There was someone in his bed. A big someone judging by the pressing weight of their body against his own, the person's leg was thrown over Harry's leg, pinning him to the mattress.
Merlin. Harry closed his eyes and tried to remember the night before. Ginny's wedding. Unless he was missing a day or two then he'd definitely been at the Burrow last night. The wedding celebration that had gone into the wee hours of the morning. And there had been trays of Elfean schnapps being passed around. Which Harry had partook in. A lot. Salazar.
Harry risked opening his eyes to get a look at the leg. Male. Attractive smattering of dark hair. Toe nails in need of a bit of a trim and nice musculature but most importantly: not freckled. It wasn't a leg he recognized, Harry thought with relief. Better some random bloke's leg than Charlie's. He'd been down that gnome-hole once too many times in the past seven years.
The leg disappeared. Harry froze not knowing what to do. He could try apparating without his wand but that wasn't likely to work.
"You awake?" The man behind him spoke. The voice sounded vaguely familiar. Low and rumbly in that early morning way that Harry found such a turn on. And he stretched and Harry felt the faint press of morning wood against his arse before the mattress shifted and the man pulled away. What were they doing in bed together? Harry gave a tentative clench of his arse. No twinges of pain. Not that necessarily meant anything.
Whose bed? Harry wondered belatedly, but didn't want to open his eyes again to find out.
"Playing possum?" That voice again. Harry couldn't place it. "It's already half-past nine and if I'm not mistaken, you've a brunch to get to."
"Uhm." Harry blanched. The bloody Weasley brunch.
"And as long as you are trying to put things together. Don't panic but I think we might have accidentally gotten married sometime about two this morning."
"WHAT?" Harry sat up in bed, turning to see Cedric Diggory. He was laughing up at Harry, his dark curly hair against a white linen pillowcase on a bed Harry didn't recognize. Cedric stretched, his fit Quidditch toned body was naked to where it disappeared beneath the duvet.
"Ced-" Harry stopped and blinked. Cedric Diggory. He'd been dancing with Cedric to avoid talking to Charlie. And Elfean schnapps. More Dancing. And more schnapps. And more Cedric. And then a bit snogging in the garden under the fairy lights.
"Ah. You do remember."
"I remember a bit." Harry admitted cautiously. He'd always had a bit of thing for Cedric. How could he not? The Hufflepuff was as fit as any and had always looked out for Harry at Hogwarts.
Cedric held up his left hand. There was twist of grass wrapped around his ring finger. "Remember this then?"
Harry looked at his own. There was a matching bit of grass wound around his own finger. "What happened," he asked faintly, afraid of what the answer would be.
"It was all a bit of fun. We were dancing. You seemed a bit worked up about avoiding Charlie Weasley, though. Quite insistent."
"Yes. Well…I don't always make good decision when Charlie's around."
"Exactly what you said last night." Cedric turned his left hand, twisting it to see the grass band. "There were clover and daisy flower crowns you made, too, by the way. Not sure where those got to."
"Mind skipping to the getting married part?"
"Oh, right. Some time about two I was suggested you turn-in but you insisted you couldn't go to the sleep in your room at the Burrow unless you had something to protect you against Charlie."
"No, no, no." Harry flung himself to the mattress and covered his face with a pillow.
"Yup." Cedric tugged away the pillow. "So I said, just a joke mind, that we should get married and you sort of ran with it. Pulled Luna off the dance floor and…well I'll admit that I was not this side of sober myself and forgot that she was an-"
"Ordained minister." Harry said. "Why would she…"
"Don't really know but she said something about being double Leo and waning moons and...I think something about flibberpups? Anyway." Cedric held up his hand, showing the grass ring.
"Right." Harry looked around the room. There was a ceiling fan lazily turning, gauzy white curtains, a dresser and mirror and a suitcase propped open on a chair. He didn't recognize it. "And now we where are we exactly?"
"My folks, they live right over the hill from the Weasleys. I'm staying the weekend with them. You were quite insistent that you didn't want to stay at the Burrow."
"Right." Harry muttered. So he was married and living with the in-laws. This was getting better and better. "Uhm, so did we…"
Cedric smiled, revealing his double-dimples that Harry had completely forgotten about, He turned on his side facing Harry, propping his head up on his hand. "You really don't remember any of this, do you?"
"Vaguely, very vaguely." All he could remember is last night's burning need to not succumb to Charlie's charms again. And a bit of how nice it was to snog Cedric. But maybe that was his old Hogwarts fantasy come back to roost? Harry rubbed a hand over his face. "Just tell me, please."
"Interesting." Cedric smiled but shook his head. "As much as I regret the missed opportunity you were too clearly gone to do anything more with than give you a hangover potion and tuck into bed."
"Well, yes. Only two bedrooms here and didn't really think that you'd want to sleep in their lounge. Mum's an early riser."
"But we didn't…"
Cedric grinned at him. "I really should leave you hanging about that to teach you a lesson. But no, we didn't, I don't mess around with someone else's bloke."
"I'm not anyone's bloke." Harry protested.
"Oh really?" Cedric raised an eyebrow. "So the death glare that I got from Charlie as we were leaving was all for show?"
"Charlie's a tease. He's always has been." Harry muttered. He looked at the bit of grass on his finger. After fifteen years in the magical world he knew better than to just rip it off. "So how do we undo this?"
"Talk to Luna, I imagine." Cedric stretched and the duvet slipped. Harry averted his eyes.
"Merlin. Okay, we'll go see her-" Harry stopped at the sound of a thunderous pounding on a door.
"Ah, bit later I expected but-" the door to the bedroom flung open and Charlie stalked in. He stopped just short of the bed. Harry pulled the duvet up higher as if Charlie wouldn't be able to tell he was naked under it.
"Cedric." Charlie gave a pointed nod of his head towards the door. "I'd like to have a word with Harry, if you don't mind."
"Charlie, good to see you." Cedric said from his side of the bed. "I'll just go off and have my shower." Harry groaned and Charlie growled. "I'm sure you have lots to talk about, I'll just be off."
As he stood up, Harry gave a sigh of relief, he was wearing boxers. Charlie didn't look any happier, however, as he glared at Cedric who took his time pulling clothes out of his suitcase and a robe from the back of the door, They both waited as Cedric disappeared through the door, pulling it closed behind him.
"Charlie. Not now. Please." Harry held up his hand. Unfortunately it was his left hand and Charlie snarled. In three steps he was at the bed, he took Harry's hand and plucked the bit of grass away.
"Hang on, what if-"
"Luna was just messing with you. Do you really think she'd marry you when you were three sheets to the wind?"
"Do you think Cedric, the ultimate Hufflepuff would even think it?" Charlie growled. "Not that I'm not furious with him. If it was anyone else…"
"If it was anyone else, what?" Harry went straight from shock to fury. "What do you care? Charlie, we've been bloody well through this before. You don't want to settle down. You don't-"
"Don't tell me what I do or do not want." Charlie's eyes flicked down Harry's body. "Especially when you are naked in someone else's bed."
Harry shook his head. "No. You don't have the right to be jealous. When you left the first time you told me that you-"
"I told you that I wanted you to be sure. That I wanted you to take time to make sure that I was who you wanted. When we got together at Shell Cottage it was right after everything had happened. You were just seventeen. And you'd been through hell-"
"I told you that I knew you were the one."
"Right, but you were a mess, Harry. You hadn't slept in days. Do you even remember anything that happened those weeks after Voldemort died?"
"I remember you." And Harry did. The only bright light during that horrible time was Charlie. Through the grief of losing so many, through the pain, he remembered Charlie's arms around him, telling it would all be alright. Then he'd gone back to Romania, leaving Harry behind.
"RIght. And I remember how malnourished you were, the burns all over your body, the nightmares. You needed time, Harry. Especially since you were just figuring out what team you were flying for, and don't tell me you weren't still thrown by that. You needed time to sort yourself out, and I knew I'd grabbed for the snitch too soon. You needed time. You'd been thrown into the middle of a war that you didn't know existed when you were eleven and found yourself crowned the Saviour. No kid should have that happen to them. So I wanted you to figure out who you were, what you really wanted."
"So you went back to Romania and left me alone…"
"Not for long. You waited what? Two weeks and you hooked up with-" Charlie crossed his arms.
"Malfoy." Harry twisted his lips. "Really. Thanks for that."
"I didn't-trust me I was no more pleased than anyone else was. Less so, since I pretty much opened the door for him. Ron came to Romania just to curse me out, I'll tell you that but what could I do? You'd made your choice."
"And so did you when I was through with him. At Ron and Hermione's wedding you told me you just wanted to be friends." Harry didn't bother to keep the resentment out of his voice, he'd been so sure that Charlie would want more and he'd brushed Harry off.
"You'd stopped seeing Malfoy four days before! I wasn't about to be your rebound relationship. Those never last."
"Malfoy was the rebound relationship from you! Not the other way around. Bloody hell. Then what happened at your mum's birthday party?"
Charlie snorted. "You were into your cups and I loved the feel of you against me, that's what happened. I'm no Cedric Diggory. Only in the morning did I realize that I'd done exactly what I told myself I shouldn't do."
"And New Year's?" Harry said. He could list off the four times they'd been together on his hand.
Charlie shook his head "No. that wasn't me. That one's on you. Bill had taken me aside and told me that you were doing really well and I thought maybe it was time that I did something about it and we had a fantastic night and the next day you went to America without even telling me good-bye."
"Right." Harry had taken the two year assignment in America to have an excuse not to see Charlie anymore.
"Can we just go and talk?" Charlie ran his hand through his hair. "I don't care if you did anything with Cedric but-"
"You don't care?" Harry felt his resentment at Charlie surge. "I care when you go off with your flavour of the week-"
"I don't mean I don't care. I…" Charlie growled. "But it isn't like I have any rights to have a say in the matter, besides I know Cedric and he told me he was taking you home to sleep it off. Not that I liked seeing you two cozied up. I trust him."
"More than you trust me?" Harry folded his arms and wished he could look a little more intimidating but it was hard to seeing as how he was naked in someone else's bed.
"I trust you. Just not when you're mad at me. You tend to run off-"
"I do not!"
"That was seven years ago!"
"Fine. Could you get dressed please?" Charlie waved his hands at Harry.
"Get out and I will."
"Really? It isn't like I haven't seen it all before."
"Charlie." Harry pointed at the door.
Charlie disappeared through the doorway and Harry flung back the covers with relief. It was only as he was searching the floor for his clothes and heard the rumble of voices in the hallway that he realized he'd committed a tactical error. Charlie and Cedric were talking to each other about Merlin knows what.
"Bugger," Harry muttered as he got on his knees to under the bed. Where the hell were his clothes? He sat back on his heels and looked around the room, groaning as he spotted the small pile of clothing on a chair near the wardrobe. Of course, Cedric would've folded the clothes of a drunken wizard he brought home.
Harry got dressed quickly. At least the black dress pants and button down shirt wouldn't look that bad on a Sunday morning, not like he'd have to walk in the Burrow wearing leather pants and a mesh t-shirt with everyone sitting around the breakfast table.
He opened the bedroom door tentatively, there was no sign of anyone. Spotting the loo across the hallway he dashed across and relieved his aching bladder. There was a tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush on vanity. Harry squeezed toothpaste on his finger and did the best he could to wash away the cotton mouth feeling of a nice of over-indulging. His reflection in the mirror would not win him any beauty contests he thought, grimacing. How did he always get himself in these kind of messes?
"Right. Time to face the hippogriff." It was more than a little tempting to just disapparate straight back to London. Ten paces down the hall he wished he had as he walked into the kitchen and Mr. and Mrs. Diggory, Cedric, and Charlie were all seated around the yellow-cloth covered table that was spread with bacon, toast, and egg casserole. There was an empty chair between Charlie and Cedric.
"There he is! Good morning, Harry. Would you like coffee or tea with your breakfast?" Mrs Diggory asked brightly.
"Erm…" Harry's stomach did a flip. "I don't think…"
"Don't think he's much up for eating, Mum." Cedric said just as Charlie stood up.
"I think we'd best get back to the Burrow," Charlie said.
"Of course. Such a lovely wedding last night. I'm so glad you and Cedric had a chance to catch up. Let me just put together a little something for you." Mrs Diggory stood up, whisking the platter of bacon and toast over to the counter. Chattering about the wedding she made up four bacon sandwiches and a thermos of coffee. "There you go, that should tide you over until Molly has brunch on," she said as she handed Charlie the packet of sandwiches.
"Thanks, ma'am." Harry said. "Uhm. I appreciate-"
"Think nothing of it. Good for you boys to have a nice visit," Mrs. Diggory beamed at them. Charlie saved Harry from choking from the held back laugh by giving her a hug.
"Nice to see you again, Mrs. D. And you, sir." Charlie nodded at Mr. Diggory.
"I'll see you out," Cedric said as he stood up from the table, wiping his mouth with a cloth napkin. Harry couldn't help but notice that he'd taken off his the blade of grass around his finger. Cedric saw where Harry was looking and had the decency to blush. "Sorry," he mouthed.
At last they were outside. Harry didn't know what to say as Cedric pulled the front door firmly shut. "Erm..thanks, I guess?" The word seemed inadequate as he extended his hand. Cedric took Harry's hand and pulled him into a hug.
"Not a problem. We Tri-wizard victors have to watch out for each other, right?"
"Thank you." Harry said, his face pressed up against Cedric's shoulder. "I mean it."
"Any time. Even if you just need someone to talk to," Cedric said, pulling away. "With less schnapps."
"No more schnapps for me, ever." Harry said firmly. "Luna might marry us for real next time."
"You won't see me arguing." Cedric smiled down at him and Harry was saved from responding by Charlie shaking Cedric's hand.
"Thanks, Ced. I owe you."
"Well, you never told your mum that I was the one who broke her front window, so I guess we're even now."
"And then some." Charlie nodded.
They set off down the path up the hill, Harry glanced over at Charlie. His set grim face was far different than the smiling one who'd stunned him when he'd tumbled out of the floo into the Burrow for the first time the day before they'd gone to the World Cup. Even at fourteen, and not understanding why he was so attracted to him, Charlie had taken Harry's breath away.
When Charlie turned off the main path, Harry followed. Charlie still hadn't said anything, but then Harry hadn't either. How much was left to be said? He was tired of the panic he felt every time he knew he'd be seeing Charlie. The wanting and not having. They'd tried to be just friends but it had never worked out that way. Harry was really afraid that some holiday Charlie would bring home someone new and be in love with them and he'd be lost forever.
Ten minutes later they were standing on the crest of the hill. Harry could see down to the village of Ottery St. Catchpole.
"Sit with me?" Charlie motioned towards the giant chestnut tree, whose trunk must've been four feet across, its limbs stretching out across the sky, Harry nodded and leaned against the tree, Charlie sat next to him, close enough that their shoulders brushed together. Charlie unwrapped the sandwiches.
"Egg or no egg?"
"Uhm, no egg." Harry said. Despite the turmoil in his heart and stomach he was starving. Harry took a bite. Brown sauce instead of butter. Not bad he thought as he chewed. Charlie opened the thermos and poured coffee into the lid.
"We'll have to share." Charlie said offering it to Harry. "And no milk, sorry." Of course, Charlie remembered how he took his coffee, Harry thought with a sigh.
"S'alright." Harry mumbled through a mouthful of toast and bacon. Charlie leaned back against the tree trunk, not making a move for sandwich or coffee. Harry washed down the sandwich with a swallow of coffee,
"Do you think…if we'd met for the first time now, we'd be able to make a go of it?" Charlie asked. Harry turned towards him but Charlie was looking down at the river valley down below.
"If you and I had met last night for the first time, do you think we'd hit it off? I mean if we didn't have Shell Cottage and all the rest if I'd chatted you up at a wedding or a pub. Would it make the difference?"
Harry tossed aside the sandwich, suddenly not hungry. Shell Cottage. The night there that had changed everything when Harry had woken screaming from a nightmare and Charlie had come into his room. He'd wrapped his arms around Harry and held him and somehow they'd come together. It had been the first time. They'd ended up together for a month, until Charlie told him that he was leaving.
"I don't know." Harry answered truthfully. "I don't know if it would've."
"It always seemed to be off-timing." Charlie gave a shake of his head. "Mine or yours."
"I've taken a job in Wales."
"The Welsh dragon reserve. Not as big as an operation as the Romanian reserve but their head wrangler is retiring. I got the job."
"You're going to be moving back?" Harry swallowed hard. It was hard enough not thinking about Charlie when he was in Romania. Knowing he'd be so close and likely seeing him a lot more often was going to be even worse.
Charlie nodded. "I was going to tell you last night but you spent the whole of the night avoiding me. And then you were too busy snogging with Cedric."
"About that...I don't know what I was thinking. Guess I thought I could use him...I was being stupid-"
"We both have taken our turns at stupid."
"Yeah, well, it wasn't a very nice thing to do to Cedric."
"Eh, he got his revenge with the whole got married thing, didn't he?"
Harry laughed. "Yeah, I suppose he did but…" he stopped talking as Charlie stood up and held his hand out to Harry. "What?" He asked as Charlie took his hand and pulled Harry to standing but didn't let go his hand.
"Pleased to meet you, I'm Charlie Weasley and you are?" Charlie asked, his hand warm in Harry's.
"Harry Potter, erm...pleased to meet you, too?" Harry hesitated. "What exactly are we doing?"
"Starting over." Charlie grinned at him. "Would you like to go out for lunch, Harry Potter?"
"Isn't your mother expecting us?"
"Little early to meet the folks don't you think? Maybe we should just take this slowly."
Harry looked down at their clasped hands and looked up into Charlie's bright blue eyes. "Yeah, maybe we should."