That was the last thing he remembered before the world went black.
Fire and heat like he had never known. Well, that wasn't the truth. The fire he had known many times before. Countless times.
The first experience had been on his third day when he had been overly cocky about his "skills" as a future famous dragonologist. Despite the fact that, as an apprentice, his only job was shoveling dragon shit, he had decided to abandon his loyal bucket and shovel to sneak a peek at the latest rescue. It was inside a small cage that had been transfigured to look like a cave in order to help make the beast feel more at home.
It was small. Small for a dragon. A baby, likely less than two years old compared to the size of the others on the reserve. Scarlet scales adorned its body with a helmet of golden spikes encircling its snub-snouted face. It had been injured in a fight with a wild Longhorn and the reserve was called in to rescue the hurt beast when it had stumbled into the Muggle countryside and scared the living daylights out of some now freshly Obliviated farmers.
Most people would think he was stupid for even thinking about looking at the dragon. Most would have seen the glint in its yellow eyes and known that approaching was positively foolish on an epic level. Most would have looked at the claws and seen danger instead of intrigue; they would have seen the shiny scales and felt the warning, the caution, instead of a pull. Most would have felt the fire, burning there in the back of its throat, and gone running instead of moving closer.
Most people weren't Charlie Weasley.
His fingers barely touched the red scales when the dragon turned on him, but one touch had been enough. If he hadn't been hooked before on the adrenaline, the danger, the rush, he was most certainly addicted to it now. Life on the edge of the world was glorious, living amongst beasts and men, who were often times more dragon themselves than wizards. He felt powerful when his fingers touched those scales.
The pain, however, was enough to have him pissing himself, which he was teased about mercilessly for days.
"Who goes up and just touches a Chinese Fireball?" another tamer had said, laughing, as he helped pull Charlie out of the pen before the young man ended up fully roasted and eaten alive.
"Is that what it was?" Charlie had asked, hissing through the pain. "Proper name, that."
They had all laughed, and even Charlie, still wincing, chuckled.
When the bandages came off of his freshly scarred arm, he had chosen to keep the scar. "Leave it! It's my badge of honour! Proof I touched fire," he had told the onsite mediwitch.
She had rolled her eyes and mumbled, "Just like the rest of those idiots," and put her bottles of Burn Salve and Dittany away.
The men he worked with shook his hand and patted him on the back. "One of us now," they had said. "Touched the fire and lived to tell the tale."
Dragon fire .
He had felt it many times over the years.
Years he spent cleaning shit, fixing security wards, and roping pigs and sheep to feed the large beasts. Years building scar tissue upon muscle upon scar tissue upon bone. Bones were often broken, skin burnt and clawed, and there were plenty of nights when Charlie would hit his head after blacking out during a post-capture celebration of firewhisky and ale. He wore his scars and wounds with the same amount of pride as he wore his tattoos.
Years locked away with only the scaled beasts and his comrades to keep him company—and the occasional bar matron who had a thing for gingers—were broken up by the sporadic trip home to Ottery St. Catchpole, where he was lectured by his mother in a stern and disappointed voice about his tattoos in the same breath that she used to cry over any new scars she'd notice. Charlie would argue that he was perfectly fine, and it was just another part of the job until she'd start sobbing over her "poor baby boy." To appease her falling tears, he would let her cut his hair which she deemed "inappropriately long."
"Do you want to look like a girl?" she would ask him.
"No," he'd say, leaving the silent, I'd like girls to have something to grip onto though , in the air.
Family visits were spent relaxing by the pond, catching up with his siblings and whatever friends they brought home from Hogwarts. His parents had always made room at the table for the likes of Lee Jordan, Penelope Clearwater, and even his own best mate from school, Tonks. But it was no secret that the Weasleys doted upon Harry Potter and Hermione Granger. Even Charlie had taken a liking to Ron's little friends.
When things got bad, when the war started up, Charlie was the first of the Weasley boys to volunteer for the Order. "I'll recruit in Romania. I can search Death Eater hideouts there. I know they exist." Despite his mother's protesting, Dumbledore had agreed, and for the better part of three years, Charlie did what he could to help his family, his friends, and his world.
Hexes from Death Eaters were nothing compared to the claws of a Common Welsh Green.
When things seemed to settle, but the air still felt tense toward the beginning of May in 1998, Charlie wasn't surprised at all when the silvery wisp in the shape of a weasel appeared in the middle of camp. "Hogwarts. It's time," his father's voice had spoken through the Patronus.
"Give them hell," one of his fellows said, clapping him on the shoulder as he made his way to the International Apparition Point.
"Kill those bastards for the rest of us!" another yelled.
Charlie grinned. "I'll rain down dragon fire on as many Death Eaters that look my way," he announced to the cheers all around him. The men, his friends, who would remain behind to watch their clan of dragons, protect the reserve, and a few who were already out on missions ousting Death Eater supporters from the nearby villages.
War was brutal.
The aftermath was worse.
They'd won, but they'd lost.
It had taken years to work through the grief of losing a brother—of losing friends. He stayed as long as he could with his family. Fixing tea for his mother when his father looked ready to break. Prying the bottle of firewhisky out of George's hand when he looked eager to drown himself in it.
He would shove Bill out the door and tell him, "Go home to Fleur."
While Bill presumably buried his grief—and hopefully his cock—in his pretty wife, Percy buried himself in his work to try and distract himself from his guilt. Ron, thankfully, had his friends to help him through the tough times.
Ginny, on the other hand, had the thick skin of a Peruvian Vipertooth as she took the mantle of Weasley matriarch in the place of their mourning mother, taking charge when needed. Charlie couldn't help but grin with pride at his baby sister as she bossed about the whole houseful of wizards. He hoped Harry Potter liked playing with fire.
Years passed, and they learned to live with the grief, though the scars of war remained with them forever. Charlie bore them with pride the same way as he wore the marks that countless dragons left behind on his flesh.
He returned home, once again, for Ginny and Harry's wedding and watched with relief as his parents smiled, as George laughed, as Bill bounced his five-year-old daughter on his knee. He watched Percy embrace Ron in a hug to congratulate him on his own engagement to some young Beauxbatons girl he had met on tour with the Cannons, whose fascination with Quidditch and Keepers earned her a diamond ring in return. Charlie was happy for his family and felt peace for the first time in years.
Peace never did sit well with him.
He longed for the adrenaline—for the fire.
Charlie’s eyes locked on her from across the room. She was still so small, but mighty in the way that she stood, head held high as though she were daring anyone to cross her. She had likely been asked by multiple old biddies why it wasn't her wearing Ron's ring, why it wasn't her marrying the famous Harry Potter, and "Goodness gracious, child, when are you going to settle down and start having some babies?" He laughed as he tried to picture the grimace with which she would likely answer the question with.
Scarlet silk covered her body and there was a golden pin holding back the honey-brown curls from her face. Ever the mighty Gryffindor , he thought with a grin as he stared at her, watching her watch everyone else with mild curiosity. He noticed the scar on her arm was displayed—or rather left uncovered. An old war wound that never properly healed.
He knew she bravely carried it like he wore his own battle scars. He knew that the sight of it scared the living daylights out of some people. He knew that she didn't care.
"Fuck them," he figured she would say if questioned about the feelings of old conservatives that didn't understand why she wouldn't want to hide the supposed shame of a word carved into her by a psychotic bitch. The scar was proof. Proof that a Muggle-born rose above the rest of them and fought when she of all people should have run. Proof that she had survived when their enemies had fallen. "Fuck them," he figured she would say—if Hermione Granger was the type of girl who even said things like "fuck."
He really hoped she did.
Most men would call him stupid for even thinking about staring at Hermione Granger the way he was—with a hunger he had not felt in quite some time.
Most men would have seen the glint in her whisky-coloured eyes and known that flirting with her was positively foolish. She was known to hex blokes in the street for looking at her the wrong way.
Most men would have looked at the tight grip she had on her flute of champagne and seen danger, a warning that she was easily riled up. Instead, he saw small fingers with a good grip and he was very glad that he had avoided his mother's plea to get a haircut before the wedding.
Most men would have seen the scarlet silk dress as something soft that she wore because, perhaps, she too was secretly soft inside. They would think that she was dressing up to bring herself comfort, for what, no one knew. He saw it as a beacon. A challenge. A red cape to entice and provoke the bull.
Most men would have felt the fire, burning there behind her eyes, and backed away by the intimidation.
Most men weren't Charlie Weasley.
He loved the fire. Wanted the fire. Wanted her fire.
His fingers barely brushed against the scarlet silk of her dress, lingering on her waist, when she turned to face him. One touch had been enough. If he hadn't before been hooked on the craving, the hunger, the blood pumping through his veins at the way her eyes sparkled in the light, he was most certainly addicted to it now. Life on the edge of the world, living amongst beasts and men who were often times more dragon themselves than wizards, had taught him that some fire needed to be touched, stoked, instead of extinguished.
He felt powerful when his fingers touched her fire.
"So hot," he mumbled against the sweat-slick skin of her breasts as she straddled his lap behind the orchards of the Burrow. If they focused hard enough, they could still hear the music coming from the marquee where the rest of their family and friends were dancing the night away, clueless that Charlie and Hermione had sneaked off, crashing into one another under a canopy of trees that barely let through the shimmer of the stars overhead.
Hermione hissed and moaned when she sank down on his rigid length, digging her nails into his shoulders as he stretched and filled her. Charlie growled in response, bucking his hips until he was fully inside of her, and then bit the side of her neck and watched with joy as she tensed around him.
The silk of the dress was ice compared to the heat of her skin, and seeing it pooled up around her hips as she rode him with abandon made him grin. There had been no knickers. "They leave lines," she had said when he had chuckled questioningly as his finger dove beneath the red silk only to be met with unshielded heat.
She felt like dragon fire. The taste of her was burned in his subconsciousness forever.
He loved a good burn.
She never broke her rhythm even when he could feel her getting close. He, however, stoked the flames by planting his feet against the cold floor of the grass beneath them, thrusting frantically as she moaned, "Harder," followed with a breathy, "Charlie . . . fuck me harder," that had his mind reeling.
He granted her wish and pistoned at a fierce pace, grunting and panting like a beast, slowing only to lick a single drop of sweat that had fallen from her neck and hung at the rosy tip of a bared breast. He groaned, and the salty proof of their shared heat and the noise mixed with his actions had her careening into oblivion, dragging him with her. The fingers of one small hand dug through his hair, gripping tight and pulling hard just the way he liked it, as her other hand pressed against his chest—her nails finding purchase as they gripped his skin, drawing blood.
He roared, and she cried as they came together, and the world went black in the smoke of their climax.
It was minutes later when they had regained their breath that she noticed the blood on his chest. "Did I do that?" she whispered, looking only slightly guilty.
Charlie grinned. "Don't worry about it," he said and kissed her lips. "Just another scar to add to the mix. I'll wear it like a badge of honour."
She smirked at him.
"Proof I touched fire."