Title: Seeking Virtue
Word Count: 599
Summary: Charlie runs late again, but Theo doesn't mind.
Charlie looked at the time and cursed. He was late, again. Damnitall! Third time in five days—which was, admittedly, better than his usual five out of five, but he knew it wasn’t going to be good enough in the long run.
Why don’t you ever put me first? He could hear the voices of girlfriends past in his head, remember Tonks’ vulnerable hurt after they left school and things fell apart. Remember Callie’s eternal nagging, Viorica’s strident harping, Hestia’s constant disapproving disappointment.
Not that dating workmates turned out differently. Over-exposure to his single-mindedness or messiness turned away as many boyfriends as his under-exposure turned away girlfriends.
Rushing, he hastily piled his paperwork on the desk and hurried past the borders of the Romanian Reserve to Apparate. Luckily light still illuminated England, dusk having just started to fall where he’d been. Thank Merlin for long summer days and time differences.
“Hey. Sorry I’m late,” Charlie said, striding up the lawn of the manor. He practically shuffled his feet when he spoke, though the man who looked up said nothing in reproach.
Which made Charlie feel even worse. Theodore Nott was always there when Charlie needed him; he was a rock, an unexpected shelter after the storm of war lashed at his family, an unforeseen friend when he’d needed one most, and a surprising lover after a few years had passed.
All the more surprising because of the little boy, Theo’s illegitimate son, who ran up and threw arms around Charlie’s legs, followed by a much larger dog that leapt into his arms. “Chaarrleeeee!” Nico squealed happily. The redhead staggered under the combined assault, grinning broadly.
“I would say you’re just on time,” Theo told him dryly, coming to peel his toddler off Charlie’s leg. It wasn’t an easy task. He ordered the dog down, and once the redhead was unencumbered he finally kissed him, both hot and chaste.
This patient equanimity of Theo’s, the refusal to get upset over ‘little’ things like Charlie being two hours late or arriving smelling like dragons, always threw Charlie through a Seeker’s loop, roll and dive. No one could not be upset over it, his life so far had shown that.
“I meant to be here in time for dinner,” Charlie told him, another apology present if unspoken.
“You still are. I fed the beasties. We’ll eat later.”
“You didn’t have to hold dinner for—”
Theo soothed a hand up Charlie’s back. “Charlie, I don’t mind. You know me by now—I have patience.”
But Charlie had run off patient people before. Worn them out. Patience finally evaporated under the heat of his dragons, and he’d be left by someone he loved. It was a matter of time. “Patience goes away,” Charlie said softly. He was trying, but it wouldn’t be enough. It never was.
“It’s my only virtue,” Theo said wryly, wrapping both arms around Charlie, pressing against him from behind. “I have enough to compensate for all the absent ones.” His voice bordered on wicked and his lips brushed the freckles on the back of the neck.
Charlie couldn’t help the shudder and chuckle. “You’re not always patient,” he reminded, leaning back, placing hands over Theo’s as they teased the hem of his shirt.
“I save it for when it matters, Chaz. Now stop worrying before I decide to be patient all the time.”
What an evil threat, Charlie thought, but he did put aside his worries about this wonderful thing ending and played patiently with Nico for awhile longer… before he got to ‘play’ impatiently with Theo that night.
A/N: I really enjoyed writing this one, even if I didn't make the cut.