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Playing Cyrano

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Dear Hermione,

You’ve only been gone half a day but I miss you. Just a pop and I’d be there. But I have to content myself with the memory of you: you, in the twilight, you, in the dawn… you in my arms.

Yours,

R

*

Dear Ronald,

You’re addicted. It’s almost embarrassing. Lucky for you… so am I.

One week will fly by, promise.

Xx

H

*

Hermione--

Finished S&S. Wondering why Brandon didn’t bring the younger Eliza back to care for her. Don’t you think Marianne would’ve understood? Maybe loved him more for it? Please advise.

--Charlie

P.s. I stole Persuasion from Seamus. Sir Walter Elliot is a toff and I’m only on page 4.

*

Char!

Ah! I’m so delighted that you liked Sense and Sensibility (I’m assuming you did since you obviously care what happened to such a minor character as Eliza 2). To answer your question:

  1. Brandon has been a member of the landed gentry for long enough to know that a young woman who is pregnant and unattached would be under much harsher scrutiny in a manor house in the country than in the midst of a city, where she can more easily hide--or be hidden. He would not subject a girl he loved like a daughter to that sort of ridicule.
  2. I’m not sure Marianne would have understood--she’s naturally jealous and easily offended. Just because she grows to love him doesn’t mean that she would’ve taken to Eliza so readily. I think you give her credit that would be due to her more mature, more realistic sister, Elinor.

But what did you think of Lucy Steele? What I don’t understand is how she became attached to Robert, who, for me, is an UTTER toff. She certainly doesn’t SEEM like a gold digger, the way she keeps her claws dug into Edward for so long. Please advise your thoughts on the Steele’s, on the whole.

--Hermione

*

Dear Hermione,

Would they let me in to watch you present your research to the council, or do I have to wait until you write for confirmation of your brilliance? Nevermind--don’t answer that. You’re going to change the world, aren’t you? Proud of you.

X

R

*

Dearest R,

You’ll have to make do with these words, for now: I have done what I set out to do, and now I get to wait for the reward. So do you. Aren’t I a tease?

Xx

H

*

Herb--

(I wrote the ‘b’ by accident, but it’s funny, so I’m leaving it for my own benefit, la)

Watered your plant. You ought to get a cat. This place is boring.

Anyhow.

  1. Lucy Steele is annoying because she’s clueless but not as clueless as her obnoxious sister--my apologies if you like her, but GADS, I find her insufferable. But I feel like Lucy felt safe with Edward because he made a promise to keep her when she was at her most vulnerable, aka. About to leave the protection of her parents’ home, so she stuck by him until she realized that she actually needed to marry someone who could provide her with the kind of living that would allow her to remain in society. Because Edward only wants to be a vicar, right? So when his mother disowns him, he can no longer provide Lucy the life she desperately believes that she needs. The only thing I don’t get: If Mother Ferrars disowned Edward for being secretly engaged to Lucy, why would she allow Lucy to marry Robert instead?
  2. Otherwise, re: Persuasion: now I have Lady Bertram to contend with? Why is everyone in Anne’s life so bloody bossy?

Please advise.

--Charlie

*

Dear Chuck--

If I get an annoying nickname, then so do YOU.

  1. Maybe Robert put her under an Imperius? Eh? Nobody said it was a Muggles-only story.
  2. Anne Elliot is the only sane person in Persuasion.

Sorry for a short one, I’m off to an amazing seminar on celestial phonemenae--can’t wait to tell you all about it ASAP!

Xxx Herb

*

Dearest Hermione,

I ache for you. Letters aren’t enough. Please tell me you’re coming home to me soon.

R

*

Ronald,

The days will fly by and I will be home before you know it. Be patient, be constant… be ready for me.

Xxx

*

Harv--

  1. Do you mean that Jane Austen intended for Robert to be some kind of dark wizard… or he was one, and she didn’t even know it? Or was she a wizard? I mean witch!
  2. You’re the only sane person, period.
  3. Insanely happy for you. Please name the comet after me.
  4. I got you a cat. Well… I found one in the barn and the dragons were annoyed with him, so he’s taking cover in your apartment until I can figure out a more suitable home. Ginny and Ron are both allergic, so he can’t stay at ours. Don’t worry, he’s practically a human being, you’ll barely know he’s there. I got him food and everything. He has six toes. As yet nameless, but something good will come to me, I’m sure of it.

--Chaz

P.s. You can’t even spend five minutes writing your old pal a detailed dissection of your favorite novel? I knew it. I’m chopped liver.

*

Chirp--

  1. Oh--what if she WAS a witch?? Merlin’s left one, that would be incredible. I’m going to do some very illegal digging to find out while I’m here in this undisclosed location, the Ministry library. If true, this opens up a world of new interpretations of her work. Delicious!
  2. No, YOU.
  3. I’m naming it Obnoxious Sycophant. After you, obviously.
  4. You’re lucky I love cats, Weasley. Please name the cat after you.
  5. I never said it was my favorite. But Persuasion is. Be gentle with it/me.

Home tomorrow. I’ll buy you a drink?

Yours,

Harp

*

H--

I can’t breathe without you. Try as I might, I just can’t seem to do it. Save an old man from suffocation?

--R

*

My darling!

First of all, I hope London is horrid so that you come back to the lowly countryside and keep me company. But also, I hope your presentation went well because you’ve worked SO FLIPPING HARD for this, Hermione Jean Granger--so much so that my mother will be bragging about your accomplishments as if she gave birth to you herself. So. You bring blessings upon my/our family.

The farm is doing amazing--between my two egg-head brothers, this place has really turned around. Charlie and Ron lead early morning physical drills with all of us (I know--I’m in amazing shape after like six days, I don’t know what to tell you. Blessed, I guess!), and then Ron spends about an hour leading behavior conditioning with our more difficult dragons and just a few cadets at a time. We have two new babies--they’re not twins, but they are so identical that only Charlie can tell them apart, you know what a freak he is--who consistently try to bite when they’re being transported between their home pen and the grazing pasture. Ron has helped Dean and Ralston develop a fairly good rapport with the troublesome twosome. They finally managed a clean transport and return yesterday evening! Nobody was bitten and the dragons were in good spirits throughout. I thought Charlie was going to cry with pride. Ralston won’t talk about anything else. And Ralston!

Gods, Hermione. I really love her. I know that sounds cheesy. I’ve never been with anyone who makes my heart swell with pride every single day, while simultaneously driving me crazy and making me feel wanted and… Merlin, ‘Mione. She’s the One. It’s too early; we’ve only been together for a few weeks. You’re not supposed to love someone until you’ve seen them at their ugliest and lowest and watched how they handle it, but I think I will love her until I can’t remember who she is anymore--and then I’ll get to flirt with her all over again. I love Sheridan Ralston, you heard it here first.

Charlie is in a bad way. I hate to say it, but he is really hurting, and I’m not sure why. He’s present for every single drill and he feeds the animals every morning and he never shirks his duties, but he is in so much pain that he has blown through that salve that you made for him. He’s always furrowing his brow and pinching his nose. I know we didn’t really explain what happened to you in detail, but suffice to say: Charlie is most likely suffering from the combined effects of a Cruciatus and some sort of home-brew curse that affects him whenever he’s feeling intense emotions--it’s like he’s being punished for feeling. It’s probably a childish curse--a cowardly Dementor’s curse, that Half-Blood-Prince type nonsense, but that doesn’t make it better. Charlie deserves to feel things! For Merlin’s sake, he’s a passionate man! For some reason the Cruciatus has combined with this other spell in his body, so it’s like… a constant torture. He doesn’t mention it, but you know the look he gets when it’s really bad. He’s really bad, Hermione. I don’t know what to do. He’s actually going to St. Mungo’s tomorrow to see a healer because Ron and I forced him to make the appointment. I’m scared for him, but I don’t want to tell him that. And I have no idea why he’s been so upset this week, either. He hasn’t been talking to me much. I wish you were here. You seem to be able to reach him in a way that I just can’t. As for Ron? He is hopeless with Charlie. He’s never been good with words.

Ah! Sorry--I absolutely dumped my entire life on you just now. I miss you. I can’t wait for you to be here, but please take your time and revel in your successes; your triumphs will bolster all of us here, I know it.

Love you, my sweet dear friend,

Ginny

*

Charles Elizabeth Weasley--

I don’t know your middle name, but I’m furious with you, so I just picked one. Are you okay? Ginny said that you haven’t been doing well and you never let on in your letters. Please tell me that you’re okay. I’m worried. I was supposed to come home today but I know that you’re going to St. Mungo’s for an appointment today and I’d like to come to support you if you’ll let me. Please let me.

Love,

Hermione Jean Granger

*

R,

I’ve been delayed a few days, I’m so sorry. I’ll be back soon, I promise.

X Hermione

*

One week earlier…

“I’ll only be gone for a week,” she laughed as Charlie slumped down in her armchair melodramatically. “You should’ve seen Ron when I told him. Total drama queen.”

“You have one plant, Hermione,” Charlie said. “Surely you don’t need me to water it every single day.”

She closed her briefcase with a snap and tucked it under her arm. “Just one day, Wednesday, if you please,” she placed her hand on his head and patted it lightly. “But check on the place. Make sure nobody breaks in and eats all of my pumpkin pasties.”

“Unless I eat them.”

“Unless you eat them, yes.” She smiled and smoothed his hair, leaning down to his ear. “But if you eat my chocolate frogs, I will murder you.” Hermione kissed his cheek to punctuate the sentiment.

Charlie considered her as she walked towards the fireplace and took a handful of Floo powder from a jar on the mantle. She stopped abruptly and turned back to him.

“Hey, would you do me a favor?” she asked.

“Probably,” he said. “What do you need?”

“Ask Ron to write me while I’m gone? I know it’s stupid…”

“I’ll do it,” Charlie said. He smiled at her with a look of utter understanding and she sighed in relief.

“Just… tell him to knock my socks off, like the first one he ever wrote me.”

“Can I write you as well?”

“I’m counting on it,” Hermione laughed. “I’ll go crazy if you don’t. You know what a spazz I am.”

Charlie stood and smoothed his clothes. “Hermione. You’re not crazy or a spazz,” he said, leaning against the back of the chair. “You have worked very hard for this and you deserve to be there. Plain and simple.”

“So you’ll write me once an hour to remind me of that?” she asked with a glimmer in her eye.

“Of course I will.” Charlie held out his arms to her and Hermione leaned into his embrace.

“I’ll miss you,” she said, before pulling away, throwing her Floo powder into the fire, and stepping into the green flames. “Ministry of Magic!” she said.

 

Present day…

Charlie curled the quilt tightly around his shoulders and tried to block out the ambient noises from the bustling nurses and complaining patients. His bed was fairly isolated, all things considered. Still, it didn’t prevent him from writhing with every stray cry of pain from across the way. Until they could get him in a solitary room, Charlie would have to suffer the joys of a community hospital environment.

Even on a fairly heady pain potion, Charlie was in agony. He had been in such agony since Hermione left at the beginning of the week. Every day, he had gone through the motions of caring for the farm to the best of his ability, but every day, he had found himself less and less able to stay conscious. He had been in such pain that his body seemed to be trying to put him to sleep. This bloody curse, whatever it was… it was robbing him of his faculties.

Someone touched his shoulder to rouse him, but Charlie didn’t budge from the safety of his nest. Small, slim fingers curled around the top of his quilt and pulled it down just enough so he could make out her eyes. Hermione. Charlie at up abruptly in surprise and then groaned, grabbing his face. She made no more move to comfort him. Instead, she merely sat in the chair beside his bed and stared at her lap.

“Herb,” he grunted.

“Chuck,” she whispered. Hermione cleared her throat to make room for a threatening emotion. “The healer says you are to be moved into your own room,” she said.

Charlie managed a small nod.

“That’ll be good for you,” she said.

“‘M bloody broken,” Charlie mumbled, sliding down on his pillows and shading his eyes.

“You certainly kept your promise about writing to me,” she said brightly. Amusement colored her tone. “If I had known that your impatience about my return was medical, I might have been able to come sooner.”

“I was perfectly patient,” he whispered. “Read Persuasion and everything.” He dared to open one eye and look at her. She was digging through her briefcase.

“But, see, the way I remember it, in your last letter…” she flipped pages of parchment until she found her target. “Ah, here we are. ‘I can’t breathe without you. Try as I might, I just can’t seem to do it. Save an old man from suffocation?’” She read aloud the letter to him. “And then it’s signed ‘R’, in pencil. Isn’t that odd? Because you, Charlie, YOU--” she dug for a different letter and then smacked the paper when she found it. “You write almost exclusively in pencil, like a man who just doesn’t trust himself not to make a mistake. But Ron always writes me in pen.” Hermione laid both letters on Charlie’s legs and pointed. “And you are the one who begins and ends on an em-dash, while Ron usually includes a term of endearment. His letters are short while yours are pedantic.” Her voice had grown harried and gruff. Charlie winced. “But these two are in the same hand. The same person wrote these two letters, someone who has been lying to me almost since the moment that we first met… and it isn’t Ronald.”

“I wrote them both,” Charlie breathed. “I wrote them all.”

“You bastard.” She set both letters alight in a flash and Charlie convulsed in surprise. “You had me fooled. I thought you would help me connect with Ron again, but instead you… you orchestrated a great big scheme to mess with me. You got me in bed with him!”

Charlie held up his hand to quiet her and tried to sit up. “H-how--”

“Ginny’s letter tipped me off about why you hadn’t written me back… and then Ron didn’t write me back either. And then I went through both sets of letters… and it just was so obvious holding them up side-by-side. Ron confessed everything, once I confronted him,” Hermione said. “Even told me how you helped him seduce me. That was you under my window! Those were your words!”

“Yeah, what about that?” Charlie hissed. “You sure jumped into bed with him awfully quick. All it took were a few pretty words and you were hooked.”

“You took advantage of my vulnerability!”

“And you took advantage of my feelings for you,” Charlie spat, and that shut her right up. Hermione blushed and looked down at her hands, which were white-knuckling the handle of her briefcase. “Come on,” he said, wincing as a spasm ripped through his skull once again. “You had to have an inkling how I felt about you. I don’t hide my emotions very well. You knew I would never do anything to deliberately hurt you,” he said pointedly, “so you asked me to do something for you, even knowing that it would hurt me to do it. Admit that you had some idea.”

“I didn’t--”

“Yes you did,” Charlie insisted. “Hermione, I should never have helped you and Ron along, but what could I do? You asked me to talk to him. He told me he still loved you. He couldn’t even look at you without vomiting. You liked talking to me at least, even if I look a fright. Seemed obvious.”

“You could have said No to both of us,” she said.

“But I didn’t want to,” he said sadly. “It got out of hand. I got lost in the idea of making you both happy. I was wrong to do it. It hurt me to do it… was worth it to make you happy.” The pain was too much for him, then, and Charlie exclaimed. Hermione called for the healer. Several medi-witches rounded the corner and attended to the writhing Weasley.

“I’m sorry miss,” a round-faced nurse said. “You appear to have caused him some distress; you’ll have to go.”

“I’ll go,” Hermione peeped, torn between utter concern and anger at him for what he had done. She skirted around the partition which separated his bed from the one next door and her boots echoed on the stones. Hermione tried to shake off his words.

Of course she hadn’t known that he had feelings for her.

Had she?

He was merely generous with his time. Intelligent, and lovely to talk to. He laughed with her, he embraced her… oh, bollocks. Hermione pressed her temple. She was an idiot. He could not have been more obvious if he had been wearing a sign that said “I love you.” Hermione stopped abruptly.

She turned on her heel and raced back to Charlie’s cubicle. She grabbed the arm of the nearest medi-witch.

“I know what’s wrong with him,” she breathed.