AN: This drabble was written for a challenge, and inspired by the Eagles' Tequila Sunrise. I course own neither Charlie nor JK Rowling's wizarding world.
Charlie trudged wearily back into the camp. From the thin trail of smoke rising lazily behind the trees, just visible in the half-light, he guessed someone was up. It was probably just the others from the night shift, not delayed by a nasty encounter with a nesting mother, indulging in quick drink and a bite to eat before bed, but he couldn’t help but hope it would be Tatiana. Her soft smile would be just what he needed to lift the deep lassitude from his bones, even if that smile was never meant to be for him. He was too tired even to feel the burn of the usual guilt that thoughts of Serghei’s wife provoked.
As he stepped into the clearing, his heart sank to see only Serghei and Mihail, eating out of tin bowls beside the meagre fire.
“Bad night?” Mihail asked. Charlie just held out his right forearm in response so that they could see the livid burn that rippled across his pale skin. Mihail nodded in comprehension as Serghei passed Charlie a bowl of the unappetising-looking stew.
“Sorry,” Serghei offered, “the women went down to the town last night. This was the best we could rustle up between us.” Charlie’s heart dropped, although he knew it had no right to – Tatiana wasn’t even there. They’d be back soon though, as the morning had come; perhaps he could wait up.
“This’ll take the taste away.” Mihail slugged a shot of tuica into a glass and handed to him. Charlie accepted the strong spirit with a grateful nod. “Afraid we were about to head off and get some sleep though. I know you’ve only just got in, but it’s been a long night.
“It’s fine,” Charlie grunted, applying himself to the food as the other two left him to his own devices.
Once he had eaten his fill, he set the bowl aside, picked up his glass and set of towards the ridge. The camp was positioned in the hillside, and only a couple of minutes walk through the trees was a ledge with a view across the valley through which the women would walk on their return. He settled himself on the ground with his back pressed against a tree. The rough bark snagged his shirt as he shifted to sip his shot of tuica. It’s soothing warmth spread through him as he watched the mist, tinged orange in the morning sun, drift between the trees below.
It didn’t touch the hollow chill deep within him though. He closed his eyes and pictured Tatiana’s face, hoping that would help, but all he felt was the empty ache of guilt and loneliness. He knew that he’d never stand a chance with her, even if he were to ever string more than two words together in her presence, and that he shouldn’t dream like this of his friend’s wife, but somehow he couldn’t stop himself.
He took another gulp of his drink in the empty silence of the dawn.