Title: Right As Rain
Pairing: Charlie Weasley/Parvati Patil, background Charlie/Unidentified Lady Friend, Parvati/Anthony Goldstein
Rating: PG-15 (for sexual situations).
Word Count: 1400
Summary: It's not permanent. It's never been.
Author's Notes: The title is a line from the Adele song of the same name. Prompts are from a generator, and written for the Number Game Ficathon on rarepair_shorts.
He comes in near the end of her set: slinking through the crowd, settling at the bar as she rounds out the last note of her song. She smiles at the applause, squinting against the lights as she tries to make out his face in the dark; he looks familiar, but is too covered in shadow for Parvati to be entirely sure.
She climbs down from the stage while the boys pack up their instruments and patrons make a space for her at the bar. She asks for a drink and the one man she wants to crowd around her won't; he stays in his dark corner, a glass at his wrist, the hint of a smile turning up the corner of his mouth.
When he finally approaches, long after her admirers have faded into the background of the evening, she almost laughs. Charlie Weasley is exactly the same as she remembers from their brief encounter at Ron and Hermione's wedding: flirtatious, charming, dangerous. It's a winning combination.
"Last time I saw you, you had hair down to here." Charlie sets his hand at the small of her back, leaning in. "You've changed."
She laughs, darkly. "More than you know."
She sings most nights, but her day job is incredibly, inexcusably boring; temp work in the Ministry isn't something to brag about, not while she spends her days performing the mind-numbingly dull tasks of filing and sorting and answering the Floo.
"You should quit," Charlie tells her as they leave her office. He's in town for a conference in Wales and sought her out, promising her a "worthwhile afternoon" if she skived off work and accompanied him to his hotel. "If you're unhappy, you should quit."
Parvati presses the button for the elevator. "It's good money, though, and way more consistent than anything else I'm doing. I've got friends here, too, and Anthony –"
"Goldstein. He's my friend," she says, "He's good to me," and Charlie's eyes get dark. He isn't a jealous man, but it's obvious in the straightening of his posture that he doesn't like it; her having friends like that when he's not around. Charlie possessively sets his arm around her waist and tells her, "I'm good to you."
"This is different. He knows me."
"I know you."
She pats his cheek affectionately. "But only on the surface, love."
The doors open, and they step inside.
The grass outside the pen is dried and brown. Charlie leads her by the hand toward the gate and Parvati's palms are sweating inside her fireproof gloves.
"Scared?" he teases, and Parvati shakes her head.
"Never. I laugh in the face of danger."
"Well that's good, 'cause we're about to walk right into it."
It's a bright spring morning and he's dragged her along for the afternoon, intent on showing her "undecided arse" what it takes to be a real wrangler. He's been coming back to the Isles more and more in the past year, after the smuggling trade took a turn for the worse and more baby Greens are out on the black market. Charlie pushes her toward the nest they've been keeping the rescued dragons in an effort to socialize them, and the biggest of the four inside it raises her head as they approach.
Charlie rubs her scaly neck and carefully, Parvati strokes the curved ridges on her back. She's about the size of a cat, less than a month old. The dragon grumbles in a friendly way, and when she sneezes, twin balls of flame burst from her nostrils.
Charlie smiles fondly. "Isn't she a sweetheart?"
He used to date her sister. This is what she thinks of when Anthony invites her out to dinner on her birthday, ostensibly to celebrate and catch up on all the office gossip, but she knows they'll both wind up getting a little tipsy and talk about Padma.
"It's kind of weird, Vati," Charlie tells her. He's put out she accepted, she can tell by his tone. "You're not your sister. You're not a replacement."
"And who said that's what's happening? It's dinner on my birthday. I don't see you Flooing out here to sweep me off my feet."
He frowns. "You know I would if I could."
"Charlie," she starts, and finds herself unable to finish. He's such an ass, sometimes.
"Look, all I'm saying is be careful. You don't know –"
"And neither do you."
The room is quiet. He mumbles an apology and she knows they've reached an impasse; whatever they're doing has been fun up until this point, and if she's being honest with herself, she doesn't want things to take the serious turn they're heading for. Parvati goes out with Anthony and has a lovely time. Neither she or Charlie ever brings it up again.
It's been five years and she still has nightmares about it. All she sees when she closes her eyes some nights are her family: her father, her mother, Padma with a book, a broomstick, bent over her cauldron in their parent's kitchen. Her family laid out on the table in the quiet aftermath, her family in ashes, pouring into the river.
She Floos Charlie one night when she wakes up screaming, shaking so badly she can barely drag herself out of bed and crawl across the floor to the fireplace. It takes him twenty minutes to answer, and when he finally does she can hear footsteps behind him, the low voice of a strange woman. Charlie turns slightly, tilting his head halfway out of the hearth grate so he can mumble something in Bulgarian.
"Vati, look, now's not a good time –" he starts, and she pulls her head back.
She won't apologize for calling Anthony next, not when Charlie has whomever-she-is lingering in the background of his room in Romania. She won't let herself feel guilty. When her doorbell rings ten minutes later, all she feels is relief when she finds Anthony (and only Anthony) waiting behind the door.
The D.A. girls are all out for Lavender's hen night, taking over the Leaky Cauldron and taking terrible advantage of their friendship with the landlady. Parvati laughs as Hannah pours them all another round of shots – Vipertooth Vodka, only the best – and Lavender leans hard into her side, sighing as she says, "Dean was cute – that Beaubatons boy, too. You always got the cute ones."
Parvati pats her arm. "You got Seamus in the end, though."
"But back then all I got was Ron…um, no offense, Hermione."
Hermione takes a long sip of her wine. "None taken."
"I lucked out, but you – you always get the handsome ones. Like Charlie." Lavender scratches at the dragon on the bottle's label with her thumbnail, a wicked gleam in her eyes that unfortunately isn't lessened by the high patches of color in her cheeks, nor the girlish giggle that escapes her lips as she asks, "How's he…you know…in bed?"
Parvati smiles coyly, playing with her straw. "Fucks like a champion," she says, and the table erupts in laughter, laughing harder once Ginny balls up a wet napkin and throws it at Parvati with uncanny accuracy.
"Can we please stop talking about my brother?"
"Anthony asked me to marry him."
Charlie deftly unhooks the clasp of her bra and she rests her forehead against his shoulder, breathing in. "And?"
"I said 'yes.'"
Charlie quiets for a moment, eyes dark with concentration, and Parvati expects him to say the words she's been dreading: that he wants her, he needs her, that she should break off whatever she's been carrying on with Anthony and run off into the sunset with him. Whatever they've had going on between them isn't permanent, it's never been; she doesn't want him to start pretending now.
He kisses a slow line down her chest, over the smooth plane of her stomach, and hooks his thumbs under the elastic of her panties. He rolls them slowly off her hips and gives her a wicked smile as he settles between her legs, tells her, "Good bloke, that one. Might make Minister one day."
Charlie rubs his thumb affectionately over her hipbone and Parvati lets out a breath she didn't even know she was holding.
"Good-looking kids, too," he adds with a wink, and then she almost has to laugh; they both know there are better things he could be doing with his mouth.