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Crushes

Crushes

Ophelia spoke soothingly to the Antipodean Opaleye as she ran her hand up and down its snout, distracting the creature from Charlie, who was working to get a rather large splinter out from between its front claws.

"Such a braw dragon, ye are, Kaiwhare," she crooned, the young dragon's glittering eyes fixed on her. It then leaned its forehead against her chest, pushing against her slightly and causing her to chuckle as she stumbled back a bit. "I swear, we're nearly done."

Looking over towards Charlie, she raised her eyebrows at him. He glanced up and smiled as he nodded, before returning to his work.

"Just about got it… Keep distracting him," he said.

"Perhaps if Uncle Charlie is decent, he'll remember to bring ye some nice fish or a bit fat sheep next time," Ophelia said, looking back into the dragon's eyes. It snorted softly and moved his head up and down, almost as though agreeing with her. She rubbed between his eyes again.

"Oh, he eats well enough," Charlie called out.

"And I'm sure ye dinnae spoil him in the slightest," Ophelia replied. Charlie chuckled.

"May want to step back," he shouted out in warning. "In three… two… one."

Ophelia hopped back in time to miss getting singed as Charlie yanked out the splinter and Kaiwhare gave a yelp, a small jet of bright red fire leaving his snout. The dragon turned its head as Charlie walked up to Ophelia's side, tossing a thin stick about seven inches long in the air.

"No wonder you were in pain," he said, looking up at the dragon. Kaiwhare snorted again and leaned down to sniff the stick before turning away. "Wouldn't much like it either."

Both Ophelia and Charlie backed away, allowing the creature a wide berth as it started across the clearing and then took off into flight.

"I'm surprised he's so docile. The others too," Ophelia commented.

"Trust me. The wild ones, you don't want to get that close to. Takes a team of us to stun one into submission so we can work on them when they're injured," Charlie replied. "Kaiwhare, the others we've been working on, they've been here awhile and can't really make it in the wild. They're used to us." Ophelia looked over at him, smiling.

"So, ye've been takin' it easy on me?" she asked. He chuckled in reply.

"Easing you into it, is more like it," he said. "But you've been doing well. Really well in fact. Could probably start you with some of the wild ones, I think. Really got a knack to be a dragon handler if you want to switch over full time." Ophelia looked away, blushing.

"Ye flatter too much, Charlie Weasley," she said, feeling an odd stir of butterflies in her stomach.

"Nah, you just can't take a compliment, Ophelia Wood," he quipped. "Reckoned you'd be good from what Duncan's said." Ophelia looked over at him confused.

"Since when has Duncan ever said something about me that wasnae complainin'?" she joked. He ran his hand up the back of his neck, a sheepish smile on his face.

"I mentioned he talks about you a lot. You and Oliver. And it's almost always something he's proud of," Charlie said. Ophelia couldn't help as her eyes widened at the admission. "You didn't hear it from me, but yea, he is right proud of the both of you. Pretty sure I've followed your entire career from his letters."

Ophelia was sure her blush deepened. She had always thought Duncan lived to annoy and tease her. Or protecting her. It was odd to hear that he had actually been bragging about her to his friends.

"Ah, right. Did Oliver really sock your ex-boyfriend?" Charlie then asked. Ophelia rolled her eyes, sighing heavily.

"Aye. Did Duncan then tell ye how he got the whole thing wrong? Thought the poor lad broke my heart when it was the other way around. Not sure how he made it as an auror if he couldn't get that right," she grumbled. Charlie chuckled.

"So, you've become a heartbreaker, is it?" he asked.

"No! Just… there was no… fire," she said dumbly, suddenly becoming all too aware of what they were talking about.

She spun on her heels and started walking towards the edge of the clearing, anxious to get away. She then stopped realizing that Charlie wasn't following her and she had no idea what it was they were meant to do next. Turning, she looked back at him, finding that he had been watching her with that odd look in his eye again. He then shook his head and grinned, jogging to catch up to her.

"I'm sure he'll live," Charlie said. Ophelia huffed and then chuckled.

"Ah, so I'm no worth getting broken up over, is it?" she jested in return, finding it odd how easily she could joke with him while she was still feeling a bit embarrassed at the topic.

"I'd say you're plenty worth getting broken up over. Just he wasn't the right one," Charlie replied, though he kept his eyes trained ahead, red starting to creep up his neck.

Ophelia turned her gaze forward, her heart suddenly racing slightly.

"Suppose that makes sense," she said. The two fell into awkward silence, neither sure where to go from there. Ophelia was desperately searching her mind for what to say next.

Thankfully, a spectral fox appeared and bounded towards them.

"Horntail eggs about to hatch. Could use some help," Adara's voice said from the creature.

Ophelia's eyes widened as she started grinning, all thoughts of the awkward conversation flying from her mind. She turned to Charlie, who was grinning as well.

"You want to help hatch some dragons?" he asked, holding his hand out.

"Definitely," she replied, grabbing hold as he pulled his wand out. She couldn't help the jolt of electricity that flew through her, but before she had time to think about it, they had disappeared.

~~~

Ophelia stood away from the grouping of three eggs, long ago shedding her jacket and rolling up her sleeves. The hatchery was rather warm, considering the eggs needed to be heated up in order to hatch.

There were rows of small areas sectioned off, though only a few contained eggs. They were found abandoned, the parents killed, or sometimes they were unable to look after them. Either way, it was a rare occurrence that anyone got to assist with or even watch a hatching, as Charlie explained to her.

Ophelia was beyond excited that she was getting to witness this.

Charlie and Adara stood on either side of the eggs, their wands pointed at them as flames shot out.

"Think you could help?" Charlie asked, looking up at her, his hair already curling and sticking to his neck and face from the sweat. She nodded eagerly and stepped up, pointing her wand.

"Incendio," she said, watching as a jet of flames shot from the end of her wand and poured over the three eggs that looked as though they were made from grey stone.

After about five minutes, the one closest to her started moving around. She quickly stopped the charm, watching as a small hole appeared and then suddenly, a small head appeared. Charlie and Adara stopped as well, all three of them watching as the first small dragon popped out of the egg, coughing smoke as it tumbled in the hay and then looked up at Ophelia.

She bent down and slowly put out her hand. The dragon inched towards her, sniffing at her hand before butting it with its head, still wobbly on its feet. Ophelia looked up at Charlie, grinning as tears inexplicably filled her eyes.

"It's bonny," she breathed, before looking down at the small thing. Slowly, she eased forward, her hand still out. Though it was just born, she knew the dragon could still give a nasty bite. The Horntail sniffed at her again and then rubbed its head against her open palm. "Hello there, wee'un."

"Think you can pick it up," Charlie said. "Though we try not to hold them too much. Got a female Horntail that'll we'll introduce them to in a few days so we don't want them too familiar with captivity."

Ophelia nodded as she tucked her wand in her pocket and then gently reached down and pulled it into her arms. The dragon didn't resist, settling itself.

"They're adorable," she said.

"And that's why so many people try to buy dragon eggs on the black market," Adara said dryly.

"Ah, looks like the other two are ready," Charlie said.

Ophelia looked up and watched as the last two eggs hatched, the small dragons looking around as though they were lost as to where they were. Ophelia placed her dragon down next to them and the three began sniffing and nipping at each other.

"I could watch them all day," she said, her eyes trained on them.

"So could this one," Adara said. Ophelia looked up, seeing Charlie gazing down at them with a soft smile on his face. She chuckled and straightened up.

"I'll go get the bottles," Charlie said, walking off. Ophelia watched him go for a moment before turning back to the baby dragons.

It truly was a beautiful sight.

Adara stepped to her side and then cleared her throat.

"So… I know you and Charlie have history," she started. Ophelia looked over at her, unsure of where the tamer was going with this. Adara fidgeted slightly before turning and meeting Ophelia's eyes. "I just thought, well, I'd want someone to tell me."

"Tell me what?" Ophelia asked, her brow furrowed. Adara glanced off in the direction that Charlie had walked off in and then back at Ophelia.

"Watch yourself with Charlie," she said, lowering her voice. "I mean, he's a good bloke and all, but… he doesn't do serious. Ever. Wouldn't want you to get hurt. You seem like a lovely person and all."

Ophelia's eyebrows rose as the heat rushed to her cheeks.

"I… I dinnae ken what ye're talking about," she said immediately. "We're just friends." Adara chuckled.

"Oh, Ophelia. I can see it a mile away. You're smitten with him," she said.

"No," Ophelia said. "He's my older brother's best mate. That's all. Like ye said. We've got history. Grew up around each other." Adara chuckled again.

"I've seen it before. We get loads of girls here for short-term stays. Internships. Apprenticeships and the like. He always goes for them. It's hot and heavy for however long they're here and then… it's over," Adara said. "They leave. He stays. Sure some try to keep it going, but Charlie's not that type. He's never long term. The only long-term relationship he cares about is the one he has with dragons."

Ophelia gulped, her mind racing. Was this all some sort of act or ploy? Had Charlie been reeling her in for a short-lived romance and then planned to dump her as soon as she left? He didn't seem the sort, but really, how much did she really know about him? She had barely seen or spoken to him since she was 13.

All she really knew was what he heard from Duncan and Oliver. But how much of that could she really trust?

"Got it!" Charlie shouted, walking back with three large bottles full of a reddish liquid, a bright grin on his face.

"Thank ye, though I assure ye. Nothing's going on," Ophelia said, looking back at Adara. The tamer only gave her a sad smile before walking over to Charlie and taking one of the bottles.

Charlie then held one out to Ophelia.

"Ready for the first feeding?" he asked. She nodded, a tight smile on her face as what Adara said whirled through her head.

"Course."

~~~

Ophelia paced around her cabin that night after dinner. She was honestly shocked she made it through without some sort of odd look on her face, but she had.

Everything that Adara had said to her played over and over in her mind. She then stopped and scoffed loudly.

"There's no way he's interested in me," Ophelia said aloud to the empty room. She then thought back to the past few days she had been working with him. The odd looks. The way he got embarrassed about certain things.

He had been flirting with her, hadn't he?

For a moment, she looked towards the fireplace, tempted to floo Daria or Oliver. She then pushed that aside. She was here for work and work only. Not to have some dailliance with albeit handsome, but otherwise afraid-of-commitment dragon tamer. Besides, she was sure that the fact he was her older brothers' friend put him off limits anyway.

Somewhere in the back of her mind, she heard Daria screeching at her that she was making a mistake. To live a little and have fun.

"I dinnae even like hi-"

Ophelia stopped speaking as the realization slammed into her like the Hogwarts Express. Suddenly, it didn't matter so much how he felt about her.

She did like Charlie. No, she fancied Charlie.

Really, it shouldn't have been that big a realization. She had had a small crush on him at school. And always thought him fit afterwards. Part of the reason she had been so embarrassed about the mistletoe incident at the party was because she had at first thought it was him until she turned and saw who it really was. Had been following him around for most of it. And then Charlie had been the one to find them, though he had tried to discreetly hide the fact they were stuck there until they kissed when a drunken Oliver had shouted it out for the whole room to hear.

But there was no denying it now. She, Ophelia Wood, had a crush on Charlie Weasley, her brother's best friend from school. Who was a bit of a player, apparently. And she most certainly wasn't. No, she never did casual. Wasn't even sure where to start with it. The few relationships she had had in her life had never been shorter than a year.

"Bugger," she said softly.

How was she supposed to deal with this?

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