onto the bed. ‘Don’t worry about me, Harry. I’ll be fine.’
Harry wanted to protest but the bed was really nice and squishy under him and the room was spinning around him so that he had to close his eyes. The last thing he felt was Charlie pulling off his boots.
~ * ~
Harry woke up and wished he hadn’t. He couldn’t remember ever feeling so ill. The pain in his head was as bad as any Voldemort-induced scar pain had been, only now, his whole head hurt and not only his scar.
He had the bizarre urge to move, slide out from under the pain in his head, but the moment he did move, his stomach rolled over. Harry clenched his teeth and, when the wave of sickness passed, he whimpered softly. And then had to clench his teeth again, for even the tiny sound hurt his head, and every motion he made caused his queasy stomach to twist and heave.
So he lay in his bed, trying to breathe shallowly so as to avoid any more motion sickness. His head felt as if something hot was trying to force its way out through the back of his skull. Harry was sure not even Cruciatus had been that bad. Or maybe it had been, but at least it had been over quickly. This pain, now, simply went on and on. Harry whimpered tonelessly.
An undefined amount of time later, he heard sounds drifting up to him from downstairs. Voices, and then footsteps on the stairs, doors slamming. Each sound added to the hammering pain in Harry’s head and he wanted to sob. The only thing that stopped him was the knowledge that sobbing would only make matters worse.
And then the ghoul in the attic above him, roused by the noises in the house, began banging on the pipes. Whimpering, Harry crawled under his pillow.
After a while, the ghoul quieted down, and Harry began drifting in and out of sleep again. He was woken by the sound of the door to his room closing. Soft footsteps followed, and then there was a hand on his shoulder.
‘Harry?’ Even George’s quiet voice made Harry’s poor abused head hurt harder. He whimpered again.
‘Here.’ Something cool and smooth touched Harry’s cheek and he opened his eyes fractionally. The room was too bright and he shut his eyes firmly again.
‘Come on, Harry,’ George insisted. ‘It’s a potion. Drink it. You’ll feel better afterwards, guaranteed.’
Harry lifted a hand and groped for the small vial. Fumbling, he opened it and suckled it like a baby would suckle on his bottle. The thick, slightly warm potion trickled down into his roiling stomach, and for a moment, Harry feared it would come right back up. He gasped as his stomach twisted and flipped over. A sucking sensation followed that seemed to shoot up his spine and into his skull. Bright lights exploded behind Harry’s closed lids and he groaned, expecting to be violently sick the very next second. And then it was over.
Harry lay still. He blinked. Nothing. Headache gone. Stomach soothed. He gaped up at George, who was still standing next to Harry’s bed and grinning down at him.
Harry sat up. He shook his head. Nothing.
‘George, you are a saviour!’
George laughed and clapped him on the shoulder.
‘Been there before myself, mate. I expected the party would be wild and prepared myself.’
‘You brewed it yourself?’ Harry was stunned.
‘Oh, yeah.’ George shrugged as Harry handed him the vial back. ‘Fred was better at it, but I’ve had enough experience since … Well.’ After a second’s silence, in which his face had gone very sombre, George grinned once more. ‘How’s it, Harry? Up for a bite of breakfast?’
As if on cue, Harry’s stomach rumbled. Putting a hand on it, Harry answered, ‘Someone seems to think so.’
George laughed and walked to the door. ‘See you downstairs, then!’
Harry swung his legs over the edge of the bed, and then sat there, rubbing his face before he began to grope around for his glasses. Once he had them located and put on, he realised that he was still wearing his dress robes. For a moment, he glanced down at himself and the wrinkled green fabric he was swaddled in, wondering. But then he remembered.
Charlie had put him to bed because he had been so drunk. Harry flushed with embarrassment as he remembered how utterly silly he had been and how Charlie and George had laughed at him. On the other hand, George always laughed, and Charlie had been really nice to Harry. They had sat some time together in the living room, hadn’t they?
Harry wrinkled his brow, concentrating. And it came back to him, slowly. He remembered lounging next to Charlie and admiring his dragon tattoo. With a sudden grin, he recalled his determination to have a tattoo as well and Charlie’s promise to take him to a tattoo artist if he remembered his wish the next morning. Well, it looked as if Charlie would have to keep his promise!
The longer Harry sat and let the previous evening pass in front of his inner eye, the more he recalled. Among other things he remembered why he ended up in the living room with a half-naked Charlie. Why he hadn’t been outside with his supposed girlfriend.
Because his supposed girlfriend had spent almost the entire evening ignoring him and flirting with one of Fleur’s cousins.
Michel Lebeau, Harry remembered. If there was something like a male Veela, Michel was one.
Madame Lebeau was Madame Delacour’s youngest sister, and Michel was her son. The Lebeaus hadn’t been able to come to Fleur’s wedding three years ago. Or rather, they hadn’t wanted to come, what with Voldemort and his policy against wizards who weren’t pure-bloods. Monsieur Lebeau had been worried his part-Veela wife and children would be in danger. There wasn’t any danger for them now, and Fleur had decided she would like to have this part of her family there. So, the Lebeaus had been invited, they had arrived, and from the moment Ginny had set eyes on Michel, she had ignored Harry.
Harry remembered being amused, at first. Then slightly miffed, and then downright hurt when he had seen Ginny snog Michel under the cherry tree. He had given up on her and joined the merry group around George. A little while later, Charlie had come over as well. The brothers had had a whispered conversation, and afterwards both had done their best to divert Harry. George had been plying Harry with drinks, and Charlie had been telling him stories about his dragons and his time as Seeker for Gryffindor. When Ginny had begun to dance with Michel, Charlie had dragged Harry inside.
Where he had pulled off his dress robes and stretched out in front of the fireplace and Harry had admired his tattoo. And decided he wanted one as well.
As Harry got up and gathered his stuff to go down to the bathroom, he gave the idea some serious thought. He had said he wanted a tattoo last night, but did he really or was that a drunken whim like Charlie had thought? While Harry was scrubbing himself vigorously under the shower, he decided he still really wanted a tattoo and, while brushing his teeth, he decided on a motif. He gave himself a toothpaste-y grin in the mirror, and his reflection winked at him.
So, it was decided. He would get a tattoo.
Harry dressed quickly and stuffed his dress robes into the laundry basket. He knew Mrs Weasley would demand them from him anyway, even if Kreacher could have taken care of them. He gave his reflection a last look, tried to flatten his hair, and then ran down the steps to the kitchen, hoping Charlie was there.
But when Harry burst into the Weasleys’ kitchen, the first person he saw was Hermione, buttering a toast. He stopped short and glanced from her to Ron, who was sitting next to his wife, wearing a slightly stunned, goofy grin.
‘Ohh, look who’s finally crawled out of bed!’
Harry blinked and looked around the kitchen table at a broadly grinning Charlie. Charlie raised his cup of tea in a mock-toast.
‘Harry,’ Hermione cried happily and beamed at him. ‘Good morning. How do you feel? George said you were a bit sick?’
‘Just a minor case of Morning After,’ George said from the stove where he was busy filling a plate with bacon and egg. ‘All cured now thanks to HOBGOP, the Hangover Be Gone Potion.’
‘You drank a potion George gave you?’ Hermione dropped her toast in shock, and Ron seemed to wake up from his stupor, blinking owlishly.
Harry laughed and stepped over to the table, giving Hermione a lopsided hug. He punched Ron lightly on the shoulder before he slid into a chair next to him.
‘Yes, I did, but no worries, this one didn’t have any side-effects.’
‘Yet.’ George winked and put the plate in front of Harry. ‘Here you go, and don’t let Mum tell anyone I’m not taking care of you.’
‘If I throw these up again, I’ll tell your mum no.’ Harry grinned at George, before turning back to Hermione and Ron. ‘What are you guys doing here? I thought you’d left for the honeymoon.’
‘Came to say bye, mate,’ Ron said, in a voice almost as dreamy as Luna’s usually was. From the corner of his eyes, Harry saw George and Charlie shake with suppressed laughter.
‘The Portkey leaves at five minutes after twelve o’clock,’ Hermione explained to Harry while glaring at Ron’s brothers. ‘We … ah, we were up early, and since we didn’t see you last night before we left, we thought we’d come here and say goodbye.’
‘She’s talking in the plural already,’ Charlie said in a carrying whisper.
‘Poor Ronniekins,’ George chuckled.
Harry grinned but only said to Hermione, ‘Sorry to be up so late, then,’ before he dug into his eggs.
‘No worries, Harry, it’s not as if Ronniekins were able to hold his own in a conversation this morning. Must’ve been quite a night.’ George plopped into a chair opposite Harry and ignored Hermione’s withering glare.
Harry felt his cheeks heat and concentrated on his bacon. He preferred not thinking about what Ron and Hermione had done last night.
Hermione huffed. ‘It is quite all right, Harry,’ she said with great dignity, ignoring George. ‘It’s only half past eleven, so we still have some time. Would you like a cup of coffee?’
‘She’s mothering, too,’ Charlie commented, and then everybody laughed when Ron, with a happy sigh, said, ‘Yeah, isn’t she wonderful?’
Hermione flushed but grinned as she poured Harry a cup of coffee.
She was describing the hotel where she and Ron would be staying when the door opened and Ginny traipsed in. For a moment, everybody in the kitchen seemed to freeze and hold their breath; or perhaps it was only Harry who felt that way. Hermione finished her sentence about the hotel and greeted Ginny. There was no coolness in her voice. Harry thought she’d probably not noticed what Ginny had been doing last night.
Harry didn’t know whether he was happy about it or not. On the one hand, he didn’t want to have Hermione worry about him or, worse, fuss. He didn’t want her pity or her encouraging remarks. On the other hand, it hurt to hear her talk so friendly with Ginny when he was so hurt and angry about what she’d done.
What he was sure about, however, was that he didn’t want to be faced with Ginny and the whole mess right now. The longer he was awake – and had a clear mind – the more he remembered, and the more he remembered, the angrier he became. Right now, he felt like dumping the contents of his plate on Ginny’s head, and then dumping her.
But that would be messy, and besides, Ron and Hermione had just married and were so happy. He didn’t want to ruin their honeymoon by having them witness Ginny and he break up. Plus, he had no idea how Ron would react to the news.
And so Harry merely ducked his head and concentrated on his breakfast and ignored Ginny, who was trying to catch his eye as she sat down opposite him.
However, there were at least two people in the kitchen who apparently weren’t inclined to ignore the events of the previous evening. George jumped up and moved to sit on the other side of the table the moment Ginny had sat down, and Charlie greeted her with a somewhat caustic, ‘Slept well?’
Harry could almost feel Hermione’s confusion and curiosity. Then, George replied to Ginny’s request to hand her the teapot in a decidedly nasty voice, and Harry could hear Hermione take a breath to ask what was going on – Ron was thankfully still so focused on his wife that he was blind to his surroundings – and he knew he’d better say something, and fast, if he wanted to avoid a scene.
Thinking furiously, he found something just as Hermione had begun to ask, ‘What is—?’
‘Oh!’ he exclaimed and, sitting up straight, turned to Charlie. ‘I remember!’
Charlie blinked. Harry was aware that everyone was looking at him. For some reason, he couldn’t suppress a broad grin.
‘I remember last night,’ he added. ‘I still want to do it.’
He heard someone gasp and Ron said, ‘What? What’s he talking about?’
George, eyes wide, looked from Harry to Charlie. ‘Something happened I don’t know about?’
Charlie stared at Harry for a moment, clearly stunned. Then, understanding dawned in his eyes, and he began laughing. ‘Dammit, Harry, you’re something. All right, I’ll take you.’
Ginny dropped her mug, and Hermione squeaked, ‘What?’
George scratched his head. ‘We’re missing something here.’
‘Mate, what’re you talking about?’ Ron repeated.
Harry smiled at Ron. ‘A tattoo.’
‘Harry?’ Hermione pointed her wand at Ginny’s spilled tea while eying her friend questioningly. She looked … well, Harry wasn’t sure how she looked. Odd. He frowned.
‘What is it?’ He looked around. Charlie and George were both grinning broadly; Ron was clearly surprised; Ginny was pale and wide-eyed. ‘What’s up with you guys? I told Charlie last night that I wanted a tattoo, and he said that if I remember today when I’m sober again and still want to do it, he’ll take me to a tattoo artist.’ He looked back at Charlie. ‘Well, when do we go?’
Charlie leaned back in his chair, clearly amused. ‘I’ll Floo Pam and ask about an appointment for you.’
‘Oh, yes, Pam’s busy. I’ll let you know.’
Harry was a little disheartened. He’d wanted to go today.
‘You want a tattoo?’ Hermione repeated, baffled, and then started as Ron suddenly began to laugh uproariously. ‘Ron, what—?’
Ron slapped Harry’s shoulder. ‘A Hungarian Horntail or a Hippogriff?’ he wheezed.
Harry laughed but shook his head. ‘’M not telling you.’
‘Aw, come one!’
‘What are you—?’ Hermione began, but Ron interrupted her.
‘Come on, Hermione, don’t you remember that Vane girl that was after Harry? How she asked Ginny if Harry had a Hippogriff tattooed across his chest?’
Harry felt some of his delight fade at the mention of Ginny, and he pointedly did not look in her direction.
Hermione didn’t seem to find anything funny about the situation.
‘Yes, I remember, and so?’ she said coolly. ‘Harry isn’t getting a tattoo because a silly teenager asked a silly, invasive question about it four years ago.’ She stopped and glared at Harry. ‘Are you, Harry?’
‘Of course not,’ Harry snorted. ‘I just want a tattoo. I think it’s cool.’
‘Yes, but Harry, it’s not a decision you should make so quickly, after all, a tattoo will last for the rest of your life, and one day you might not like it anymore, you really should think about it for a little longer before you make a final decision and—’
‘Hermione, take a breath,’ George said lightly. ‘And stop mothering Harry. Just because you got Ronniekins henpecked doesn’t mean Harry can’t make decisions for himself.’
Hermione swelled to alarming proportions but before she could say anything, Mrs Weasley bustled into the kitchen.
‘Here, Hermione dear,’ she said and handed Hermione a basket. ‘I packed the remainder of the wedding cake for you. Oh, and you should hurry, the Portkey goes in five minutes.’
At her words, noise and hectic movement suddenly erupted in the Weasleys’ small kitchen. Everybody got up to their feet, talking and hugging. Crookshanks, who was to stay at the Weasleys’ until Hermione came back, slunk into the room and wound around their ankles, making Mrs Weasley stumbled over him and knock the coffeepot off the table, scalding Crookshanks.
Afterwards, things got a lot more chaotic.
Six minutes later, Harry walked back into the now deserted kitchen to finish his breakfast. Through the half-closed door, he could hear Mrs Weasley yelling at George. George had taken it upon himself to shout some last minute advice to Ron, and Mrs Weasley apparently thought it neither funny nor helpful at all. Charlie had grabbed Crookshanks when the yelling started and declared he’d look after the coffee-soaked cat. Harry was just wondering where Ginny had gone when she came into the kitchen.
Ducking his head, Harry wolfed his eggs down, hoping that when he didn’t look at her she wouldn’t talk to him. He really had no desire to hear what she had to say about her behaviour last night. The angry hurt in his chest, he knew, would explode into something more violent, and Harry really didn’t want to have a screaming row in Mrs Weasley’s kitchen
To his relief, Ginny didn’t say anything, just sat down and started fiddling with her plate and knife. Harry could feel her eyes on him. His skin prickled uncomfortably. Hastily, he swallowed the last bit of bacon and jumped up to dump his plate in the sink.
It seemed to have been the signal for Ginny. ‘Harry,’ she began, and Harry began to calculate how much she could say before he was able to escape through the door.
But Ginny didn’t continue, and a moment later, Mrs Weasley burst into the kitchen, red-faced and mumbling under her breath.
‘… this boy … not understand how, but of course … no shame … shouldn’t talk to his brother like that …’ She huffed and looked up. Her whole demeanour changed, almost scarily, the moment she saw Harry.
‘Oh, Harry dear, are you done with breakfast?’
‘Good, good. Would you mind, then, dear, to give Arthur and Bill a hand with the garden? The marquee has been taken down, but apparently the men aren’t responsible for the tables and chairs, not to forget all the things that people just dropped, you would think they’d be a bit more careful but the flower bed is littered with all kinds of things!’
Harry nodded. ‘Sure, I’ll go, Mrs Weasley.’
She beamed at him. ‘Wonderful, Harry, thank you so much! If everyone works hard, we can have the garden and house cleaned by afternoon.’
Harry didn’t know why having everything cleaned by afternoon was important, but he didn’t ask any questions, just nodded again and escaped through the kitchen door into the garden. Somewhere behind a bush, he could hear clattering, and then Mr Weasley swearing.
‘Damn gnomes. Out of my way! The next one I stumble over will be fed to the cat!’
There was the faint sound of giggling and rustling. The bush next to Harry shivered a little. He was about to walk around it to offer his help to whatever Mr Weasley was doing when a hand grabbed his elbow. Turning around, he suppressed a groan. It was Ginny.
‘I need to talk to you, Harry.’
Harry felt a fleeting dread, followed by anger boiling in his stomach. So she wanted to talk to him? Well, he didn’t want to talk to her. Right now, he’d rather not even see her. But of course he couldn’t say that; Ginny’d get loud, and then her father would hear and probably her mother, and Harry really didn’t want to talk about last night in front of them.
‘Later,’ he said harshly and tried to jerk his arm from her grip. For some reason, her touching him made his skin prickle and the bacon and eggs he’d eaten squirm. ‘We’ve got to clear up the garden, you heard your mum.’
But Ginny didn’t let go. Her nails dug into his skin. ‘Now,’ she said fiercely. And before Harry could protest again, she dragged him off, back into the house and through the kitchen into the living room, closing the door firmly behind her before she turned to Harry. Harry jammed his hands into his pockets and stared at the rug in front of the fireplace, avoiding her eyes. He could almost see Charlie stretched out on it, could almost see the golden dragon move under Charlie’s freckled skin.
‘Harry.’ Ginny sounded determined, and Harry cast a quick glance at the windows. They were closed. At least, the people in the garden wouldn’t hear them screaming. ‘We need to talk.’
Harry shrugged and grunted, not saying anything, wishing he was outside clearing up flowerbeds.
‘About the tattoo,’ Ginny began again after a moment’s silence.
That was so unexpected that Harry’s head jerked up. He stared at her. ‘About the tattoo?’ It seemed incredible. She had spent the better part of last night snogging another guy and she wanted to talk about his – so far non-existent – tattoo? ‘Whatever for?’
She crossed her arms in front of her chest. ‘Because what Hermione said is right. You’ll have it for the rest of your life.’
‘So what?’ Harry snapped. She couldn’t be trying to dictate him what to do, could she?
‘So you need to think about whether you really want it or not!’
‘Do I look stupid?’
Ginny blinked, clearly thrown off balance. ‘What?’
‘Do I look stupid?’ Harry repeated through clenched teeth. ‘Because, you know, I know that a tattoo is for life. Does it surprise you that I’ve already thought about it?’
‘Well, I just said you need to be sure,’ Ginny retorted defensively.
‘I am. Not that it’s your business,’ he couldn’t help add.
‘Not my business?’ Ginny’s voice rose. ‘Not my business when my boyfriend decides to get something printed into his skin? Without asking me whether I like it or not! And I don’t like it. So it’s my business. Don’t do it, Harry!’
Harry couldn’t believe what he was hearing. She didn’t like it and so she thought she could forbid him to do it? Even without last night, he couldn’t believe it.
The thought of her glued to that French bloke by the lips heated his anger to white-hot fury.
‘Oh, now she remembers,’ he sneered.
‘What are you—?’
‘I’m your boyfriend, eh? So, now you remember. How convenient.’ The words seemed to make it across Harry’s lips without his assistance.
‘Don’t talk in that tone to me,’ Ginny snapped. ‘And what do you mean, now I remember?’
‘Well, you did seem to have forgotten it last night, didn’t you?’
Ginny stared at him. She appeared so thoroughly surprised by what he had said that Harry couldn’t suppress an angry growl. His hands clenched into tight fists in his pocket. And then, to his surprise, Ginny smiled. A pleased, little smile.
‘Oh, Harry,’ she said gently. ‘Last night didn’t matter. It was just a bit of fun. I was just amusing myself, you know, nothing to worry about. Just what one does at a wedding. But your idea about the tattoo—’
Harry spluttered out of his shock. ‘It didn’t matter?’ he repeated, incredulous. The memory flashed again in front of his eyes. It hadn’t looked like “just a bit of fun” to him! ‘So you were only amusing yourself? Well, bully for you, but you know, if my tattoo is your business then it’s my business if my girlfriend is groping another guy, fun or not!’
‘I wasn’t groping him!’ Ginny cried. She sounded hurt, but Harry noticed her flushed cheeks and how she didn’t quite look into his eyes.
‘Oh, right, he was groping you,’ he said scathingly, bouncing on the balls of his feet, his body shaking with fury. ‘I’d have thought guys groping you earned them a Bat-Bogey-Hex. Funny, I didn’t see you do anything about it.’
‘Well, I couldn’t help it,’ Ginny said defensively. She was very red now. ‘He’s part Veela, you know—’
‘What, it’s okay for you to snog a guy because you can’t help it because he’s part-Veela but I can’t even say that Fleur’s smart because that’s cheating on you?’ Harry shouted.
‘—and you know the effect they have!’ Ginny continued, shouting as well.
‘And if that isn’t a handy excuse,’ Harry spat. ‘Not your fault at all, you just fell for the Veela-thing, eh? Could happen to anybody, eh?’
‘No, I didn’t. ‘Course, you were a bit busy and mightn’t’ve noticed, but I didn’t fawn all over Gabrielle. Or Fleur. Not even that bloke’s sister. Who are all part Veela.’
‘You made an idiot of yourself at the World Cup when Bulgaria played!’
Harry laughed harshly. ‘And that was, what, seven years ago? Oh, right.’
‘But you reacted to the Veela thing!’
‘Excuse me, I was fourteen! How old are you now? That’s your excuse for last night? You have no more control than a bloody teenager?’
‘Well, so I was snogging Michel.’ Ginny’s voice had risen to a shriek. She was breathing very fast, and her eyes glittered angrily. ‘It’s not like you did anything about it!’
‘What?! It’s my fault you were making out with him?’
‘Well, you could have done something! I’m your girlfriend, you should have done something!’
‘Like what? Hex him? Punch him and start a brawl at my best friends’ wedding because you can’t control yourself?’
‘At least he was willing to do anything with me!’ Ginny screamed. ‘You never pay attention to me!’
Harry almost chocked. ‘What? I never pay attention to you? Fuck, that’s rich! You spent the whole evening glued to that guy!’ Ginny made to retort, but Harry kept shouting. ‘Perhaps I’d’ve liked to spend some time with my girlfriend, only it was a bit difficult because my girlfriend was snogging another guy! Bit difficult to talk with you being glued by the lips to him!’
‘But I was only doing that because you ignored me!’ Ginny yelled, tears in her eyes. ‘You’ve been ignoring me for weeks! You’re never here, you never want to do anything, only play Quidditch and joke around with George and Charlie, and sometimes I just want you all for myself!’
‘And that’s why you go and make out with somebody else?’
‘I wanted you to notice me! And that I won’t wait forever for you to remember that I’m your girlfriend!’
That seemed so unfair to Harry that he could only gape at Ginny in stunned disbelief. Ginny gave an angry sob and wiped her eyes.
‘I … I have ignored you?’ Harry asked when he’d found his voice again. ‘You think that I have forgotten you’re my girlfriend?’
‘What was I to think?’ she asked angrily. ‘You’re always busy and when you’re not, you don’t want to do anything or go out! Just stay here and hang around and do nothing.’
Harry shook his head. ‘I’m ignoring you because I don’t like being hunted by the press? Because I don’t want all of the wizarding world know what I said to you on our “romantic candle-light dinner”? That’s why you were snogging the French bloke?’
Ginny’s flush deepened a shade or two. ‘That’s … that’s not … You ignore me, Harry! You don’t want to go out with me. You don’t treat me like your girlfriend. You … you don’t even want to have sex with me!’
A ringing silence followed her cry. Harry blinked, trying to understand what Ginny was saying.
‘I don’t want to have sex with you and so you make out with somebody else to make me want to have sex with you?’
Well, that was rubbish. Harry could feel the fury well up again, even more blinding and violent than before.
‘Fuck,’ he spat. ‘That’s the shittiest excuse I’ve ever heard. You want to make out with another guy at least be honest and say so!’
‘That’s not an excuse!’ Ginny gasped. ‘I—’
‘You what? Make it all my fault so I end up feeling guilty and then you can be the noble, forgiving girlfriend?’
Ginny flinched, and Harry felt viciously vindicated. He was so angry with her now, not only because of what she’d done last night but also of how she was trying to manipulate him, he could only stammer.
‘F-fuck, I’m n-not playing this … this game! If you so want to h-have s-sex with someone, you g-go and shag Veela boy!’
‘Well, at least he wants to have sex with me!’ Ginny screeched. ‘You never do! I wonder if you like girls at all!’
‘I like girls plenty!’ Harry bellowed. His voice was so loud he could easily ignore the little whisper in his mind that suggested that perhaps Ginny might not have been so far off the mark. ‘Perhaps I just don’t like being bitched at and pestered all the time!’
‘Bitched?!’ Ginny shrieked, but Harry was on a roll.
‘Perhaps I’m tired after Auror training!’ he yelled. ‘Or perhaps I don’t want to shag you in your parents’ house with your mum prone to bursting into your room without knocking! Or with George eavesdropping! Or in Grimmauld Place, with Kreacher popping into the room the moment I open my mouth! Ever thought about that, eh?’
Ginny’s mouth had dropped open. Her colour faded and then came back with a vengeance. ‘Harry …’
But he wasn’t at all inclined to listen to anything she wanted to say. ‘No, you never did, did you? Instead you went ahead and tried to make it my fault and then guilt me into doing what you want! Well, fuck! I really don’t need that!’
And with that, he shoved past her, still ignoring her as she tried to speak and roughly yanking his arm free when she grabbed it again. Trembling with fury, he stalked through the kitchen and out into the garden, not looking at Mrs Weasley and George, who were sitting at the kitchen table, frozen in their seats. They had obviously heard everything that had been said, and Harry felt his anger intensify even further. This was exactly what he’d wanted to avoid, anyone hearing him row with Ginny.
He slammed the kitchen door behind him, hoping feverishly that they would leave him alone, and went to look for work that needed to be done.
Fortunately, neither Mr Weasley nor Bill had heard the screaming, or at least nothing they said or did indicated that they had. They greeted Harry happily, told him what needed to be done, and then he was left to his own devices to murmur spells to clean up the flowerbeds, only occasionally interrupted by a shout for help or a curse when one of the other men stumbled over a gnome.
Harry forced himself on concentrating on the cleaning-up. It wasn’t easy to remember the correct spells, though, with the anger still boiling inside of him and all kinds of thoughts whirling through his head. And Ginny’s accusations of him not liking girls and of not wanting to have sex with her kept nagging at him.
True, he’d never let her seduce him and had never tried to do more than kissing and mild groping with her but, dammit, he’d had his reasons! Good reasons, too! They weren’t excuses. Auror training was draining, and he’d really rather not be intimate with his girlfriend anywhere near Mrs Weasley or Kreacher.
Besides, Ron would have killed him had he done anything with Ginny.
There. Perfectly good reasons. Why couldn’t she see? And perhaps he just was someone who wasn’t that interested in sex. He knew other guys at his age were very much interested, but then, they hadn’t grown up with the Dursleys – or had bits of Voldemort’s soul inside of their heads for most of their lives. So what if he was different? It wasn’t his fault.
With an angry huff, Harry Accio’d the remains of a balloon from a rose bush and then fought with the bush for the shreds of a flower garland, all the while fuming silently about the unfairness of Ginny’s words and actions. He was still seething about her attempt to run his life – forbid him to get a tattoo because she didn’t like it – when he took down the fairy lights that had been spread through the tall hedge around the garden.
By the time he was stuffing the rubbish he’d collected into large bags, he was trying to fend off mild unease. He kept coming back to Ginny’s accusation about him not liking girls.
Feeling rather uncomfortable, Harry rubbed his neck. Images from last night flashed through his mind, images of Charlie’s naked back, of the way his thin trousers outlined his arse, and how his skin had felt under Harry’s fingertips. He remembered the fluttery feeling in his stomach. That hadn’t been the champagne, Harry was sure. It had been Charlie.
And once Harry had connected these two particular dots, he remembered all the other times he had got that particular fluttery feeling around Charlie. There was even the odd time or two Harry could remember from Hogwarts …
Before he could come to a result, a voice jerked him from his musings.
Charlie had appeared next to him, grinning a little. There were fading scratches along his underarms.
‘You all right?’ Charlie asked.
‘Yeah, fine.’ Harry didn’t dare look at him too closely.
‘What did the lampion do, then?’
Charlie pointed at the Snitch-shaped, yellow lampion Harry had been crumpling in his hands. ‘You’ve been glaring at it as if it had offended you.’
‘Oh.’ Harry felt his cheeks heat. ‘Just thinking.’
‘Hmhm.’ Charlie said nothing more, just looked at him, and Harry prayed that he hadn’t been talking to his mother or George, that no one had told Charlie that he’d been arguing with Ginny. Finally, however, Charlie just shrugged.
‘Okay. Listen, I Floo’d Pam. If you still want to get a tattoo, we can go any time this afternoon. Pam’s free.’
Harry immediately brightened. ‘Oh, wow, cool! Yeah, I still want to and we can go anytime. Like, now.’
Charlie grinned broadly. ‘You’d better wash first. You’re a bit … leafy.’ And he plucked a leaf from Harry’s hair.
Harry shook his head, and two more leafs fluttered down. ‘Okay, can we go now?’
In the end, Harry had a quick shower before they left. He’d been sweating while tidying the garden, and Charlie had explained that it was better if Harry showed up with clean skin for the tattoo. Harry had hesitated at first, not wanting to go inside of the house and running the danger of meeting anyone he didn’t want to meet. But the door to Ginny’s room had been firmly shut and Harry had only seen George, who thankfully hadn’t commented in any way on the row he’d overheard earlier.
It was a little after three o’clock when Charlie and Harry Floo’d to Diagon Alley. Harry wondered why they couldn’t have Floo’d into this Pam’s shop directly, but when he asked, Charlie laughed and said, ‘The last time anyone tried to walk through, they ended up purple. And I mean purple; hair, eyes, skin and everything. No one knows why. But ever since people prefer to walk into his shop.’
Harry blinked as they left the public Floo station and stepped into Diagon Alley. It was Sunday and most shops were closed, with the exception of the cafés and pastry shops. There were still a lot of people milling around, and Harry attracted a fair amount of stares and waves. But for once, he was too busy to notice.
‘His?’ he repeated in surprise. ‘But you said your friend’s name was Pam!’
Charlie grinned. ‘Oh, it is. He started life as Paul-Andrew Mockridge – hyphenated; his mother insisted – but no one calls him anything but Pam, really. He has been Pam for ages – he was in my year at Hogwarts, you know, and one of the first things he did was punching a Hufflepuff’s nose for calling him Paul-Andrew.’
‘But Pam’s a girl’s name! Doesn’t he mind?’ Harry was horrified at the idea of being called anything girlish.
‘He says everything is better than Paul-Andrew.’ Charlie shrugged and strolled down Diagon Alley, past a little café where everyone craned their necks to get a look at Harry. ‘And after the punch we all saw him land, no one was inclined to even hint that he was the slightest bit girlish.’ He turned his head to look at Harry and winked. ‘We still teased him quite dreadfully, of course.’
Harry grinned, a little hesitantly. He still thought being called a girl’s name was awful.
‘Wait till you see him,’ Charlie went on, having apparently seen Harry’s doubt.
‘Hmm, you’ll see. He doesn’t look much like a girl.’
Harry shrugged. ‘Why is his shop open, anyway? It’s Sunday, after all.’
‘Oh, it’s not open. But Pam can usually be found in his studio, and when I Floo’d, he said it was okay to come over, no problem.’
Harry groaned. ‘Don’t tell me. The famous Harry Potter and everything.’
‘No.’ Charlie grinned at Harry’s suspicious expression. ‘I didn’t tell him it was you who wanted the tattoo. Just said a friend of mine.’
‘He’ll be delighted, though, when he finds out it’s you.’
‘Yeah, I’d think so,’ Harry sighed.
‘Oh, no, not what you think. Though I daresay he’ll think it absolutely smashing to be able to tell people he was allowed to, ah, gild your skin. But, you know, he’ll be far more interested in working with your magic to create your tattoo, that’s what he says is best about his job. Oh, and he just loves tattoo virgins, which you are, of course.’
‘Uh…’ Harry slowed imperceptibly down, not sure he wanted to meet the tattooist anymore.
‘Ah, ah, no bolting, now.’ Charlie took hold of Harry’s elbow and dragged him along. ‘Look, there’s his shop.’
Harry peered at the small, high house wedged in between a second-hand bookshop and the large, sprawling shopfront of Twilfitt and Tattings. A brightly painted sign hung over the door, showing a bucket of colour-changing paint and a brush that shot sparks. Harry was still craning his neck to read the name on the sign when Charlie pulled him inside.
Harry blinked in surprise. They were standing in a small, dim saleroom. The walls were covered with canvasses, some with frames and some without, depicting witches, wizards, and the odd landscape. The portraits all turned to look at the visitors, but Harry was surprised that none of them said anything, though they waved and pointed agitatedly enough.
‘Pam!’ Charlie bellowed through the silence.
‘Up here!’ they heard a faint voice call from somewhere above them.
‘Come on, Harry.’
Charlie strolled towards the counter, opened the little door in it and motioned Harry to follow him.
‘But, Charlie,’ Harry said slowly, ‘this is … I mean, this is a painter’s shop! I mean, didn’t you say your friend was a tattooist?’
‘He is,’ Charlie said as he preceded Harry in climbing a narrow staircase. ‘He’s a painter, and a damn good one, too. But his hobby – or his vocation, as he calls it – is creating tattoos.’
‘But how does that go together?’ Harry asked, a little distracted by the way Charlie’s jeans clung to his backside.
‘It’s all magical paint, isn’t it?’ Charlie replied. He had reached the landing and marched through a half-open door. Harry, still not understanding and feeling a little dazed, followed him into a room so full of light he had to squeeze his eyes close.
‘Hullo, Pam,’ he heard Charlie say. ‘Why am I so not surprised to find you here?’
Harry slowly opened his eyes and blinked, trying to adjust to the brightness.
He heard another man chuckle. ‘Cheers, Charlie. Gotta make use of the light, don’t I?’
Harry’s eyes had adjusted sufficiently for him to see the shadows of several easels in the surprisingly large room at the back of the house. The entire wall opposite the door seemed to consist of windows through which the bright afternoon sunlight fell. The floor was spattered with a multitude of colourful stains. The walls were covered with sketches. Harry was stunned to see more than one of them move.
‘So, where’s my victim?’ the man called Pam said, and Harry turned his head into the direction of the voice.
The first thing he noticed were the robes the man wore. They might once have been dark blue, but it was difficult to tell as the robes were spattered – over and over – with paint. Colour-changing paint. What was seen between the swirling spots was faded into a dark grey.
Looking away from the robes, Harry understood why the man didn’t mind the girlish name. No one could have looked less like a girl. Pam was rather tall and completely bald. As if to compensate, he sported a long, somewhat shaggy goatee. His left eye was brown, the right one blue. His knotty hands and forearms were covered in layers of different colours. The colours seemed to be moving as well.
The overall result made Harry feel rather dizzy.
‘That’s a friend of mine,’ Charlie said. He reappeared at Harry’s side and, putting one hand on his shoulder, pushed him forwards. ‘Harry, that’s Pam. Pam, that’s Harry.’
Harry looked at the man and saw his mismatched eyes widen.
‘Gosh,’ he said. His face broke into a wide grin and he held a paint-covered hand out for Harry to shake. ‘Harry Potter. That’s a surprise. Didn’t know you knew Charlie.’
Harry shook the hand, murmuring a greeting. He felt a bit uncomfortable, as he always did when people recognised him at a glance.
‘He went to Hogwarts with my youngest brother,’ Charlie said, amused. ‘Which you would know if you would ever pay attention to things that don’t involve paint.’
‘Yes, yes, I know, I’m an absent-minded recluse and the smell of the paint’s gone to my head, or something like that.’ Pam waved a negligent hand at Charlie while his other still held Harry’s in a surprisingly strong grip. His eyes ran over Harry’s face and body with a strangely detached but piercing expression. Finally, he let go of Harry’s hand with a nod.
‘Well, it’s certainly very interesting to meet you,’ he said to Harry. ‘It’ll be even more interesting to work with you. You do want a tattoo, don’t you?’
Pam nodded, once more scanning Harry with the strange expression. It made his brown eye look almost black. ‘You do. How come?’
‘Er…’ Harry felt slightly taken aback by the abrupt question. He glanced at Charlie, who was watching them, arms crossed and leaning against an easel. ‘Uh, well, I … I saw Charlie’s tattoo last night. And, dunno, I liked it and that kind of made me want one, too.’
He flushed, mildly embarrassed with his stuttering and at not being able to explain better. But, really, that was all the reason he could give. Pam didn’t seem impressed, though.
‘Hm.’ Pam eyed Harry. ‘Charlie’s tattoo, eh?’
‘Um, yeah. I think it’s really … really cool. Brilliant,’ he added as he remembered how the dragon had looked, sleeping under Charlie’s skin. ‘It looks so real, as if it’s alive. Not just, dunno, a tattoo, but kind of a real creature, just there, under the skin. And … and just sleeping.’
He stopped, flushing again, but Pam was nodding at him. ‘Kind of a real creature,’ he repeated with a small smile.
‘Yeah,’ Harry hastened to add, worried he had insulted the artist, ‘it looked as if it was moving, breathing, you know. Might’ve been the light, though.’
But he seemed to have said the right thing, because Pam was grinning broadly. ‘You saw the dragon move, eh?’ He turned to Charlie. ‘You didn’t mention that.’
Harry looked between the two men. Charlie was shifting uncomfortably while Pam was chuckling softly. Harry frowned, a little confused.
‘But I didn’t tell him that I thought it moved,’ he told Pam.
The other man grinned at him. ‘Oh, if you think you saw it moving, it did move. Charlie would have felt that. Interesting, that, very interesting.’
‘Tattoos really move?’ Harry asked, surprised.
‘Yup, they do.’ Pam nodded. ‘They’re magical tattoos, after all, and they’re connected to the body’s magic. Agitated wizard makes for an agitated tattoo.’
‘You mean the tattoo moves over the body?’
‘Oh, no, not that! No one is that good. But they do move, sometimes more and sometimes less, depending on what the body is feeling and on the magic it is doing,’ Pam explained.
Pam laughed at that and gestured Harry to the door. ‘Well, then, let’s go and get you a tattoo.’ He waved his wand over his shoulder, and the brushes and paint he had used began tidying up. ‘Charlie, what about you? Are you staying?’
‘If Harry won’t mind.’
Charlie sounded a bit nervous, Harry thought, and he was still looking a tad uncomfortable, with his hands jammed into the pocket of his jeans like that and his shoulders hunched up.
‘That okay, Harry?’ Pam asked. ‘If he stays?’
Harry, hoping that Charlie would stop being so ill at ease, nodded. ‘Yes, of course.’
Pam chuckled again. ‘Ah, well. Let’s get going then. Follow me, Harry.’