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Confusion and Beaus

Confusion & Beaus

"Are ye sure it doesnae hurt that badly?" Ophelia asked, looking over at Andrew with worry at the burn on his forearm. It was mostly healed up, but still looked a bit painful.

"Oh, I'm fine. Nothing like what Colonel did to Weasley the day we found him," Andrew said. She turned her eyes to Charlie, who only shrugged. Just how badly had Colonel hurt him?

She couldn't help as her eyes roamed his arms, looking for the tell-tale signs of a burn scar. Though they were littered with them, she couldn't see any relatively new ones.

"They healed me up fine," he said.

"It's on his back," Andrew said, catching Ophelia's search. She looked at him, her cheeks reddening slightly.

"Ruined my favorite shirt," Charlie joked.

"Every shirt is your favorite shirt," Andrew quipped in return as Charlie chuckled.

"Sometimes I forget how dangerous this job can be," Ophelia said, turning back to her lunch.

"Surprised, seeing as you were trailing Weasley. He's in the clinic more than anyone," Andrew replied. Ophelia gave Charlie a look, which caused him to blush slightly.

"Told you… easing you in," he said.

Ophelia chuckled, showing him she wasn't that upset. Since the might-have-been-a date, she had relaxed around him, taking Daria's advice to heart. Though she still couldn't help the flutter that started up in her stomach whenever he smiled at her.

"Well, next time I'm out with ye, I expect to see some wild dragons," she replied.

"Of course," Charlie said. "Think you're out with me in a day or two." Ophelia smiled at him.

"Good," she said, already excited about the prospect.

"Mail call!" Adara shouted as she walked into the mess hall with a large bag on her shoulder.

Ophelia turned back to her food, eager to finish up and get back to the office so she could finish up her work for the day and then relax with a book. She vaguely registered her calling out names as Andrew started in on another story.

In fact, it took Adara standing right next to her, a grin on her face, to get her attention.

"Got some things for you," Adara said. She put down a package with messy handwriting that Ophelia immediately knew was from Oliver. She chuckled as she grabbed it and started unwrapping it.

"That Blishen's?" Charlie asked, leaning over to look at the bottle.

"Only the best from Oliver," Ophelia said with a sigh, pulling open the letter that accompanied it. "Says he thought I'd want a taste of home. Does he bloody think I'm in Antarctica?"

"Knowing Oliver, likely," Charlie said. "You up for sharing?" Ophelia turned to him, smiling.

"Always," she replied. Adara cleared her throat, getting everyone's attention.

"Who's M. Flint?" Adara asked.

Ophelia froze a moment, seeing a sly smile spread across Adara's face as she held out an envelope. She gulped and took it, looking down at the surprisingly neat handwriting.

Marcus Flint had written her? Why?

"A beau, perhaps?" Adara asked.

"Oh! No! He's… just a friend," Ophelia said quickly, her cheeks flushing again.

"Really?" Adara asked.

"I should get these to my cabin," Ophelia said, gathering up the package and letter, then hurriedly making her way to the door. She glanced over her shoulder to see Charlie watching her with a curious look that she didn't have time to decipher.

"Bugger," she muttered before continuing on to her cabin.

Once there, she sat the firewhiskey on the table and opened the letter, too curious to let it sit until later.

Reading through it, it was just a normal letter. No profound confessions of love - not that she was expecting that. He was curious to hear how things were going on the reserve and if she was enjoying herself. Though that in itself was odd. Until Ophelia remembered that she had agreed to meet up with him when she got back.

Right.

She had completely forgotten about Marcus and their promised meeting in the time she had been here, too caught up in the excitement of the reserve and dragons. And well, Charlie Weasley. How on earth did she handle this?

Sighing, Ophelia sat down and grabbed parchment and a quill. Best to write him back, she supposed. It was the polite thing to do, after all.

~~~

Ophelia trotted through the camp towards the main office, noting it had taken her longer than expected to write back to Marcus. But just as she was about to round the corner of a building, she heard voices and stopped.

"Did you see her run out of the mess hall? I'm telling you - something's there," she heard Lazlo say. Ophelia got a sinking feeling in her stomach. She knew they were discussing her. The question was, just who was discussing her with him?

"There's clearly something with this M. Flint," Adara agreed. Well that should be no surprise. Ophelia was starting to get a feeling in the pit of her stomach that she didn't completely trust the woman.

She had thought she was being nice, warning her about Charlie and all. But her little act in the mess hall had Ophelia thinking differently. She had intentionally set that up, she knew it. But why? Was this all related to Charlie?

"I'm telling you - no chance," she then heard Charlie say. Ophelia held her breath as her eyes widened. Fuck, she should have known they would be talking to him. "Her brother and him had this massive rivalry in school. Still do. Hate each other. There's no way she's involved with him."

"Really? You're telling me you didn't see how red her face got?" Lazlo asked with a laugh. "That was the look of someone who's got something to hide. Perhaps a secret romance hidden from her brother?"

"You can't tell me that you're not curious about it," Adara added. "I mean, I would be if I were you. Has she mentioned him to you at all since she's been here?"

"No, but… Just… drop it. She said he's just a friend," Charlie said, a note of finality in his voice.

"We're just looking out for you," Adara said softly.

There was silence, and then a heavy sigh. Ophelia then heard footsteps and knew someone - likely Charlie - was walking away and towards her hideout.

Looking around she tried to find somewhere to hide, before dashing around another corner of the building and waiting. She looked out, seeing Charlie pass by, his brow furrowed as though he were deep in thought. She waited until he walked out of sight before taking another route to the main office that wouldn't have her passing by Adara and Lazlo.

It was silly. It's not like they were saying anything bad about her, but Ophelia couldn't help but feel embarrassed to have caught them discussing her love life. Er, well, lack of one. It wasn't anyone's business if she and Marcus were dating. Though she certainly didn't want Charlie to think that they were.

Which he was now clearly thinking that they were. Groaning quietly to herself, Ophelia stopped and shook her head.

"This is not Hogwarts," she said firmly to herself. "Ye are a grown woman of 24. Ye dinnae get embarrassed by gossip." She then nodded to herself and continued walking, her head held high.

She could fix this. All she needed to do was talk to Charlie and make it clear that she was not dating Marcus Flint - or anyone for that matter. And then they could go back to their easy friendship.

Or something like that.

Yes, it was a good, solid plan, she decided, feeling better and more confident. Adara and Lazlo could fuck off, for all she cared. This was her life.

"Oh good, you're back. Good lunch?" Elena asked as Ophelia walked in. She stopped and looked over, seeing the warm smile on her face.

"Yea, suppose," she said.

"Good, I need to go over stocks with the clinic and see what we're running low on. Care to join me?" Elena asked.

"Sure," Ophelia said, smiling. The two left the main office, making their way over to the clinic building. "How many healers do you have here again?"

"Just the two full-time. Plus, we often have an apprentice or two to help them. They change regularly," Elena said. "We have a program with a wizarding hospital in Bucharest where they send trainees to complete internship hours before they graduate."

"That seems economical," Ophelia replied, her mind already thinking that would be a good way to meet the required number of healers the law required while keeping costs down.

"It is. The hospital covers their pay and we provide accommodation and such," Elena said. "They get hands-on experience and we make sure we have enough healers on hand to keep our people looked after. Helps that we also make a lot of our own potions and such here."

They stepped into the clinic, seeing one healer already occupied with working on a tamer with a slightly mangled hand. Ophelia stopped a moment, her eyes wide. She wasn't queasy by any means, but up until now she had yet to see any injuries for herself.

"Ah, what happened here, Alex?" Elena asked, walking up to the two.

"Got smashed between a post and a juvenile Longhorn in the pen," the tamer - Alex - said, grimacing as the healer repositioned his fingers. "Feisty, she is. But should be ready to be released in a week."

"Good to hear," Elena replied. She looked up at the healer. "Just here to check the stocks, Laura."

"Go on back. Frankie and Lottie should be able to help you," Laura said, her attention fully on her task.

Elene and Ophelia continued on to a large back room of the clinic where there were shelves and stores of various potions and salves and other supplies. A young man was at a potions set with another woman, the two of them looking over at the visitors as they walked in.

"Just a moment," Lottie called out before turning her attention back to the potion. "Now, you just put the last ingredient in… like so… and… done!"

"We let it sit a couple hours, yes?" Frankie asked.

"Yep," Lottie replied, wiping her hands off on an apron as she turned and walked over to Elena and Ophelia. "What can I do for you?"

"Just here for the weekly check on supplies," Elena said.

"Ah, good. We're running low on bubotubers," she said. She then looked at Ophelia. "Brew a lot of healing potions around here."

"Suppose ye would," Ophelia said, looking around the storeroom in awe. She had never seen one this stocked before. Even the one at Hogwarts seemed small in comparison, though the reserve had fewer people than her old school. "Do ye purchase all your ingredients?"

"What we can't scavenge," Lottie said with a sigh. "A lot grows around here naturally, but still have to get supplies shipped in."

"How's the land? Have ye considered a greenhouse or garden?" Ophelia asked, looking back at her. Lottie raised her eyebrows and looked over at Elena.

"Told you she was smart," Elena said with a smile. "We had one, but it's hard to keep up with our staff. Found it easier to just order in what doesn't grow naturally."

"Hmm," Ophelia said, stepping over to the shelves as Lottie walked over to a desk to grab a list of things the clinic needed.

A greenhouse and garden would be a great way to help Hebrides be self-sufficient, Ophelia thought. Though Elena was correct in that they would need someone to help keep it up. But perhaps rather than bringing someone in, they could work out something with the local residents. Maybe buy ingredients from farmers that were already growing them.

She wracked her brain before recalling that there were several farms in the area that might grow the necessary ingredients.

A bout of soft laughter drew her attention as she looked back over at Lottie and Elena, both watching her with amused looks.

"I'm sorry?" she said, worried they had said something to her that she missed.

"It's nothing," Elena said. "Just enjoying seeing that curious mind of yours at work." Ophelia blushed slightly as she glanced at the shelves again. "Come, we should put in the orders."

"Sure," Ophelia said, walking over to her.

"You any good at healing or potions?" Lottie asked.

"Good at basic healing," Ophelia said. "Better at potions."

"Good. Perhaps you can do a day in the clinic with us," Lottie said.

"I'd like that. If anything to see what goes into keeping it stocked and running," Ophelia said.

She and Elena said their good-byes and set back for the office. Ophelia looked around the camp, her mind wandering to Charlie and wondering what he was doing that day. While she appreciated learning all aspects of the sanctuary, she was keen on getting back out in the field.

"Ah, I know that look," Elena said. Ophelia looked over at her, confused. "You want to get back out to the dragons, don't you? Or perhaps… to work with someone else?"

"Oh, no! I mean, I would like to work with the dragons again, but I've really enjoyed working with ye," Ophelia said, not wanting to offend her. Elena chuckled softly and then looped her arm through Ophelia's.

"I mean… there is someone special out there that you enjoy working with," Elena said, a conspiratol glint in her eyes.

"I… no," Ophelia said, her cheeks flushing.

"It is okay. You don't have to tell me anything. But I will say… he is a good man," Elena said. "A decent man. And I can tell you are a good and decent person as well."

"But… I'm only here for a short time," Ophelia said.

"Ah, yes. Well, sometimes it is best not to worry so much about the future that you forget to live in the present," Elena said sagely. Ophelia remained silent, thinking over her words. "Now… we have much work to finish today. Best to get started…"

~~~

Ophelia stretched as she stepped out of the bathroom, fully relaxed after her shower. There had been a rather lot of work to do in the main office. And then her reports and such that she had to send back to the Ministry. She had opted for dinner in her cabin just so she could get them all finished by a decent hour.

Now, she was looking forward to relaxing next to the fire with a book, though her mind had wandered - not surprisingly - to Charlie. She hadn't had a chance to speak with him and explain the whole Flint thing, though she had planned out the entire conversation in her head about 20 times by now.

And she couldn't help but also think to what Elena had told her. The older woman had obviously picked up on something between them, though Adara's warning was still there as well. But really, after overhearing her, Ophelia was beginning to wonder about her motives. Perhaps she had only said that to get Ophelia out of the way. She had heard of such things - mostly from Daria. Hufflepuffs hadn't been the sort to use such tactics in dating. Most certainly not Ophelia.

But this all came back to the same question - was there something between her and Charlie? Or was it that they were just good friends? Perhaps he was spending so much time with her because he was eager to hear more about home?

Frowning to herself, Ophelia walked over and picked up a book on dragon health that she was about halfway through and sat in a large, comfy chair in front of the fire, though didn't move to open it, too caught up in her thoughts.

How did she go about figuring out what this was? The easiest, most logical solution was to just talk to Charlie about it, but that spiked a bit of fear. What if he didn't feel anything towards her and only saw her as his mate's little sister? That would be awfully embarrassing. But it was a necessary part of life. And she was an adult. Surely she could handle it.

However, could she handle the next few weeks working with him knowing that he only saw her as a friend when her feelings definitely were veering in a different direction? She supposed the good part of that was it would only be a few weeks and then she'd be gone. But on the flip side, if it turned out there was something, she only had a few weeks and then she'd be gone.

Shaking her head, Ophelia sighed. This was giving her a headache. Perhaps she'd sleep on it and worry about all this tomorrow.

A knock sounded on the door, drawing her out of her thoughts. Ophelia looked to the clock, noting the time and then back at the door. Her heart rate picked up. Perhaps it was Charlie.

Putting the book down, she started towards the door, then stopped at a mirror to fluff her hair a bit. She then stopped and rolled her eyes, realizing just what she was doing. Huffing, she walked over to the door and pulled it open.

Her eyes widened when she saw a grinning Lazlo standing there, a bottle of something in his hand.

"Missed you at supper. Thought we could hang out," he said, glancing down at her pajamas. While they weren't anything scandalous, with the look he was giving her, Ophelia wished she had put on her robe.

"Oh. Ehm… if it's alright, raincheck?" she said, offering a small smile. The last thing she wanted was Lazlo in her cabin with alcohol.

"Really? I swear, this is top shelf," he said, holding the bottle up.

"I appreciate it, I do. But I'm just so knackered," Ophelia said, faking a large yawn. "Probably going to bed soon. Got a full day tomorrow and more reports to write." Lazlo smiled and nodded slowly.

"You know, Wood. You really need to learn to let loose a bit," he replied with a wink. "But I can take a hint. Next time."

"Goodnight," Ophelia said, watching as he backed away from her door.

"Night," he called out.

She then shut the door and leaned against it, letting out a sigh. Well, that was interesting. But crisis diverted. Now she could go back to her musings - er, her book. Yes. That's what she was going to do.

She was going to read a book, not stay up half the night thinking about Charlie Weasley.

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