“Hallo, ladies,” I announce while walking over to the table and giving Aveline a quick kiss.
“Charlie, it iz good to zee you,” Fleur answers and lifts her head up quickly from her parchment to smile at me before she diligently returns to her work.
“I’m happy to see you too, Charlie,” Aveline kisses me again on the cheek as I stare curiously at the odd writing on the book and pieces of parchment that somehow sets off an alarm in my head.
I crane my neck over Fleur’s shoulder and suddenly I recognize the writing from a project I helped Aveline with during our time at Hogwarts together. Furrowing my brow, I ask, “Why are you taking Arithmancy, Fleur?”
Fleur and Aveline begin to laugh loudly while I feel my cheeks turn a bright shade of red. Aveline takes my hand and pats it once before she answers, “It isn’t Arithmancy, Charlie. It’s Fleur’s family history and she asked me to help her copy it down. I wasn’t completely truthful with you back at Hogwarts when you helped me.”
The blush surely burns even more brightly on my cheeks at Aveline’s admission as I now remember sitting in the library for an entire night helping her pen her family history. Still, I try to recover as I put my arms around Aveline and counter, “Well, I was only interested in one thing back then and it wasn’t your family history.”
Kissing her on the cheek, I pull away as Fleur announces, “Well, for our cruelty, I ‘ave made sure Bill will be over zoon wit’ dinner. Zo you two can go play ‘ouse together while we do my Arithmancy ‘omework.”
Aveline chuckles at Fleur’s remark and I know I have somehow taken on the role of the butt of every bloody joke. Scowling, I reply, “You two witches get back to your work now. I’m just going to sit here and pout until my big brother shows up to defend me.”
My remark earns another chorus of giggles and I sit quietly as the two women return to their work. Fortunately, a minute later, there is a loud rap on the kitchen door and when I see the smiling face of my oldest brother, I gesture for him to come in.
“Hello, everyone,” Bill says jauntily before walking over and kissing Fleur resoundingly on the lips. He places the food on the counter and winks at me, “Hope the Arithmancy homework is going well, girls.”
“Let Fleur and I finish this next section and then we’ll eat.” Aveline comments after another round of guffaws at my expense. She looks over at Fleur before she continues, “It shouldn’t take more than fifteen minutes.”
“Don’t take too long, I’ve had a busy day at work and I’m starving,” Bill warns with a smile on his face as I stand up and walk to the icebox before pouring us each a glass of water.
Bill looks at me questioningly as I hand him his glass before I say matter-of-factly, “I quit drinking, so having the hard stuff around is a big no-no.”
Bill grins as he teases, “Well, how about a guest who needs a drink to unwind a bit?”
“Well, the cheap bastard should have brought his own,” I snicker while clapping him on the shoulder.
“Charlie, spank ze big, bad wolf for me. ‘e thinks ‘e can ‘ave everything now,” Fleur replies lightly and when I glance at her, I can see her smiling widely.
“I’ll take care of it,” I laugh while Bill and I make our way to the living room.
After we sit, I take a sip of water before I lean back and ask, “So how are things going, William?”
“Things are going quite well. In fact, I would say better than well,” Bill answers with a small grin. He leans forward and motions me to do the same while he whispers, “You can’t tell anyone but I asked Fleur to marry me and she accepted. I have a nice, big engagement ring in mind to give her. I’m not going to give her a cheap, little diamond chip this time around, little brother.”
“Well, why don’t you just tell everyone if you proposed?” I ask softly while shaking his hand.
“The…circumstances weren’t very romantic when she accepted my proposal before so I want to ask her correctly and then tell everyone. I’m going to give her everything she wants and more,” he replies as he picks up his glass of water.
“So you must be doing well in your job,” I say nonchalantly, remembering the Quidditch supplies and flying lessons that Paddy had mentioned Bill bought for Todd, the child from the Werewolf Village that Bill renovated nearly by himself a few months ago.
“I’m doing very well. I just can’t believe that I could be paid so much for such simple work. For once in my life, I can afford anything I want and give Fleur…whatever she desires,” he answers before taking a sip of water.
“What is it you do exactly?” I inquire, my curiosity piqued.
“I break curses on valuable imported artifacts. It’s simple work most of the time although it can get hairy,” Bill responds quietly. He rolls up his sleeve, showing me a particularly nasty cut on his arm as he continues, “But the money is worth the few items I have to open which are dangerous.”
“How much do you make?” My question becomes more pointed as I think how odd it is that Bill would be paid this well for such an easy task.
“I don’t want to tell you, Chuckie. It might make you jealous, but let’s say that Fleur is going to be quitting her little modeling job some time soon. I believe I’ll enjoy informing our idiotic twin brothers about her resigning,” Bill answers smugly.
“Does Fleur know about this yet?” Quirking my eyebrow, I lean forward again, resting my elbows on my knees.
“No, but when she sees the new house I am going to buy her, she’ll know that she can quit showing off her body to the public for money. Besides that’s not a proper job for a mum-to-be,” Bill smiles wryly.
“She’s pregnant?” Astonishment crosses my features as I throw myself against the back of the sofa.
“Not yet but bloody well soon. We do it enough so that we should have a dozen children by now,” Bill’s voice is full of frustration as he answers me. His eyes capture mine as he adds, “How the hell did you do it, Charlie? You never wanted a child in the first place.”
“I think it might have happened up against a wall. It seems we were fond of that position in the early days,” I smirk while trying to break the tension somewhat. But when I see that Bill’s expression is still serious, I continue, “I don’t know how it happened. Maybe it was because we were both full of grief and needed something good to happen. But I can tell you one thing, I’m glad it did occur and I’m sure you will be too when it happens.”
He grows silent for a moment, contemplating my words before he finally groans, “I know I will be, Charlie but I want my happiness now.”
Another pregnant pause ensues until Fleur calls out from the kitchen, “It iz dinner, you two. Zo quit telling lies and come eat.”
I begin to chuckle after I hear Fleur before I turn to Bill and comment, “Gods, how can Fleur be in this country for so long, yet her English seems to be getting worse?”
“She speaks perfectly fine, Charlie,” Bill replies indignantly. We stand and he faces me as he smiles, “In fact, I gave her some wonderful English lessons when we first got together.”
Clapping Bill on the shoulder as we make our way to the kitchen, I grin, “Well, I don’t think you concentrated very hard on teaching her proper English, big brother. You might have been a bit too distracted by all the French kissing.”