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12 December 2013 @ 08:49 am
Leigh!fic | The Ink Under My Skin (1/2) | Marcus Flint/Katie Bell  
Title: The Ink Under My Skin (1/2)
Author: Leigh, aka leigh_adams
Characters: Marcus Flint/Katie Bell
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: ~13,000
Warnings: None
Disclaimer: Harry Potter is JKR’s. No copyright infringement is intended, and no money is being made.
Summary: Our choices define who we are. Katie and Marcus live with the consequences.
Author’s Notes: Written for the 2013 round of interhouse_fest . My thanks to thimble_kiss for the great prompt! It wasn’t originally my intention to write such a long story, but the muse and I clearly weren’t on the same page. Also thanks to fiery_flamingo , who spins straw into gold (well, at least copper) when she reads for me.





May 2, 1998

It was a day for the history books. It sounded a bit silly to think of it in such sweeping generalizations, but it was the truth. Good had triumphed over evil. Harry Potter had vanquished the Dark Lord, saving them all from certain death. There would be books written about the battle; books that would tell tales of both heroism and cowardice, stories about the valiant Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore's Army.

History, after all, was written by the victors.

The details those stories would omit -- Katie would never forget.

She would never forget the way her best friend collapsed and cried Fred's name over and over again, unwilling to let any of them console her. The sight of little Colin Creevey's body in Oliver's arms. The bloodstains on the stone floor.

She would never forget the bodies.

The sun was high overhead by the time she and several other survivors combed their way through the castle and up to the Astronomy Tower. Every so often, they would find a survivor buried beneath rocks, and the Healers among them would rush to see to their injuries.

Among the survivors, they found more bodies. Su Li, serene in death, her hand clasped in Morag MacDougal's, not a single mark on their corpses; the Killing Curse.

A soft, ragged cough drew her attention from the fallen girls. Katie's head whipped around; the cough seemed to echo all around their band of volunteers -- even in the rubble, the castle acoustics were still tricky. And then she saw it: a broken wand was next to the bloody hand.

She ran the few feet across the corridor, jumping over a small pile of rocks until she was next to the rubble pile. "I'm here, I'll get you out." Her voice dropped to murmur to herself, "Please don't die on me."

Trapped beneath and fallen suit of armor and broken portrait frame, Katie dug through to the still-breathing person buried beneath the debris. She hissed when a splinter jammed itself beneath her fingernail, but she ignored the pain and kept digging. The person's arm was trapped beneath a large rock, and it took all the strength Katie had left to roll it to the side.

Revealing a pale, broken arm imprinted with the Dark Mark. Katie froze.

A Death Eater. She could leave him here -- she could cover the hand and wand up with debris. Maybe he would die, maybe someone else would find him. Surely, whoever belonged to that bloody hand deserved a slow, painful death.

Even as she thought that, she found herself moving to finish the job. Fuck. She shifted the rest of the armor off the body. It fell aside with a loud 'clang,' revealing a familiar face.

There was a nasty gash on his left temple, and one of his eyes was swollen shut, but there was no mistaking the face of Marcus Flint.

One eye opened and met her wide brown gaze. He whispered something, but the words weren't audible.

Katie gripped her wand tighter and raised it so he could see it. "What'd you say?"

He swallowed, a grimace of pain flickering over his bloody features. "Kill...me..." he whispered again.

"You're not getting off that easy." She bent down and grasped the broken pieces of his wand, tucking them away in her pocket. Kill him now, and let him take the easy way out? How many of their side had he killed during the battle? Was he responsible for Su, for Morag? Damn him to the depths of Hell, but she was a better person than that.

"Heidi, I need a Healer over here!"


*~*~*~*~*~*~*



June 12, 1998

In the weeks that had followed the battle, Katie felt like she hadn't stopped moving. The days immediately prior had been a mixture of chaotic and mournful -- for despite the fact that they'd won, the losses had been severe.

She'd attended six separate memorial services. As long as she lived, she would never forget the details of them. The way the crowd -- composed of every member of Dumbledore's Army and the Order still living and not in the hospital -- packed the tiny Muggle church to honor little Colin Creevey. The explosion of colorful flowers for Lavender Brown. The smell of burning joss paper at Su Li's wake.

The heartache and tears she'd cried for Fred.

But the memorials were over. You-Know-Who's followers had either fled, died, or were locked away behind bars and were awaiting trial. The courts were scheduled to convene soon -- after the mandated month of mourning and reflection suggested by their interim Minister of Magic, it was time to see justice served.

Katie felt adrift. With the Quidditch league still in-limbo, she found she had a lot of time on her hands. It was rumored the draft date would be set soon, but until the Department of Magical Games and Sports made it official, there was little she could do but wait.

And Katie Bell had never been an idle sort of person.

She went on runs; twice a day -- once in the morning, once just before nightfall. She ran all over London. From the Queen's Walk on the south side of the Thames, through Hyde Park, on the grounds of the Royal Observatory. It was liberating, having the freedom to run without worrying someone was chasing her.

It also had the added benefit of keeping her in shape. If the draft did happen in the next month, she'd need to be ready.

She'd also taken up baking. The only problem with her new found hobby was that its efforts were contradictory to her daily runs -- eat more, run more. And she had an abundance of biscuits, scones, and other baked goods just lying around the kitchen.

Her baking habit was what led her back to St. Mungo's. There were still quite a few survivors of the battle in resident, having sustained injuries that required monitoring from the Healer's on-call. The frazzled witches and wizards were grateful for a bit of something sweet, as were the other veterans of the battle.

She didn't recognize any of them, but it didn't matter. They'd been fighting by her side. It bonded people in a way few other events could.

"You are officially my favorite person," Healer Ackerley greeted her when she rounded the corner, a large bag full of pastries in her arms. Katie had grown to like the older, no nonsense witch. With her short red hair and youthful enthusiasm, it was hard not to. It was even harder to imagine the Healer having a son at Hogwarts, but she'd been assured that was the case.

"Oatmeal biscuits today -- no nuts, as promised." Katie smiled and handed the bag over to the Healer.

"Perfect. Wouldn't want Amy at reception to have another reaction. I know we’re in a hospital, but we're already running ourselves ragged as it is without having to worry about our own staff needing attention." Healer Ackerley rolled her eyes. "The Healer on-call for the prisoner corridor already called in sick this week -- nasty case of spattergoit."

"The prisoner corridor?"

"The ward where injured Death Eaters are being kept until they're well enough for trial," the older woman explained as she fished out a biscuit. She took a bite and made an 'mmmmm' of approval. "We lost one to her injuries a few weeks ago, but there's still twelve or so on the mend."

Unbidden, her mind flashed back to the Death Eater she'd pulled from the rubble. Katie hadn't given much thought to Marcus Flint since that night, but she couldn't deny feeling a bit curious about his whereabouts. "I know you can't tell me much about your patients --"

"Can't tell you much of anything, if we're being frank. Healer/patient confidentiality and whatnot." She quirked a brow at her, a few crumbs gathered on her lip. "What's on your mind, Katie?"

Katie shrugged. "I found a man -- a Death Eater -- at Hogwarts that night. He was pretty banged up, and I didn't know if he was still in the hospital."

Setting the bag of goodies down on a nearby Healer's desk, her companion reached for a nearby patient chart. "No harm in checking. What's the name?"

"Marcus Flint."

Healer Ackerley flipped through the pages, glancing at names until she paused. "Yes, Flint is still in residence." She looked up at Katie, her expression curious. "Do you know him?"

The younger witch shook her head. "Not really. We played Quidditch against each other at school, but it's been years since I saw him. At least, years before that night."

She nodded. "He's down the hall, past the security warden, in case you're interested." A small device at the Healer's belt started to beep shrilly, and she swore. "I've got to dash. Thanks again for the biscuits, Katie."

"Anytime!" Katie waved as the woman dashed off down the corridor, another Healer joining her. Shifting her bag, she turned to head towards the exit.

Marcus Flint was still in the hospital. That was interesting.


*~*~*~*~*~*~*



June 14, 1998

She didn't last two days before she was back at the hospital. All of yesterday, Katie had wrestled with the niggling idea of checking in on Marcus Flint. It was ridiculous; he was a Death Eater, for the love of God! He didn't deserve her sympathy, or her company, and he certainly didn't deserve the almond biscotti she'd tucked in her shoulder bag.

But at the same time, she wanted to see him. There was no good reason for it -- they'd never been friendly. Or cordial. Or civil. He was a Slytherin, and she was a Gryffindor, and they hated one another. It was the principle of the matter.

Or so she'd thought. Unlike the majority of her classmates, she'd never hated Slytherins. Not really. Intense dislike, she had that covered. But pure hatred? It wasn't her thing. It likely stemmed from having a mother who'd once been in Slytherin House -- if her own mother was a snake, then there were obviously some redeeming qualities there.

Hidden far, far way.

On a similar line of thought, she'd recognized him beneath that rubble. Beneath the rocks and the wounds and the dark tattoo on his forearm, he was someone she'd once known.

They'd been schoolmates. They'd faced one another on the Quidditch pitch. It wasn't something she could just forget.

The look the security wizard gave her when she approached was friendly. "Hello there, love, can I help you? If you're looking for the lobby, you took a wrong turn -- shoulda made a left instead of a right, you see."

"I think I'm in the right place, but thank you," Katie replied with a small smile. Now that she was here, an unexpected bout of nerves was making itself known. Her knuckles were white where she clutched her handbag strap, and she could feel a dribble of sweat trickling down her spine. "I... I don't even know if visitors are allowed, but if they are, I'm here to see someone in this ward."

The wizard -- whose name badge read RHEON in large, blocky letters -- looked at her in surprise. "Ain't many people coming to see the patients here, love. Actually, I ain't had anyone sign the log since they got here. Who you wanting to see?"

"Marcus Flint."

"Why?" Given the circumstances, Katie would have expected a hostile tone, but Rheon was more confused than accusatory. "You his bird?"

"No!" she replied quickly. "We were... classmates, a long time ago."

He stared at her for a long moment, then shrugged. "Suit yourself, love. You'll need to sign the log book here." He gestured to the blank book in front of him. "And turn in your wand."

Katie's hand froze mid-outreach, the quill just beyond her fingertips. "My wand?"

"For security purposes, but you'll be alright without it," he assured her. "He ain't got a wand of his own, and there are security measures in place. He won't hurt you."

She remembered his wand, snapped at his side when she'd found him. "I'm not afraid of him," she murmured instead, signing her name to the log book along with the date and her time of visit.

Rheon shrugged. "Most people would be," he said. "Hold your arms out, please."

Doing as he requested, Katie watched as the security wizard ran his wand over her body. When nothing set off the alarms, he took her wand and placed it in a small box on the desk. "Down the corridor, third door on your right. Should be open."

"Thank you," she murmured, feeling extremely vulnerable without her wand -- almost naked. As she passed down the corridor, she ignored the looks from the few Healers she passed. There was a palpable tension on the ward; understandable, all things considered.

Stupid Katie, she thought. Now that she was here, she wanted nothing more than to do an about face and march back out the door. But dammit, she was a bloody Gryffindor, and she would -- at the very least -- make it to the room before she bolted.

As the guard had said, the door was open. She approached it cautiously with soft footsteps. It was a small room with little more than a bed, a window, and a table with a pitcher of water. Now that she could see Flint, she understood what Rheon meant about 'security measures.'

Heavy manacles encircled his wrists and ankles. Marcus Flint was literally chained to the bed.

For a moment, it looked as if he were asleep. Standing in the doorway, Katie wordlessly watched him. The wound on his temple was healing, the angry tissue faded to pink with time and care. Other than that superficial note, he was an entirely different man than the broken person she'd found buried in the castle rubble.

It took a moment before she realized his eyes had opened, and he was staring at her.

Katie blinked and took a fortifying breath, exhaling softly. "Flint."

"What are you doing here?" He muttered, shooting her a look that no sane person would describe as 'friendly.'

She shrugged and took a step into the room. "I had some free time. Thought I'd pop in and see how you were doing."

Flint grunted in derision. "Why? So you can gloat?"

She shot him a look. "No, I'm not here to gloat."

"Then why are you here, Bell?"

"I really don't know."

He snorted. "Shocking. A Gryffindor doesn't know something. This is breaking news."

She took another step closer, irritation making her bolder. "You know, you're not really in a position to joke. I may not know why I even bothered coming here, but I do know that I wasn't stupid enough to back a lunatic with a serious inferiority complex."

His eyes narrowed. "Thought you weren't here to gloat."

Katie rolled her eyes. "Whatever. Shouldn't have wasted my time." Flipping him two fingers, she spun on her heels and turned to leave.

"Why didn't you kill me?"

She paused and glanced over her shoulder. "What?"

"Why didn't you kill me?" he repeated the question. "You could've done it. No one would've stopped you. Fuck, I asked you to."

Her dark eyes softened slightly, her lips pursed in a thin line as she thought for a moment. She'd asked herself the same thing in the nights following the battle, and in the day she'd spent agonizing over whether or not to visit him.

"I didn't want your death on my conscience," she finally answered softly, lifting her chin in challenge. "Whatever happens to you is what you deserve in the eyes of the law, not what I think."

Without sticking around to hear his reply, Katie hurried down the corridor towards the desk where Rheon sat, watching her anxiously. "Everything alright?"

"Just fine," she said, but the shaking of her hands belied her nonchalant tone. Riffling through her bag, she fished out the small package of biscotti and handed it to the guard, managing a weak smile. "Have some biscotti. I baked it myself."

He exchanged the biscotti for her wand, eyeing the baked biscuit gratefully. "I take it we won't be seeing you back here again?"

She shook her head. "Probably not. Thank you for your help."

"And thank you for the food, love," he said gratefully, ripping the bag open. "Have a good one."


*~*~*~*~*~*~*



June 17, 1998

"Back again, Katie?"

From her vantage point just inside the door, Katie glanced over her shoulder and mustered a small smile for the redheaded Healer in the corridor. She shrugged. "Don't ask me why. I don't even know what I'm doing here." After her initial run-in with Flint, she’d sworn she wasn’t coming back to the prisoners’ corridor. Yet something drew her back, so here she was. Dammit.

Healer Ackerley stepped into the room and stopped next to her. Both women gazed at the man sleeping somewhat peacefully in the bed. Every so often, Marcus would twitch in his sleep, disrupting the even rise and fall of his chest.

"I'd say you were visiting a friend, but I know that's not right."

Katie shook her head. "We're not friends." She shook her head and sighed. "Everything is just so mixed up in my head, you know? Grief and anger and happiness combusting. I feel like I'm going to eventually explode."

The older woman shifted, adjusting her clipboard beneath folded arms. She turned her even green gaze to Katie. "And Marcus...intensifies these feelings? Dampens them?"

She shrugged. "I don't know." She felt like a broken gramophone saying that, but it was the only thing she was sure of was her uncertain emotions regarding Marcus Flint. "I should hate him -- I want to hate him -- but I... I just can't." Her eyes flickered to meet the Healer's, her voice softening. "He asked me to kill him."

"When you found him?"

Katie nodded. "When I pulled the debris off him, I saw the Dark Mark first. I realized I recognized him second. When he saw it was me, he asked if I would kill him."

Silence fell between the two women. Katie turned her attention back to the very man they were discussing. For some reason, her subconscious wouldn't let her forget his last request -- death.

She'd fought alongside the DA and the Order at the battle. She didn't think she'd killed anyone; at the very least, she knew she'd never cast the Killing Curse. But then again, in the heat of the battle, spells that weren't lethal by definition often became so. But Marcus... his death wouldn't have been in self-defense. It would have been an execution.

That wasn't her. Katie Bell wasn't a killer.

“Can I ask you a question?” When the Healer nodded, Katie asked, “He looks like there’s nothing wrong. At least, his wounds are gone or have scarred over already. Why is Flint still here?”

“Ah.” Healer Ackerely sighed and glanced over at her patient. “Not all wounds are external. Mr. Flint suffered quite a bit of internal damage -- a few more hours, and I don’t think he would have made it through.”

A few more hours. Katie stumbling across him had literally been the difference between life and death. She hadn’t realized -- but she also wasn’t any sort of medical professional. Despite her extensive stays in the hospital over the years from Quidditch injuries and her run-in with that cursed necklace, she knew very little about healing.

“Katie?”

“Hmm?”

"May I suggest something?"

She glanced over at the Healer in question. "Yes, Healer Ackerley?"

The redheaded witch smiled. "I've told you, it's Jade."

"Fine." Katie crinkled her nose. "Jade. What do you suggest?"

Jade turned her gaze towards her patient, though her words were directed at the younger woman. "One of the younger Healers on staff studied psychology at university. It's primarily a Muggle field of medicine, but she's a Muggleborn and grew up familiar with the subject. She's had some success in getting our patients to talk about their state of mind, especially those -- like yourself -- who saw combat."

Katie blinked up at her. "You think I should talk to a Healer? Why?"

"Not all wounds can be fixed by magic. For the most part, we can heal a person's body without any lasting effects. Mentally, though..." Jade trailed off and glanced back at Katie. There was understanding written in the look she fixed on her. "You're no stranger to this hospital, Katie. I know your history. It might help if you talked your emotions through with a stranger, someone with no prior knowledge of you."

For a long moment, Katie was silent. The idea of talking to a stranger made her immediately want to run out of the hospital and never come back. She'd never been the type of girl who wore her heart on her sleeve, who made friends with everyone she met.

"I'll think about it," she finally replied a bit dubiously.

The Healer nodded and smiled. "I think it would be good for you."

She had her doubts about that, but Katie didn't feel like arguing. Glancing back at the bed, she sighed. Flint, lost in his dreams, jerked in his sleep and groaned a word Katie couldn't make out.

"Is he saying something, or is that just the usual Flint grunt?"

Jade shook her head. "I can't tell. I've heard him say a name in his sleep before, but I couldn't make that out."

"A name?" Katie cocked her head to the side and looked at Jade. "Whose name?"

"Lucy." The older witch shrugged. "I don't know who she is. You're the only person who's come to visit since he arrived. Does that name sound familiar."

Katie shook her head. "I've never met a Lucy before in my life." But now that she knew there was a Lucy in the mystery of Marcus Flint, she was determined to find out who she was.


*~*~*~*~*~*~*



June 22, 1998

"Who's Lucy?"

“I said you could sit there, Bell. I didn’t say you could talk.”

“I don’t recall asking your permission.” Katie’s brow rose in challenge, her lips twitching. Every day for the last week, she’d been coming back to ‘visit’ Marcus. The first three days, she just stood in the doorway for a few minutes before leaving.

The fourth day, he’d huffed and told her she might as well sit down. Her hovering in the doorway was annoying him.

Dark eyes flashed an irritated glance at her, and he shifted beneath the thin blanket. "I don't know anyone named Lucy."

"Liar."

"I'm a Slytherin, Bell. It's what we do."

"Maybe." Katie set her book to the side and leaned closer to the bed, fixing him with a defiant look. "But I'm a Gryffindor, and we tend to call people out on their shit. So spill, Flint. Who is she?"

"Don't tell me you're jealous," he drawled, a hint of a smirk playing at his lips. "I am chained to this bed, Bell. Wouldn't be that difficult for you to take advantage of me."

Katie's nose crinkled. "Don't make me vomit. I only wanted to offer the poor woman my condolences, if she's trapped in a life with you." She quirked a brow at him in question. "And don't change the subject. Who's Lucy?"

His face darkened, lips set in a thin line. "Drop it, Bell."

"Touchy, are we?" Her tone turned mocking, and she cocked her head to peer at him quizzically. "I'm guessing she's an ex. Is that right?" He glared at her, but it only encouraged her goading. "An ex-girlfriend of yours... I bet she tossed your trollish arse to the curb once you got that pretty new tattoo, didn't she? I don't think any self-respecting woman would want to be stuck with a Death Eater --"

"She's my sister!” The slowly-simmering anger she'd ignored came raging to the surface. His face red with emotion, Flint continued to shout, "My little sister, you pathetic excuse for a Gryffindor. Do you want to know why I have this tattoo, Bell? Do you?"

She felt like someone had thrown a bucket of cold water over her head. "Flint, I didn't --"

"You didn't what, Bell? Think? You see the Dark Mark, and you do what Gryffindors do best: make stupid assumptions that are just plain wrong."

"I'm sorry."

"I don't give a fuck if you're sorry or not. I did what I had to do to save my little sister, and look where it's gotten me." He raised his arms to rattle the chains shackling him to his hospital bed. "I don't know where my sister is, or if she's even alive, and yet you drop by, day after day, just to lord your little victory over me. Well congratulations, Bell, your life is sunshine and roses, and I'm going to Azkaban for the rest of mine. You win."

"That's why you took the Mark." Comprehension slowly dawned on her, and she realized with a growing sense of horror that she had completely misjudged the man sitting in front of her -- painting his character with bold strokes and lumping him in with all the others. The ones who'd joined Voldemort because they were true believers.

Not the ones who'd had no choice.

Flint rolled his eyes at her. "You're a smart one."

"I'm not the one who had to repeat seventh year," she sniped back.

"Please. Make fun of my intelligence if it makes you feel better about yourself." He visibly deflated, as if he were a balloon pricked by a needle, and slumped back against the pillows. "Such a kind witch, you are."

Katie ignored him and went for the pertinent question. "Flint, why didn't you tell anyone about your sister?"

He gave her a patronizing look. "Who would have believed me?"

"I think proving you have a sister would be fairly easy to do."

He snorted in derision. "You lot believe what you want to believe. So what? I have a sister -- no way of proving anything else."

"Of proving you were coerced?"

Shaking his head, Flint didn't answer. "Just... get out of here, Bell. I'm done with this little interrogation."

"Flint..."

"Out!"

Her temper flared, but Katie could recognize -- most of the time -- when it was best to walk away. Pocketing her wand, she stood and grabbed her book. "This conversation isn't over, Flint."

"I could never be so lucky."


*~*~*~*~*~*~*



June 24, 1998

"I hope one of those bags are for me," Rheon commented when Katie appeared at his station. He glanced up at her, thick mustache nearly hiding his cheeky grin. "And if they aren't, you might want to sing a different tune -- I do control who gets in this particular ward."

Katie crinkled her nose at him. "You think I'm that heartless, Rheon, to leave a pour soul such as yourself without some butterscotch biscuits, fresh from the oven?" She handed one of the paper bags over to him. "You wound me."

"Ahhh, Bell, marry me." The burly guard opened the bag and stuck his nose inside, inhaling the delicious scent of baked goods. "We'd make a good pair, methinks."

"Methinks your wife might have something to say about that."

He shrugged and rose, pulling his wand from its holster. "Eh, you can't blame a bloke for trying.” Setting his biscuits to the side, he nodded shortly. "Right, you know the drill."

She set her handbag, book, and other bakery package on the table and stepped back, holding her arms away from her body. Rheon ran his wand over her belongings; finding nothing out of the ordinary to trigger the security spells, he ran the same spell over her.

"We wasn't sure you'd be back," he said conversationally, though his tone was low. The Healers wouldn't like it if he were overheard gossiping about their patients, especially one with as high a profile as Marcus Flint. "Ain't heard him that narked since he got here." He stepped back, satisfied once more that she wasn't coming to the hospital to murder a defenseless man chained to his bed.

Katie sighed. "I know. I fucked up." She grabbed her stuff and tucked it beneath her arm. "Time to wave the white flag."

The guard nodded, sitting back down on his ample bottom as he reached for his bag of treats. "Right. Well, luck with that."

"Thanks," Katie muttered. Her footsteps echoed down the familiar hallway. As usual, it was nearly deserted. she noted that the door next to Flint's room was open where it had been shut last she'd visited. A quick peek inside revealed an empty bed and pristine room, its occupant gone.

She'd have to check the evening Prophet to see which trials had happened since her last trip to the hospital.

Reaching Flint's room, she found the door slightly ajar. Knocking once to alert him to her presence, she stepped inside. She half expected another shouting match; at the very least, being told to go jump off a cliff.

Instead, he grunted. "You."

"Me," she agreed. Taking his indifference as a sign that his mood was improved, she moved into the room and held the bag up. "I come in peace."

Flint raised a nonchalant eyebrow at her, and she rolled her eyes. "Freshly baked pumpkin pasties." She plopped the bag down on his stomach, allowing herself a small smile when he gave an 'oof' in indignation. "Enjoy."

"Don't need your charity, Bell," he muttered gruffly.

"Oh, shut up and enjoy them, Flint," she replied peevishly. "It's got to be better than the food here."

"In case you haven't noticed, my hands are literally tied to the bed."

"Nice try, but I'm not going to feed you. You might bite my fingers off." Ignoring whatever he muttered under his breath, Katie added, "You've got enough leeway for your hand to reach your mouth." Just enough -- he might have to tilt his head forward a bit, but he'd survive.

Settling into the chair at his bedside, Katie reclined back and crossed her ankles over one another. "Now, you and I are going to have a little chat."

"No, we're not."

"Yes, we are," she said firmly.

Flint glared at her, the furrowing of his brow making the angry gash on his forehead stand out. "Why? Five minutes was enough of your chatter for me. Didn’t we have enough?"

"If you count your grunting as a form of communication, then we have. But since I do not, you're going to tell me exactly how you wound up in this hospital bad."

"I'm fairly sure a hex had something to do with it."

"Before the battle, Flint. I want to know how you wound up with a Dark Mark burned into your arm -- the whole story. And how does your sister factor into it?"

His expression was stony. "What good is that going to do?"

Katie sighed. "Just... just tell me, Flint. We can discuss the merits of Storytime with Mr. Flint when you're done."

He stared at her for a long pause with an unreadable expression. Katie held his gaze with an even one of her own, and one brow rose as if in challenge. She could be just as stubborn as he could -- a hypothesis proven when he spit out, "Fine. Where should I start?"

A-ha! "The beginning is usually a proper place," she remarked dryly.

"Well, Bell, when two people love each other very. very much -- as my parents did -- they come together in ways you'll learn about when you're older."

She spared him a cutting look. "Skip the sarcasm, Flint."

"Only if you do, too."

Her nose crinkled, but she nodded. "Fine. Skip the love story and fast forward to the important details."

His chains clinked against the metal bed frame as curiosity finally won out, and he reached for the bakery sack. Opening it with a rustle, he popped one in his mouth. "My parents married straight out of Hogwarts. Arranged match, but they were already keen on each other so it worked. Mum had me when she was twenty."

He licked the sugar and cinnamon off his fingertips. "When I was eighteen, Lucy came along. They'd wanted to another kid, but Mum had some health problems. Anyway, we're a fair bit apart."

"That's an understatement."

Flint ignored her and reached for another pasty. "She was three when Mum and Dad died." His tone was matter of fact, but she didn't miss the way he said the words softly. "I had my majority, so I got custody."

Katie gave him a disbelieving look. "At twenty-one, you had custody of a three year-old girl?"

He shrugged. "Who else was going to take care of her? All our grandparents were dead, and we'd never been really close with extended family. Besides..." he trailed off, dark eyes shifting to the visible tattoo on his forearm. He was quiet for a moment, lost in thought. "She's the only family I have left."

Slowly, Katie nodded. She wasn't as quick on her feet as her brother, but it didn't take a genius to figure out what had happened. "And they threatened to kill her if you didn't cooperate."

"Not in so many words, but they might as well have." He met her inquiring gaze, his voice suddenly choked with emotion. "They said they'd do the same thing to Lucy as they did to the Montgomery boy."

She inhaled sharply. "Greyback?"

He nodded. "My mother was a Rosier. So was Scarlett Montgomery -- they were cousins, a few times removed. They both inherited a chunk of the family fortune when the males were all killed off. The Montgomery's got the bulk of it because Scarlett was older. And the Dark Lord..." he laughed bitterly. "Even a dictator needs a bank account."

"They went after her for her money?"

Katie knew the bare details of the story, but hearing Flint tell it fleshed it out a bit. Scarlett Montgomery had been threatened by Death Eaters to do something -- turn over her family fortune, apparently. And after she'd refused, Greyback had attacked her youngest child.

"After Josh -- that was his name, the boy. Joshua Montgomery -- died, they sent the same people after me with the same message. Take the Mark, fund the cause, and they wouldn't send a murderous werewolf after my little sister."

"You took the Mark to protect her," she whispered.

"Yeah, and look where that's got me. Chained to a bed and waiting to be sent to a prison in the middle of the North Sea." He snorted bitterly. "I don't even know where she is. If she's alive."

A thought sprang to mind, and Katie filed it away for later. Narrowing her eyes, she said, "I've got an idea."

"Famous Gryffindor last words."

She ignored the jab. "I'm going to get you out of here."

"Oh, my knight in shining armor," he drawled sarcastically. "And how are you going to do that, oh savior, my savior?"

"Dazzle them with my wit and charm," she offered with a smirk.

"Yeah, right. Good luck with that. Like you said, who's going to believe a story like that?"

"Luckily for you, I do." She grinned at him and reclined back, propping her feet up on the side of his bed. "And when I'm finished, so will everyone else."


Part Two

 
 
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
mollywheezy: Slytherin--greenmollywheezy on January 14th, 2014 01:34 pm (UTC)
Wow, this is brilliant! I somehow missed it in the fest, but it's no wonder since Real Life was insane. I love the back story you've given Marcus, and Katie's running and baking, and their banter . . . and I don't think I have time to finish reading before I have to go to work!
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