Oh, I liked this very much. First, it's Charlie, who is adorable. I have to admit though, that sometimes fics set at the dragon reserve are a bit of a disappointment to me. Perhaps its because nearly everyone is an OC, or because lonliness is so often a player in Charlie's existence, but here, you've made it all very engaging. I was so sad in the first part, not only because he decides not to go home but because he doesnt' really know why. I kept waiting for you to reveal the true reason later in the fic, but then you didn't, and I think now that it was very wise. Sometimes we don't know why we do the things we do. Charlie loves his family, but all the activity and family and marriages and kids could be difficult to take for many reasons... anyway, nice choice to leave the the root of his decision a mystery. It added depth to the fic, and a nice dose of reality. Thanks for not leaving him in the uncertainty and the sadness. I liked Emma. She had a fiestiness about her that I think would appeal to a Weasley man (haha!), and the Quidditch connection worked well. Unlike Vicki, I thought the grope in the doorway was actually very believable, considering the holiday and conversation and the alcohol. They had connected, for sure, and I thought that bit worked. I feel dim not realizing she was an apprentice, but that was a nice surprise. While a relationship may be inappropriate, I rather think Charlie has some intention of pursuing her, given his thoughts about being glad he's not going home for the holiday. After all, they aren't in an office situation. They live and work on the reserve, so I wonder if there is more relationship potential than there might be in other work situtations? Great little Charlie fic... and let's face it, we all need more of those in our lives. ~ Lori
Hi, Claire. This is Vicki of Slytherin House. I enjoyed your Christmas story. It has a refreshingly even tone, perhaps because Charlie is now 42 years old, and not thinking or acting like an adolescent. You write with a light, gently humorous style, and I loved the line "The room was silent with everyone hoping someone else would volunteer," because that's how it so often really is.
For a brief story, your tale includes a lot of historical detail, in individual sentences here and there, that really fleshes out the story well. The reader is left with a vivid impression of the staffing of the Dragon Reserve, and the quick characterizations of Charlie's fellow staffers really bring this group of people to life.
Charlie is well-characterized; we can see him as a cheerful, easy-going, competent guy, but still, even at age 42, intimidated by his indomitable Mum and struggling to write a frank letter, finally resorting to a white lie to explain a decision that he cannot explain even to himself.
I liked the fact that when Charlie went into the bar on Christmas Eve, he was happy and looking for fun ("a slightly ruckus evening"). I have read a lot of fics involving depressed people sitting in bars, often on holidays, feeling sorry for themselves, and that kind of story, frankly, gets boring, so I was very glad you didn't go there.
Charlie's initial interaction with Emma seemed cautious and tentative; even though they found that they had something in common, Quidditch, they seemed to be circling each other warily. That seemed realistic; after all, they were strangers to each other. The kiss in the barroom doorway might seem unrealistic, except that it could be the Firewhiskey talking, and the spirit of the season. (Maybe Fane had some mistletoe hanging over his door.)
The humorous undercurrent of your story breaks forth at the end, to give your story a neat wrap-up. Poor Charlie -- he was too old for her anyway, and as her boss he can't have a relationship with her, but he sees the humor in the situation, so all ends happily.
It is fun to read a story about Charlie; he gets stuck off in Romania, generally out of sight and out of mind, except for occasional brief appearances at The Burrow. You have shown him as a very likeable character. Nice job.
Made me feel happy.