Word count: 2178
Summary: Charlie is getting another tattoo—hardly a big surprise. But who else is getting one as well?
A/N: Thanks to Somigliana for the challenge to write this and for the excellent beta, as always. I tried to continue to the smut, but it will just have to wait for another time, I think. <3 Posted here for personal archiving and by special request :D
It was dim in the room, small globes of wandlight hovering in baskets placed in strategic places. The room looked dirty, as well, but the gloom hid any lurking dust bunnies and dirt monsters from immediate sight.
Charlie knew he should probably care about the state of the place more than he did right now, but that kind of caring disappeared after the first five rounds of beer. He straddled the chair, shirtless, his head tilted forward to rest on his crossed arms. He’d been planning on another tattoo, anyway. Why not here, tonight?
Eyes half lidded, he stared blearily into space as biting gnats of pain poked at his back. Shadows flickered at the edges of his vision, and Charlie turned his head. Another customer was being ushered toward the simple wooden chairs. Pale with shadows flirting with his face, darkness dangling from the hair that fell forward.
Familiarity struck with the bell toll of approaching sobriety, and Charlie squinted bloodshot eyes to see the figure clearly.
It was Draco Malfoy, bane of his youngest brother, who sat in the chair that faced his. “Weasley,” came the sneering drawl, though the voice slurred slightly with liquor, and Charlie was really just more interested in the way Malfoy’s lips shaped the word.
“Off with the shirt,” the other of the tattoo artists snapped brusquely, momentarily drawing the younger man’s attention away from Charlie. The dragon keeper thought he looked suddenly more pale and uncertain, lip disappearing behind a scrape of teeth briefly.
“Yes, off with the shirt, Malfoy,” he drawled, sounding much less drunk than the blond, if he did say so himself.
“Sod off, Weasley.” Temper and drink brought circles of pink high on Draco’s cheeks, but if the paler man wanted to keep his spot, he had to pull his shirt off over his head now. He did so with all the enthusiasm of a Flobberworm, glaring at Charlie until his line of sight was cut off.
With the pouty face out of sight momentarily, all Charlie had to look at was the smooth, surprisingly toned chest and the even more surprising smattering of scars that marred the otherwise perfect skin. He tilted his head and licked his lips, contemplating it with much more interest than Malfoy would be comfortable with if he knew of it through the struggling to get his head out of the collar of the suddenly stubbourn shirt.
“Nice scars,” he said once Draco was free again and sulkily tossing the shirt elsewhere.
The pale, pouty mouth twisted again to say something Charlie didn’t doubt would be cruel and foul. “Oh, hush. It’s not a criticism,” Charlie said with exasperation, resisting the urge to completely roll his eyes and shrug his shoulders. Given the conglomerate of hatchling-induced scars that were visible on his chest, a handful of more noticeable ones bisecting his chest on the diagonal, he wasn’t exactly in a position to criticize.
Draco blinked. “… hush? You’re seriously hushing me?” Something between dismay and indignation winged through his tone like a flock of indignant starlings.
“Oh, hush the both of you.” The clipped, accented voice of the woman tattoo artist put an abrupt end to what likely would have degenerated into a half-drunk squabbling match. “You cannot move when getting tattoo, you know.”
“Listen to Dacia, now, Draco,” Charlie drawled, his chin slowly lowering to rest once again on his crossed arms across the back of the chair. For a moment he thought that flame might puff out from between the blond’s lips like his namesake dragon. Charlie smiled disarmingly and quickly quelled possibility, like any good keeper knew to do with a temperamental dragon, with a single question. “Whatcha getting?”
Dacia grabbed a sheet of paper and flapped it in the space between their chairs, annoyance crackling the edges of the paper. Charlie reached up and stilled the movement, earning him a squawk of indignation from Gavril behind him. The woman huffed at him but let him get a clear look at the tattoo drawing, though she forced him to tilt his head at an uncomfortably owl-like angle.
“No, no,” he said, shaking his head. “It’s nice but all wrong for you.” He looked up at Dacia, and a slew of Romanian tumbled from his lips like so many hatchlings out of a crowded nest. At first she frowned, but then her face lit up, and she nodded in enthusiastic agreement and shot off toward where Charlie knew the backroom to be.
“What the fuck, Weasley? What gives you the right to tell me what tattoo is right for me and what isn’t!” Draco was up on his feet, furiously indignant, entire face flushed and eyes flashing. When Charlie rose slowly, clapping Gavril on the shoulder in apology, Draco immediately got up in his face about it.
Charlie’s jaw tightened briefly—shirtless, angry Draco certainly was managing to tickle his dragon, so to speak—but instead of giving into temper, the dragon tamer met the frosty eyes evenly, not giving an inch of personal space or feeling in the least intimidated by the taller man. He calmly stilled the gesticulating white hands with his roughened freckled ones, fingers gently brushing the inside of the pale wrists.
Draco stopped instantly, perhaps shocked that he’d been touched and gently so at that. “Just look at it,” Charlie said softly. “You can choose whatever you want. But it’s a design by Temi and Pol, and they’re the bloody best artists I’ve come across, and if you ever meet them they’ll do the extra charms themselves.”
He released one fluttering set of digits and half turned, gesturing at a particularly fine dragon that appeared to be climbing his side. It seemed almost real, the claws appearing to actually prick Charlie’s skin as it clung into place. When Charlie touched the little dragon’s head, it preened slightly, shifting on his skin. He glanced up to find Draco staring with some fascination at the petite winged creature.
The normally polite pureblood neglected to ask permission, his unfettered hand tracing the neck ridges as though he expected to feel them instead of mostly smooth skin. Charlie’s breath cartwheeled in his throat like an enthusiastic child who’s had too much sugar. Draco suddenly froze, as if just then becoming aware of how close they were and how warm Charlie’s skin was and how intense his gaze… or perhaps it was simply Charlie who was aware of those things.
Grey eyes fled the bare-but-for-tattoos chest only to get ensnared by Charlie’s deep browns, flooded with warmth and, yes, lust. Charlie couldn’t help it. Draco’s nostrils flared slightly and his lips parted, tongue nervously wetting them. Tension coiled, a snake ready to strike, but before Charlie could figure out if it was poisonous or sinuously benign, Dacia was back, barging her way between them without a thought.
Charlie’s face flushed and he ran a frustrated hand through his hair, leaving it sticking up in an almost normal dishevel. He watched Draco’s face knit into startled bemusement as Dacia started chattering at him in Romanian, forgetting herself in her excitement over one of the gypsy twins’ designs.
“She says, see the runes built in?” Charlie stepped closer, fingers tracing the runes hidden within the dragon design. “It’s made to go like this, with the head and part of the neck here…” Without thinking, Charlie touched Draco, where the dragon’s head would rest near the heart, up and over the shoulder to where the body would ride, and then the tail twining up and around the bicep. It was an undeniably clever design.
Dacia looked at him and rolled her eyes at her lapse in language, but Charlie was certain he saw amusement at the excuse to lay hands on the man he’d been prodding and eyeing since she brought him in.
Draco nodded slowly, and the decision clicked into place like a missing puzzle piece or the last word of a crossword. “This is what I want,” Draco said clearly. It lacked the fierceness of the previous choice, but the brooding, watchful quality coupled with the exquisite workmanship seemed to have made up his mind. The earlier anger seemed to fade away completely, melting like the ice that had been in his eyes into warmer, more welcoming lake water. “So, finally a Weasley with taste,” he mused with a smirk.
Charlie glared, but it was only half-hearted. To Gavril’s satisfaction, he sat down once again and Draco did the same, though the quality of tension that wound through the room was of a completely different brand than previously.
The pain was, as always for Charlie, almost unnoticeable. After helping feed voracious and savage hatchlings (and having the scars to prove it) as well as the burns he’d accrued over the years, it took a lot more to hurt him than a magical tattoo artist. Besides, with something to else to focus on, something like shirtless Draco starting to get his tattoo, something that would take several sessions to be done properly, his pain was the last thing on his mind.
The magical process was significantly less painful than the Muggle counterpart, or so he’d been told, but it did still hurt (probably because no one would put the proper thought into it if it didn’t). Draco was obviously finding that out, sitting sideways on the chair, his face attempting a blank mask that kept contorting into a grimace before sliding back into place.
Charlie had to wonder if that flushed grimace in any way resembled Draco Malfoy in the midst of being thoroughly fucked. He had to struggle not to shift in his chair at the thought—Gavril would kill him if he moved—but he really shouldn’t be thinking things like this about his brother’s enemy.
Who was staring at him, he realized abruptly as he looked back up. Charlie flushed again, internally cursing his red hair and the give-away skin that came with it, and was surprised when the blond smirked at him. Charlie gave him a lazy smile despite the redness of his skin, and he was gratified by the faint smudges of pink on the pale cheeks.
But then Gavril was finished with his tattoo, speaking to him in the dancing lilt of Romanian that was almost as familiar to Charlie these days as English. “Oh, don’t be insufferable and tease me too much,” Charlie replied in the same language, but Gavril simply laughed at him and gave him the final tally. Charlie peered in the mirror at the dragon curled firmly and protectively around the curve of his scapula, sleepily watchful, before paying up. He would have the twins do a few more charms next time they were in the area.
Charlie paid with a sigh and a final wistfully lustful glance toward the still sitting Malfoy. Remembering in time (to the laughter of both artists) he pulled on his shirt and left out the door into the cold night air.
Though he called himself ten kinds of fool, he went to the tavern directly across the way and ordered another drink, sitting near the window to look out toward the street. Time passed in swallows of beer and the cheers of the men lining the bar as a Quidditch game was announced over the wireless.
And the Quafflepunchers won and Malfoy still didn’t exit the tattoo shop, though the initial prep work for his tattoo should be done by now. Charlie sighed, cursed himself one more time, and pushed himself to his feet, not quite drunk enough to sway. Throwing the bill plus a healthy tip onto the bar, he turned and pulled the door open with the force of his frustration.
The person who’d been grasping the handle was unceremoniously pulled forward with the action, nearly sending them both careening to the floor. Charlie steadied the other man, stepping forward and out of the pub to keep both their balances, only to find himself practically nose to nose with the very man he’d been waiting for.
Those pink, pouty lips parted to say gods knew what, but Charlie cut him off before he could even begin by closing the short distance and pressing his lips to Draco’s with restrained roughness. He’d been waiting what felt like half the fucking night to do that.
It was like one of the dragon rides he’d taken once, on an ornery young male. It was a fight for dominance that was never granted either way, the twisting of bodies as they struggled, and in the end, the high soaring and breathtaking plunge earthward that stopped just short of disaster.
They were panting when they parted, breath mingling like tendrils of dragon smoke in the faint distance left between their lips.
“How many tattoos do you have, Weasley?” came the surprising, huskily spoken question.
“Charlie,” he corrected firmly.
“Charlie.” His name was drawled out almost insolently, and Charlie nipped at the offending lips that uttered it.
“That,” he said, “is something you’ll have to find out for yourself.”