"So, Charles, what is it that you do?" Aunt Volette asks, carefully slicing her knife through the pork loin on her china plate. I look over to Charlie who places his water glass on the table after swallowing a long sip. He's been wonderful this morning, considering I didn't tell him about Aunt Volette's request for brunch until last night. He hadn't had much time to prepare, but he was handling Volette's intruding questions and Luc's intimidating silence like a pro.
"I work with dragons," he tells her with a small smile. "I was stationed in Romania for years."
"What brought you back to England?" Volette presses.
"Personal and professional reasons. I'm heading the Dragon Task Force now within the Ministry."
"He's fantastic at what he does," I interrupt, shooting Volette a pointed look before I spear a red potato on my fork. "Charlie is well respected, both here and in Romania."
"You were accused of rape, Mr. Weasley," Luc contends, shocking the table into silence as he places his elbows on the lace tablecloth and steeples his hands together. "The Deputy Minister's daughter. You were nearly thrown in jail."
Wide eyed, I grip my fork tightly before I hiss. "Luc."
"It's all right, Avie." Charlie looks toward my uncle, his expression calm. "All charges were dropped, Mr. Rousseau. What happened in Romania was a misunderstanding."
"And your drinking problem? Philandering?"
"Luc," I exclaim again, shocked at his rudeness. Volette tsks and shakes her dainty hand at Luc before turning to Charlie.
"My husband is not as tactful as he could be, but we are well aware of your history, Charles. Any man who captures our Aveline's attention is subject to our scrutiny. You understand."
My eyes meet Charlie's and I try to silently signify my apology for my aunt and uncle's rudeness. He looks away, back to Volette, surprisingly at ease for the accusations being thrown at him. "Aveline is very dear to me. I would never hurt her."
"Charlie and I are having a baby," I announce suddenly, satisfied at Volette's soft gasp and Luc's narrowing glare. "I'm due in November."
"A baby?" Volette asks, her icy gaze shifting between us. "You're not even married, Aveline."
"And we have no plans to marry," I reply. I look toward my uncle and know deep within his mind he is already wondering what it will take to get Charlie under his thumb the same way he now has Whizzy. I wasn't going to let that happened this time. "We're going to have this baby together, and that's all you really need to know."
"Aveline," Volette continues, her voice a scandalized whisper. "Are you aware of how this will affect the family name."
I smile tightly. If only she knew what else could affect the family name....all she would have to do is ask Luc. Or Babette. Maybe Volette already knew. "I am sorry, Volette. It was unexpected but I don't see the point of getting married simply over a pregnancy."
"No you wouldn't," she murmurs. Her eyes swing to Charlie. "And you intend on taking care of my niece and her child? With your job cleaning up dragon dung?"
"For Merlin's sake!" I release my fork with a clatter to my plate and ignore Charlie's calming hand on my arm. "Charlie doesn't clean up dragon shit."
"He's a good man, he treats me wonderfully and he's going to be a fabulous father. If you have a problem with that, we'll leave and you won't have to worry about me any longer, and that means never seeing my baby."
"Darling, there is no reason for the attitude," Volette responds, her eyes flashing with restrained temper. "Please, calm down."
"I know what you're thinking," I continue. "You think I'm slumming. I know how you feel about men like Charlie, families like the Weasley's. You think I don't know? Well guess what, I was married to a wealthy, distinguished man just like you had always hoped and he turned out to be a complete jackass with no cares about anyone but himself. If you want me to be happy, then accept that I'm with Charlie now, whether you like it or not."
"Well, I..." Volette sputters, but she's cut off by Luc who stands and sets his napkin on the table.
"Aveline, I want to speak with you." When I remain sitting, silent now, his own eyes darken. "Now, Aveline."
I hate that he can make me feel like I am fourteen again, but I know better than to disobey my uncle. Throwing my napkin on the table, I push back from the table and stand. Charlie reaches for me and I give him a soft smile to indicate I'll be okay. I leave he and Volette alone, something I would have to apologize for later, and follow Luc out of the table and down the hall. I follow him into the study and cross my arms across my breasts as he shuts the door and walks toward me.
"What's going on, Aveline? Does Babette know you're pregnant?"
"She's happy for me," I tell him stubbornly. "She said that the Weasleys were good breeding stock."
"And what's in it for you?"
"A child," I snap, stepping back from him when he gets too close. "I'm allowed happiness, Luc. I married Randall as I was told. You're now in charge of his company and I have millions of Galleons locked away in a vault at Gringott's. Now it's my turn to make my own decisions."
"He's a commoner. We've raised you better."
"His family is Pureblood."
"His brother is a beast."
"That's not Charlie," I retort. "I don't care what Babette told you. Charlie is a strong man, he's my friend and that's all that matters." Luc lifts his hand and I wince when he touches my face, his thumb grazing my cheekbone.
"You've never been disobedient, darling. If you trust this Charlie Weasley, then you may have him." His hand slips to my neck and I grit my teeth when his fingers graze my collarbone before he tightens his hand around my neck, pressing his thumb against my throat. "But if you try anything, Aveline, to break away from your duties, you'll be punished."
"Are you going to bend me over your knee and spank me?" I hiss before lifting my hand to push his hand away from my neck. "I'm twenty nine years old now, Luc, or have you forgotten?"
"I haven't forgotten." His gaze drifts over me before he lowers his voice. "Remember who you are, where you came from. I would hate to think you would do anything to disappoint your parents."
Furious I push past him to the door. Walking down the hall with brisk movements, I begin to enter the dining room once more when I hear Volette's laughter. Curious, I pause and peek into the room, stunned to see them both standing. My aunt is trailing her finger's up the arm of a very uncomfortable looking Charlie. Volette leans forward and whispers something I can't quite hear. Charlie smirks and very carefully lifts her hand off of his arm.
"I appreciate the offer, Mrs. Rousseau, but given the circumstances, I would consider that highly inappropriate."
"My husband and I have an understanding," she replies seductively and if it weren't Charlie on the other end of her come on, I would have been impressed by her Veela skills. "There are many empty rooms in this house, Charles. Many rooms with strong locking wards."
"I'll remember that, if your niece and I ever have to stay the night. I promise you that she's the only one I would be sleeping, or shagging, in those rooms with." I can't see Volette's face, but Charlie's smile widens. "Thank you for brunch, Mrs. Rousseau, but I believe it's time for Aveline and I to leave."
I step back into the hall, my smile shaky when Charlie exits the dining room. He starts when he sees me. "What did you hear?"
"Enough," I confess, but before I can say anything more, Volette walks from the room, her own surprise evident when she sees me. She recovers quickly, not a hint of her attempt to get Charlie into her bed, and she reaches for me.
"Darling, do come and see us again. I want to know more about your baby. Perhaps dinner next week?"
"Perhaps," I agree and we kiss each others cheeks. "Thank you, Volette."
I turn and take Charlie's hand. We leave the house and walk to the Apparition point before Charlie speaks. "I can't believe you put up with that."
"I have too. They raised me, gave me a home. They were the only family I had for years." I inhale deeply and rub at my neck absently. "I owe them."
"Is that what you think? Or what they think?"
I pause and look at Charlie. "No psychology today, okay? Let's just go back to the flat...I'll thank you properly for putting up with them."
"Oh? How will you do that?"
I lean forward seductively and cup him, smoothing my palm over his arousal. "Take me home and I'll show you."
Charlie grins and leans in to kiss me. And just like that, with the touch of his lips on mine, I forget my aunt and uncle and the incredibly deepening problem I continue to find myself in.