Pairing(s): Charlie(/Tonks past), Victoire, Bill/Fleur
Word Count: ~ 4,145
Warnings (if any): Sentimentality, implication of a threesome. Gen.
Summary: Charlie is made Victoire’s godfather upon her birth, and he becomes an intrinsic part of her life.
“Here, Charlie. Meet your goddaughter.” Bill unceremoniously transfers a pink bundle into my arms when I’m barely in the door of Shell Cottage.
I freeze, shocked, looking down into the face of what feels like the tiniest being I ever held, though that isn’t true—baby dragons are smaller. But this child is infinitely more fragile, more delicate, and I am holding her.
“What are you on about, Bill?” I ask, still frozen in place, afraid to jostle the tiny being. “I can’t be her godfather.” My voice is a whisper, as if any noise will stir her peaceful slumber.
She sleeps on, tiny, perfect face peaceful.
“Of course you can. You’re the only one I want for the job.” My brother always has had the utmost faith in me, though I can also sense that by this he is also once again tying me closer to the family, as if I’d fly away with my dragons and never come back.
She stirs, yawns, even stretches one little arm, miniature hand reaching for something. I fill it with my large, rough finger, inadequate but a peacekeeper as she only blinks slowly but doesn’t cry.
It’s not Bill who takes away my choice in this matter; it’s her. “’allo, princess,” I murmur at her. I look up at my older brother. “What is her name?” I ask, realizing I have no idea. I’ve only just arrived, after all, at the news that she was born at all.
I avoid grimacing, but only barely. It isn’t that it’s French—for I do adore Fleur. Rather, it’s that the name seems almost as ruffled as the pink monstrosity wrapped around her. “Welcome to the world, little princess.” I use my previous endearment, and shuffle her in my arms until I can press a gentle kiss to her forehead. “I’m your godfather.”
“Fly, fly, fly!” Vicky demands. “Fly, Unc’l Charlie, fly!”
I hold her and spin her around, hands spanning across her small rib cage. Her arms spread as if they’re wings, simply waiting for enough air beneath them so she can soar on her own. “Fly, fly, higher!”
“As you wish, princess.” She’s so small, for a five year old. The delicacy of Fleur’s frame is apparent, with an echo of my sister in there somewhere, a bit of Weasley besides the strawberry blonde of her hair. One hand clutches the stuffed dragon I gave her before she could remember me giving it to her, as if she can make it fly as well.
It isn’t until everything blurs that I pull her back toward me and collapse on the ground, not even jostling her.
“More,” Vicky demands, twining her arms around my neck and blinking her large baby blues at me. She certainly does know how to get people in her life to do things—the product of her mother, I think—but though I love to do all she requests, I can’t always.
“Not right now,” I tell her firmly, despite the continued spinning of the world around me.
“But Uncle Chaaaaarlie…”
“No, Vicky. We can fly later.” Her lip pouts at me and I feel like a horrible uncle. “Patience can be rewarding, princess. Give it a chance. Now let’s go see what your cousins are up to.”
Though with her father she might have thrown a fit and with her other uncles she would have continued to wheedle, she simply looks at me before nodding. “Oh, okay,” she says with a sigh, and even waits to take my hand before we wander off.
“That’s my girl,” I tell her.
I can’t imagine a more beautiful and proud grin I receive for that.
“This is all your fault, Charlie,” Fleur says. The words contain pique, exasperation, and more than a measure of frustration.
“Not all,” I tell her. “Fleur, I get to see Vic for a week in the summer and on all family holidays and the occasion when you and Bill invite me over. I can’t be responsible for all her antics.”
“You encourage ‘er! And eet is Victoire, not ‘Vic’ or ‘Vicky’!” It’s a mark of her ill temper than her English slips so precipitously.
I can only shake my head. She’s blowing it all out of proportion. I really can’t see what the big deal is about Vicky liking to climb trees and fly as high and fast as her junior broom will allow her or getting dirtier than the boys on a regular basis..
“You do!” she insists as if I’m denying it. I’m not.
“Fleur… she just wants to have fun. It’s not my fault she doesn’t think parties or reading and stuff like that are fun.” My arms cross and I find myself defensive, as I often seem to be when it comes to my goddaughter.
“It’s not… not…” I don’t think I’ve ever seen Fleur quite this upset, and I really wish Bill were here right now, but I dropped by while he was at work directly in the middle of a mother-daughter screaming fight.
“Proper.” I finally complete her sentence before the strain of finding the proper word makes her scream. “Fleur… sometimes what’s proper for you isn’t the same as for everyone else.” What else can I say? She has a sense of propriety somewhere between my mother and a pureblood snob, at times, and she has a plan she wants her children to follow. “Just… make some tea and sit at the table. I’ll get her cleaned up for you.”
I go up the stairs and into Vicky’s room with a perfunctory knock to find my goddaughter crying in still muddy robes—light blue, silk, and not something she liked at all, I knew from experience. “Come on, princess. Let’s see what we can do to salvage this.”
Her pale face is flushed pink and her blue eyes are miserable, but she takes my hand and lets me lead her. “Uncle Charlie…” She’s hesitant as I help her take off the robe, glad to find see the shift under it isn’t quite as filthy. “Why do you call me princess? Princesses are supposed to be like Mere… like that!” For a nine-year-old girl, she already has quite the flair for the dramatic as she flings out an arm at the splattered silk robe. “They’re supposed to be good and obedient and… and…” Her eyes well up again and she practically wails.
Little girls still terrify me, even Vicky—especially when they cry. No matter how many times it happens, I still feel helpless, especially in the face of my goddaughter’s tears. “Oh, princess,” I say, unable to avoid the endearment. “That’s not what a princess really is.” I crouch in front of her, wiping her cheeks with my thumbs. “Princesses are strong, smart, and they go for what they want. The best kind of princess does the work herself, helping others, because then her people love her.”
She sniffles, and I pray she’ll stop crying. “Your Mum is her own kind of princess, and you’re another. Be good for her, but that doesn’t mean you don’t reach for your own stars too.”
“R-really?” It’s a relief to see her try to pull her tiny self back together again.
“Yes, really. You’re a princess to me, no matter what, Vicky.” She truly is, even if I get in trouble on her behalf a lot. I don’t have any children—no woman wants to put up with me for long enough—but if I did, she’d be it.
I kiss her forehead and send her off to change. What the hell am I going to do about this robe?
The owl barely made it, and consequently I barely make it to Platform 9 ¾ in time. I hadn’t’ planned on seeing Victoire off, since Bill said it might make her too emotional, but I couldn’t resist the last minute owl with her young scrawl pleading with me to come.
Sometimes, I think she has me wound around her little finger more tightly than her own father.
I can’t say I mind.
“Uncle Charlie!” Her arms are about my neck before I even really see her.
“Princess. What’s wrong?” She looks exhausted, eyes red-rimmed. I look back at Bill and Fleur, and they both shrug helplessly. Apparently neither of them know exactly what’s going on.
Vicky looks back at her parents before tugging me a good half a platform away from them. “Oookay now, poppet, what’s going on?” I ask, crouching at her level. Even at eleven, she’s small—I think she’ll make a brilliant Seeker someday.
Despite the distance, she leans really close and shields her mouth with her hand. “What if I don’t get in Gryffindor?”
I almost laugh. Almost. But of course, being the first Weasley to go to school since the War, it might be a good question. But Bill isn’t a stickler, unlike Ron, so I tell her the truth. “Is that it? It doesn’t matter what House you get. So long as you’re happy, no one cares where you end up.”
“But they do. Uncle Ron said it was my job as the first Weasley in years to get in Gryffindor. Or I wouldn’t really be a Weasley.”
The frown on my face is fierce, but it doesn’t scare her. She simply clings to my arm. “You know better than to listen to your Uncle Ron. He’s thick headed.” I tap gently on her head with my knuckles. “You can be wherever you want. Why, my best friend ever was a Hufflepuff,” he confided, and her eyes widened.
“Yes, really. And she was the best. So I think you’ll end up wherever you’ll end up happiest, even if it isn’t Gryffindor.” The look of relief on her face is adorable, and I can’t deny that her arms around me again gives me a fuzzy feeling that usually only my dragons give me.
Somehow, I’m not really surprised to receive her note later informing me (rather gleefully) that she was Sorted into Hufflepuff.
Thanks for the picture. I’m proud of you! Seeker and Team Captain, and only a Fifth Year!
What does your mother say about the haircut, though?
Before I get a reply, a bright red envelope is dropped by a familiar looking owl. The Howler explodes before I can hex it into silence.
“CHARLIE WEASLEY, DID YOU TELL ‘ER TO CUT ‘ER ‘AIR?!! HER BEAUTIFUL HAIR!!”
I can only feel so bad, though, because really Victoire looks quite fetching in her new hairdo, and I know how much easier it will be for her to take care of it. She always complained it got in the way during Quidditch games.
She does now. Sorry.
Hufflepuff is so going to cream Gryffindor again this year.
Little minx. I simply shake my head and laugh quietly. In so many ways, she reminds me of Tonks, back when we were at school together… and yet, not.
That’s my girl. I write, and send that simple note to her just because it will make her laugh.
It’s never a surprise to me when Victoire shows up at the Reserve, ever since she earned her Apparition License. But today I expected her to still be at Hogwarts, possibly at Hogsmeade as it’s the weekend for it. Probably with Teddy.
Instead I nearly run into her as I’m heading in for breakfast at the main house. The other Keepers are long used to her coming and going through the years, treating her like she’s my daughter instead of niece/goddaughter. Her face is red and blotchy and she’s stamping in her dragonhide boots.
So maybe, this time, it is a surprise to me, especially when she throws her arms about my neck and holds on for dear life. “What’s wrong, princess?”
An inarticulate snuffling sound is my only reward until I force her to look at me. It breaks my heart, seeing her face all twisted up like that, and I wonder who I’m going to have to go beat up on her behalf. It’s been a few years since I’ve had to loom over any of her boyfriends, as Bill does a great job all on his own, but like she’s told me, there’s sometimes nothing better than a tattooed uncle who works with dragons to get a point across.
“I b-broke up with Teddy but everyone thinks I’m crazy,” she stutters, and under my hands her shoulders shake alarmingly.
I hate it when she cries. It’s even worse now that she’s half grown up. Tears my heart into little pieces.
“Well now. I’m not the best person to ask romantic advice from, you know,” I tell her (not for the first time) as I lead her to a more private spot. To my mother’s eternal lament and my family’s endless teasing, I’ve never managed to settle down, mostly because I prefer it how it is. Children just weren’t in the cards for me, and besides, I’ve got Vic.
Vic sniffs loudly but starts to calm down, even attempting a faint smile as we get to a grove not far from the main house that has a couple of benches. “I know. I just… everyone who’s heard so far hates me for breaking it off with Teddy, but I’m going to be out of Hogwarts soon and…” She sighs gustily and sits—rather, flops in a way that more resembles me than the grace of her mother and father.
“What’s your mother think?” I have to ask, even if I believe I already know the answer.
Her nose wrinkles. “Loathes it. She adores Teddy, you know. Thinks he’s a good, steady influence.” She mimics her mother’s French accent on those final words.
I sit near her, unable to mimic her knees to chest position anymore—getting too old. I can’t say I disapprove of her move, and my silence seems to communicate that. “You think I did right to break it off?” Vic ventures after a moment. She’s the only one of my siblings’ kids who seems to know the values of the silences between words.
“I like Teddy.” I shrug. I do. He’s a good kid.
“But he’s reaching for a star in a different part of the sky than you. If he doesn’t see that, and doesn’t understand, well…” I shrug again. Teddy reminds me a lot of his father, Remus—a bit tentative and unwilling to run out into the world happily. He doesn’t seem to have a lot of Tonks in him, and I’ve always thought that Vic is a lot like my old friend. Even though those two married, I know they were rather miserable together in many ways. If it hadn’t been for the war, I doubt they would have stayed together.
“I didn’t think of it quite like that.” To my eternal relief, her eyes aren’t watering at all anymore. “He just wants to stay in London, and I want to come here, and… I don’t want him to be tied to a long distance. Or me.”
Which means the same thing, in different words. I only speak what Tonks once told me, when we broke up after Hogwarts.
“Was he upset?”
“Of course. He loves me.”
“Then he should understand. Want the best for you.” Stupid words, stupid, I tell myself, but it’s all that comes to mind. “So should everyone else. I know it’s not easy, princess. But you go after what you want.”
I have. I can’t say that I regret it.
“I once had a similar situation. My best mate and I were in love but just leaving school. But we decided we wanted too different of things and we broke it off. Stayed friends.” It still hurt, just a little, after all these years. Sometimes I wonder, if things during the war had been different, we might have gotten back together. But it wasn’t meant to be.
Her initial consternation at my placating words smoothed out as I told her that. “Who was she? You always mention her, your Hufflepuff bestie, but I don’t think you’ve ever told me her name.”
There was a reason for that. Teddy has been a part of my family’s life since he was born, and most of the time people don’t mention his parents. It’s a habit, and I had never been sure if I should talk to Vic about her and name her. I would have told Teddy, if he’d ever asked, but he always asked people about his father. Apparently his grandmother told him enough about Tonks—even if she never really got her clumsy and humorous daughter.
Should I even tell her now? It might complicate her decision she’d just made. But I’ve always been honest with Vic, even when her parents would rather I wouldn’t be. “Tonks,” I finally say. “Nymphadora, but she hated that name.”
“Yes. Though he’s not much like Tonks other than the Metamorphagus thing.”
I contemplate her almost uneasily, reading her face as she sorted through the emotions my admission triggered. For a moment I fear she will renege on her decision, and go back to Teddy, but then she sighs and a small smile graces her face. “So you do get it. I did do the right thing.”
“I think so, yes. But it’s your thoughts that matter most.” I hug her as she scoots closer. “Just… don’t tell your mother I said so, yeah?”
The laugh goes a long way toward making both our days better.
“What the hell, Charlie? How can you encourage her to run off into the wilderness? You have no right at all to endorse this!”
I haven’t seen Bill this mad in years. His scars are even standing out redder than usual against his face.
“I haven’t done anything wrong,” I tell him in a voice that is maddeningly patient. I developed it especially to deal with my temperamental family. Not that I’m not pissed—I am so fucking sick of being blamed for Victoire’s perceived faults. I just know showing it at this point will lose me more than it will gain. “Victoire has wanted to work with dragons since she had an idea of what she wanted to do. I just helped her get the apprenticeship.”
“Because of you! You wanted someone to be just like you, haring off with dragons in the wild! She could do anything, but instead, because of you, she wants to go get… get eaten!”
Bill has always been overprotective of Victoire, backing up Fleur’s ideas of what their little girl should be.
“I don’t want a mini-me. You’re the one who wants a mini-you, Bill. Listen to yourself. You want her to have a nice safe job here where you can watch over her. When has Vic ever wanted to play it safe? No one can make someone want to take care of dragons, it’s just how they’re made. Like me. It’s only those of us who may be slightly crazy but think it’s all worth it that put ourselves into it. You know that. Hell, you’re the one who supported me when I ran off for my apprenticeship!” Bloody hell, Bill himself used to raid tombs and break ancient curses. Dragons are practically child’s play next to some of those things.
The argument doesn’t seem to dent Bill’s anger that much. I have to sigh. “Bill.” I have to try again. He’s my brother. He’s the brother I’ve always been closest to. But it is his little girl we’re talking about. “It’s not about you, or me, or Fleur… it’s about what she wants. This is what she wants. She’s willing to work hard. That’s why I’m helping her.”
Bill sputters, but he loves Victoire. Loves her like I love her, perhaps more, I don’t know. After all, I don’t have children of my own, I only know how much I care for my niece. In the end, he only wants the best for her. That’s why he was angry in the first place.
“I want her to be happy. But, Charlie,” here his voice grows plaintive, “does she have to want to do this dangerous of work?”
I just know that I’m going to get blamed for this. If I weren’t so concerned for Vic’s well-being, I’d be more concerned for the harsh words and recriminations I know will come my way once the family learns what happened to Victoire.
For the moment, though, I’m the only one sitting at her bedside. The Healers are gone at the moment, leaving Victoire swathed with bandages and oozing with lotions and potions to speed her healing from the burns she received.
“Oh, Vicky, it’s all my fault,” I murmur. Even with the excellent care, one side of her face will be forever scarred, though I’m told her eyesight will be undamaged.
“Not your fault, Uncle Charlie.” Her speech is pain-killer slurred but understandable. “I’ve been a dragon keeper for years. I made a stupid mistake and I paid for it. You know how it goes.”
Her words are benediction but I still feel guilty. Perhaps it’s all the years the family has accused me for Victoire’s choice of profession. Perhaps it’s the fact that her perfect beauty is ruined.
“Stop it. You’re being more stupid than Teddy about that Malfoy girl.” She reaches over and smacks at me. Her aim must have been for my arm, but she taps my cheek weakly instead. “S not your fault.”
I take her hand, lean in close and press it to my forehead. “I can’t help but feel bad, Vic. Your face…”
She surprises me with a laugh. She winces, but still she laughs. “You know how much I hated being pretty. Beautiful. Stunning. Maybe now everyone will take me seriously.”
Victoire never ceases to impress me, even if I know part of her is only being brave. She will cry, later, I’m sure. “I already take you seriously, princess.”
“Besides you.” She tries to roll her eyes, but ends up grimacing in pain instead. “Thank you for coming, Charlie. I’d rather you be here before anyone else.” This talk is tiring her out, I can tell. Her lids droop and speech slows.
“I’ll always be here. Go to sleep now, and heal. You’ll need your energy for when everyone gets here,” I tell her, but she’s already asleep.
I feel quite old, dressed in formal robes and trying to tame my hair into order. There’s gray in the mix, shining among the short red. Freckles everywhere, almost a tan, from the years in the sun. But wrinkles in the corners of my eyes also tell my age.
More than either of those things, the occasion makes me feel ancient. “Feel as old as I do?” Bill says companionably, clapping a hand to my shoulder.
“More, I think. I can’t believe she’s getting married.”
Shell Cottage is hectic with energy, and we will soon be evicted from this room for others to make last minute changes for Victoire’s wedding.
“I can believe it,” Bill says. Of course, he’s always expected her to. “I just can’t believe who. Who’s?” He shakes his head.
“Well, Lorcan and Lysander are good boys. Men,” I amend with a grimace. “I’m just glad you and Fleur were okay with her arrangement with the Scamanders. I admit, I didn’t think you’d react well.” Hell, I didn’t react well initially to the news of her ménage e trois, but I knew the two boys and they treat her like a queen, so I couldn’t protest too much.
“I didn’t want to, but like I said, I’m getting old. I’m tired of arguing everything with my little girl. If this is what she wants, I’ll support her in it. Fleur wants some grandkids to spoil too.” Bill’s expression tells me he wouldn’t protest that either.
There’s a loud knock on the door, and it’s Victoire who calls loudly, “Are you two ready yet?”
I laugh, and we leave the room. She’s stunning in pale blue robes, her short pale hair floating about her face. Her scars are pale and silvery, and I think she’s more beautiful than ever even with them.
“Come on!” she demands, laughing, and puts a hand on each of our arms. “It’s time to give me away!”
I lean down and kiss her cheek. “As you wish, princess. Onward to your happily ever after. You deserve it.”
She’s part of mine, after all. And in seeing her happy, I am even happier in my life, for she’s made so much of it worthwhile.
Author's notes: Written for bendleshnitz1 for the 2010 Charlie Ficathon. Thanks to luvscharlie for her patience and to my wonderful beta for her mad skillz. All other faults are mine.