Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairings: Neville/Charlie, canon ones
Disclaimer: These characters and their world are brought to you by the letters JKR and WB. I make NO money whatsoever. I'm only doing this for fun.
Summary: For the first time since they started dating, Charlie comes down with a cold. Neville expected a runny nose and maybe being cuddled to death. He didn't expect this.
Charlie sat in bed with his hand clamped over his forehead. The latest issue of Quidditch Quarterly lay open on his lap, but he wasn't reading it any longer. His eyes were closed and there was a slight grimace on his face.
Neville came in from the bathroom, a large towel wrapped around his waist and the rest of him damp but not dripping. As he pulled warm pajamas out of the dresser, he called back to Charlie. “Have you taken anything for that headache, love?”
Charlie spoke softly, as though anything louder than a whisper would case his head to implode. “Yes, but it doesn't seem to be doing any good.” He switched hands and winced again. “I think, maybe, I'm coming down with something.”
Curious, Neville finished pulling on his pajama pants and went over. “Something bad or something not quite so bad, do you think?”
He didn't want to risk shaking his head or shrugging, but he opened his eyes as Neville climbed into bed. “No way to know yet.”
Neville set the magazine aside and helped ease Charlie down into bed. “If I can get your anything, just wake me up and ask,” Neville whispered. “Or if my snoring or moving about hurts you, I'll just grab a blanket and kip on the couch, all right?”
Charlie pulled Neville close, spooning, wrapping arms and a leg around his lover. “Just keep me warm and cozy, Nev. Maybe this headache will be the worst of it.”
When the sun struck Neville's face, Neville tried to pretend he didn't feel it. Charlie's almost constant coughing and sneezing had kept him awake for most of the night. The man had only passed out from exhaustion an hour before. The loud, bed-shaking snores from Charlie's stuffed-up head meant Neville couldn't follow suit with the sleep. Neville had been told he, himself, snored, and now he wondered how in the world any of his lovers could sleep beside him. The sun kept striking him, brighter and brighter, hotter and hotter, trying to rouse him. Neville was stubborn and insisted he was comfortable.
A crash from the other room made Neville sit bolt upright in bed. Charlie stirred beside him, but did not wake. Neville carefully slipped out of bed and headed down the hall. If Roddy needed breakfast, he would have appeared in the bedroom, most likely on top of them in bed. And if Vlad wanted breakfast, he would have nuzzled and nosed at the door until it opened for him. Neither of Charlie's pets would have torn the kitchen apart. And… neither of them would have brewed coffee.
Neville had never heard of an intruder who brewed coffee either, but clearly someone else had invited himself into the flat. It wasn't uncommon for Charlie's coworkers to drop in on them to take care of the animals on long work days, but this was quite out of the ordinary. So if it wasn't the pets and wasn't friends… Neville had no idea who it could be apart from a robber.
The great Snake Slayer pulled out his wand as he tip-toed down the hallway. There was a loud bang and a creak and a thump. Neville silently cleared his throat. Then, with a deep breath, he called out, “Drop that and leave and there won't be any trouble.” There was another thud, which Neville imagined was the culprit putting down a bag of the items he'd nicked. But the tell-tale pop of someone apparating away, or the sound of the door opening and closing could not be heard. So Neville raised his wand and leaped from the hallway into the kitchen with a “Stupify!”
The jet of red light from his want hit a burst of silver light and dissipated, leaving Neville face-to-face with a lovely, blond beauty. It took Neville a few moments to speak, but that still wasn't enough time for him to figure out what in the world a Tri-Wizard Champion was doing in his kitchen. He tried his best to think of something he could say, but words completely failed him, apart from, “What?”
The strange thing was that she looked just as confused. She clearly wasn't expecting to see Neville standing there in his PJs, having just tried to attack her first thing in the morning. She blinked at him.
Neville jumped, startled, as someone raced around from the living room, hands up to indicate he had no wand. “Hold it, hold it!” He stood between them, holding his hands out to indicate they shouldn't duel. Neville recognized the man from the battle against the Death Eaters in sixth year, but, even if he hadn't, it wouldn't have been difficult to figure out who he was. His flaming red hair indicated that he was a Weasley. And as Neville knew Percy, the twins, Ron and Ginny, well, and Charlie of course, this could only be Bill. Which accounted for Fleur, because she was married to him. But the question still remained: what were they doing there?
Neville lowered his wand. “Um, nice to see you both but what are you doing in my kitchen?”
“Your kitchen?” Bill asked.
“Yeah,” Neville said. He pointed about. “Those are my spoons and that's my tea service and my rolling pin and what are you doing here?” He couldn't understand how they were invading his flat and they were the ones who looked confused.
“I thought we were coming to pay Charlie a visit—”
“Funny,” Neville said. “He didn't mention you visiting. I think I'd remember if he had, because then I wouldn't have just had a heart attack and tried to stun you.” He tucked his wand into the waistband of his pants. “Sorry about that, by the way, but you gave me quite a fright.”
“Here.” Fleur turned and handed Neville and Bill cups of tea. “We will sit and talk, oui? Like civilized people? No 'arm done.”
Neville glanced worriedly down the hallway, but he didn't hear any coughing or sneezing, so it was safe to say Charlie was still asleep. “Okay.” He sipped the tea, which wasn't half bad. It could use a little cream, but otherwise it was nice.
They took seats in the living room, as the little wooden table in the kitchen only sat two. Neville noticed a few bags and suitcases in the corner of the living room, commensurate with their explanation about coming for a visit.
“The thing is,” Bill began, not even touching his tea. “Every time Charlie falls ill, I come to look after him. Weasleys take care of each other, you know? I had no idea he had a roommate.”
Neville nearly choked on his tea. Roommate?
“We have this connection, Charlie and I. Sometimes I can just tell when he's not feeling well. And… sometimes I hear from his friends at the Dragon Reserve. This time Fleur wanted to come along. She's never seen Romania.”
“We're sorry to 'ave startled you.”
Neville nodded. “I was half asleep and heard the noise. I didn't know about this… connection of yours. I'm sorry I overreacted.” He leaned forward, hands around his teacup, arms stretched out upon the table. “But the thing is, Charlie doesn't really need three people looking after him.”
They got his meaning, though it took a few seconds to hit them full-force. And then Bill dropped his teacup.
When it hit the floor, it shattered into no fewer than fifty pieces and made quite a racket. Bill apologized profusely, but Neville repaired the cup. “No bother. I break a cup once a month.”
The sound had, apparently, woken Charlie, because the man came shuffling down the hall. “Nev?” He stopped in the entrance to the living room, taking in the sight of the three people and the puddle of tea Neville was mopping up. “Oh Merlin…”
“Not sure Merlin gets a say on this matter,” Bill said. “Since when do you... I mean to say, how long have you been… rather—“
Charlie cut him off with a sneeze. “heh-Yihshhh!”
At that, Neville moved instinctively to Charlie's side. He didn't get sweet and cuddly, because he wasn't sure what Charlie wanted his family to see. But Charlie needed to sit down and needed a tissue. Neville was sure he would settle of a napkin, though. He guided Charlie to a chair and handed over a napkin from the tea tray with a soft, “Bless you.” After he handed it over, however, Charlie grabbed his hand and wouldn't let go. Neville got the message and sat down next to Charlie, who leaned into him for warmth, even after Neville threw the throw blanket from the couch around his shoulders.
Charlie sniffled and looked at his brother and sister-in-law. “This isn't how I wanted you to find out.”
“It's one hell of a shock, that's for sure.”
Neville rolled his eyes. “Tell me about it!”
Charlie looked from Bill to Neville and back again. “I didn't think you'd be coming, Bill, now that you have a wife and family.”
“Mum and Dad are looking after Victiore for us. Of course I'd come look after you. I always have before. And after so many times you'd think I'd be privy to a little honesty.” Bill stared unblinkingly at Charlie. “All those times when you said you weren't looking for a girl. Those times when you said you were dating someone but wouldn't give me a name. I mean, I know the dragon reserve is a bit freer than most places but, really man, you could have said!”
“And have Mum flip out on me? I don't think so. Easier to move to Romania and get out of everyone's hair.”
“A hundred times we talked. You could have said. Could have at least hinted.”
“And risk alienating my older brother and best friend? How… huh-YihShuhh! How could I just owl you out of the blue with news that I've fallen for my young brother's former classmate and, oh, he happens to be a bloke?”
Fleur set down her cup and looked at Neville. “So, you are not ze roommate, zen?” She said it with a hint of amusement in her voice, as if the tension was entirely beneath her.
Neville shook his head. “I'm not the roommate.”
She rose from her chair. “Euh. Perhaps you'll 'elp me? We'll be needing breakfast.”
Glad of an excuse to leave the Weasleys to each other, Neville still hesitated as Charlie squeezed his hand. Then he nodded at Fleur. “One moment.” He squeezed Charlie's hand back. “Is your head still hurting? Can I get you another pain potion? Some proper tissues?”
Charlie nodded and sniffled. “Thank you,” he whispered. He cupped his hand with the napkin to his nose and mouth as he snapped forward at the waist. “ehh-IhShhhh! Heh-Yihshhh!”
Bill spoke up, “We brought some supplies. Should be in a bag on the kitchen table.”
Neville found the bag and was suitably impressed by its contents. One box of tissues and a pain potion later, Neville joined Fleur in the kitchen for breakfast. They moved about silently, not at ease with each other and trying to avoid getting in each other's ways. As Fleur got out a tray, however, she laid a hand on Neville's shoulder. “I do not understand ze big deal, as zey say. I, for one, am glad Bill's brother found someone who cares for 'im.”
Neville shook his head. “Loving Charlie is easy. I'm just amazed I found someone who cares for me.” Some days—most days—he didn't understand why anyone would. But he got the feeling that Charlie felt like that sometimes, too. Which is what made Neville's belly flutter excitedly every time Charlie hugged him or kissed him or gave him one of those looks that made Neville feel like Charlie's whole world.
Fleur giggled. “Zese Weasley men. Zey are irresistible, non?”
“They certainly are.”
When they brought the breakfast to the living room, Bill was sitting on the couch beside Charlie. Charlie's head was on his brother's shoulder, and Bill's arm was around his brother's middle. “He fell asleep,” Bill mouthed. So, clearly, Bill wasn't exactly revolted or miffed at Charlie.
Neville smiled as Charlie gave another monstrous snore. It made Bill chuckle and Fleur jump.
Bill accepted a plate of waffles from Fleur and balanced it on the arm of the couch so he wouldn't disturb Charlie. Charlie seemed completely zonked out, though. The medicine must have gotten to him. Bill ate hungrily and once Neville tasted the waffles, he couldn't blame him; they were amazingly good. “We're sorry to have invaded. We really had no idea,” Bill told Neville. “If you want us gone, we can go.”
Charlie's snore seemed to raise an objection with that. “You don't need to leave. I was going to take the morning off at work.” Neville felt like he had been awake for days. There was no way he would make it through cataloging all the plant samples without nodding off. “But I'd feel a whole lot better going to work this afternoon if you were here to look after Charlie.”
So many plants. On a normal day, Neville would have been in heaven surrounded by so many samples. But even the repetition and order involved in cataloging them all couldn't keep his mind from what was happening back at home. He ended up leaving a few minutes early, knowing that the hours of unpaid overtime he had worked over the past few months was enough to ease his conscience. Besides, the plant samples could wait another day. Charlie Weasley couldn't.
Neville returned home to find Bill and Fleur making dinner and Charlie sitting up in bed with Quidditch Quarterly. It was doubtful he was getting much reading done, considering he stopped to sneeze every half a minute. But when he saw Neville, he stretched his arms out, flexing his fingers.
Neville tossed his cloak onto a chair and went to him. Charlie was warm. Sniffly, but warm. And the embrace endured, drawing Neville up onto the bed with him. He let Charlie hold him close, cuddle him. He pulled a couple tissues out of the box and held them to Charlie's nose as the man snapped forward again, so the embrace wouldn't end. “Yih-Shooo! Ihhh-Hitchh!” He rubbed Charlie's nose and murmured reassurances. He kissed Charlie's cheek, loving the roughness of stubble on his tough man. And he completely forgot they had company in the flat with them.
A throat being cleared over at the doorway drew Neville's attention, and then the younger man blushed. Afraid it might be a little uncomfortable for Bill to see them snuggling in bed, Neville tried to pull away, but Charlie held on, and Charlie was much stronger.
Bill looked slightly uneasy, but he still ventured into the room. “Soup and sandwiches for four, ready in about ten minutes. Do you feel up to leaving your bed, or do you want us to bring it in here?”
“We… we-hah-hahYishhh! Sniff! We cad eat out id the livig roob.” Charlie startled Neville slightly with the stuffiness of his voice. It was a little deeper than usual as well.
“Are you sure?” Bill asked. “Only you look so warm and cozy.”
Charlie sniffled and shook his head. “We'll joid you out there id about ted bidutes.”
Bill nodded and ducked out. His cheeks flushed, Neville turned his face into Charlie's side. “Oi, that was embarrassing, wasn't it?”
Charlie shook his head again. “Actually, that was quite woderful.”