Title: Unexpected Visitor
Fandom: Harry Potter
Disclaimer: I'm not JKR and I get nothing for this. How much clearer must I be?
Summary: Charlie's sick in bed and gets an... well, you can read the title well enough. And sometimes unexpected visitors can be the best kind :-)
Notes: This could possibly follow 'Day After' or be a completely on its own thing referring to another cold of Charlie's. I can't figure out in my mind which I like better, but it follows 'Day After' very well.
Charlie woke, but did not open his eyes. He gave himself a moment, trying to see whether he could fall back to sleep or not. A second later, he felt a tickle in his nose and decided the answer was not. His head was heavy with congestion, thumping every time he tried to breathe, which was difficult as well as he was so stuffed-up. The blankets swirled around him were warm and heavy as well. But he had to sneeze, and after that he was sure he would need tissues. But Charlie didn't want to move.
The tickle built slowly and steadily. He tried to fall back to sleep before it struck but was unsuccessful. "ihhhh-AYEhhhh! Aiiiishhh! Sniff!" He rubbed his nose into his shoulder rather than a tissue, and curled up into a tighter ball amidst his nest of pillows and blankets.
He felt something warm move against his back and smiled weakly. "Vlad? Roddy?" The two frequently snuggled up with him in bed, though during the earlier stages of his cold, neither had been too particularly fond of his sneezes. Charlie lifted his head and opened his eyes to check. Neither of his pets were in sight. And, instead, he saw a hand on his shoulder. He coughed and looked over to the body attached to it. "Bill?"
Bill raised his head, the long, straight red hair that wasn't pulled back was framing his face. He smiled and nodded. "In the flesh." With several tissues in hand, he reached down and wiped Charlie's nose for him. Charlie barely flinched, though he did rub his nose into the tissues a little bit. "Tea?" Bill asked, tossing the tissues away and gesturing towards a teacup on one of the nearby shelves; Charlie had no nightstand.
Charlie nodded and tried to extricate himself from the tangles of blankets in order to sit up. Bill helped him, supporting him and then tucking pillows and blankets around him to keep him warm. Charlie left the covers at his waist and pulled his arms out from beneath. With his grey sweatshirt on, his broad shoulders looked even broader and his muscular arms looked even bulkier than normal. Carefully, Bill handed over the cup of tea. Charlie blew into it, then sipped it. "Oh, Bill," he sighed, his shoulders sagging. "Just like Mum's. Thank you." He drank more.
"Thought you looked like you could use it," Bill said, a soft smile seemed stuck on his face. Charlie found it comforting. "All snuggled up in the center of your bed, snoring while you slept. Must be a pretty rotten cold."
After a few more sips, Charlie lifted his head and nodded. "I've been miserable. But it's a little better now." He didn't even sound as stuffy as before. He cleared his throat and looked straight at Bill, who was sitting in a kitchen chair beside the bed with a book open on his lap. Thus far, he'd refrained from blurting out the question, but could not hold back any longer. "So... Bill... why in the world are you suddenly here?"
Bill chuckled. "A couple of your friends sent me an owl. Said you were feeling sick and a little lonely. I thought you could use your big brother's care."
Charlie smiled sheepishly. "You're not wrong about that. But I hope you weren't dragged away from anything important? Work?"
"I was due for a few days of vacation. Would have come over here to spend them with you anyway," Bill admitted, shaking his head. Being a curse breaker was a somewhat strenuous and arduous thing, and they were allowed frequent short vacations after every few months of solid, hard work. "But I'm sorry it has to be because you're not feeling well." He reached over and touched Charlie's forehead. "Not running a fever, are you?"
Charlie shook his head. "I'm very glad you came... even if I... ihhh... oh..." Bill quickly took what remained of his tea and pressed a whole handful of tissues to Charlie's nose for him in time. "aihhh-Kuffff! Aykfffff! Chufff!" Bill rather expertly wiped Charlie's nose and re-bunched the tissues in his hand before holding them back up to Charlie's nose so he could blow. Which is what he did, several times, until his nose felt a little less full and a little less tickly. When done, he sighed weakly.
Bill tossed the tissues away and set the teacup aside. Then he pushed back the chair, careful not to slam it into the fish tank, and shoved Charlie over in bed a few inches so he could sit beside. He put an arm around Charlie's shoulders and pulled the man into his side. "Besides, you know I don't mind when you're a little sniffly." He shrugged. "Everyone gets sick from time to time. Colds happen." He smiled and squeezed Charlie's shoulders. "Just don't give yours to me."
Charlie laughed, coughed, and drank some water in that order. Then his breath hitched with the need to sneeze again. He reached out unsteadily for the tissues, but Bill was on top of the situation. He cupped a handful of tissues to Charlie's nose again. "aye-Chffff! Aiiiie-Shufff! aiiiKhfff!" He quickly rubbed his nose into the tissues. "You dow, if you dod't wadt to catch this, you should brobably let be blow by owd dose."
Bill laughed and passed him the tissue box. "Sorry. Force of habit. Older brother syndrome." Even though both Bill and Charlie thought of each other more as equals in age, especially considering the age difference between them and some of their even younger siblings, sometimes Bill couldn't resist pulling rank. And sometimes Charlie rather liked it.
As Charlie blew his nose, Vlad came in to check on them. Bill put down his hand for Vlad. Vlad sniffed it and immediately began wagging his forked tail. All of Charlie's pets were quite familiar with Bill, since he frequently visited. Then he leaped up onto Bill's lap. It knocked the wind out of him for a moment, then he laughed again. Vlad turned a circle on Bill's lap then settled down upon it with his head in Charlie's lap. He sniffed at the tissue box, then pushed it off the rest of Charlie's lap jealously. Bill started petting Vlad with his free hand, stopping in order to cover a strong yawn.
Charlie noticed it and nudged Bill. "You look tired. How long have you been here?"
Bill shrugged. "About an hour. I took a portkey over but it took a little while to clear customs. Then I apparated here. The trip wasn't bad, but I'm a little tired after my last few days at work." He patted Charlie's upper arm with the hand that was around his shoulders. "How about I make you something hot to eat and I'll tell you all about my last trip up the
Charlie nodded enthusiastically. His friends had brought by home-cooked food when they came by to check on him, but there was nothing like Bill's cooking. It always reminded him of his childhood, and it always made him feel better, especially with Bill's stories to accompany them.
Bill transferred Vlad over to Charlie, then started towards the kitchen. He paused in the doorway, looking back at Charlie. Charlie smiled back at him. "I'm so glad you came to visit," Charlie said, pausing in the task of pulling tissues out of the box for his next round of sneezes.
"When I heard my little brother was sick, how could I stay away?" Bill said, still smiling that soft, comforting smile. "You know how much I like feeling useful."
Charlie nodded with understanding. He liked feeling like that, too. He knew Bill was perfectly capable of finding his way around the kitchen, but he eased Vlad off himself and sat up. "I'm going to go wash up and help you in the kih... kitch... heh... kihhh-chen-ehhhPshhhh! Aiii-Tchhhh! aiiiShhhh!" He snuffled and blew into his tissues.
Bill returned to the bed and tucked the blankets more tightly around Charlie. "If you can't even manage to say it, you shouldn't be working in it." He ruffled Charlie's hair. "You sit tight and I'll bring it in to you." He took the used tissues from Charlie's hand and tossed them into the trashcan beside the bed with the others. He replaced them with clean tissues, several layers thick and folded. "Give me a call if you need something. A drink or another blanket or anything else, okay?"
"I think I'm supposed to take some more headache pills." He rubbed his hand against the back of his neck. "Is it past five?"
"Only just. I saw the bottle in the bathroom. I'll get them for you." He locked eyes with Vlad, then patted Charlie's lap. "Here, Vlad, you keep your Daddy warm and in bed while Uncle Billy makes some food." Bill turned and headed out again. Vlad climbed right back onto Charlie's lap, turning in a circle then lying down again. Charlie stroked Vlad's head, the short brown and white fur feeling soft underhand. He closed his eyes, smiled, and waited for Bill's return.