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12 December 2013 @ 08:50 am
Leigh!fic | The Ink Under My Skin (2/2) | Marcus Flint/Katie Bell  
Title: The Ink Under My Skin (2/2)
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.

June 30, 1998

"What, no biscuits this time? If you're going to force these visits on me, Bell, the least you can do is feed me."

Katie snorted as she stepped into the hospital room, a copy of yesterday's Daily Prophet tucked under her arm. "Flint, if I didn't know any better, I'd almost think you enjoyed my baking." She dropped down into the seat at his bedside and smirked at him. "Admit it."

"I'll admit nothing of the sort. Saying your biscuits are better than hospital food is not exactly a compliment." He eyed the paper she'd moved to her lap. "Are you going to torture me with my horoscope? It probably says 'partly cloudy with a certainty of prison' under Capricorn."

"Never had much use for Divination," she countered. "Besides, didn't I say I was going to help you?"

"I don't want your help, Bell."

She ignored his surly look and quirked a brow at him. "Fine," she replied breezily. "You get a choice. You can accept my help and possibly avoid prison, or I can walk out right now. And if I leave, there's pretty no much no way you don't get at least ten years in Azkaban -- and that's according to your barrister."

A look of surprise crossed his face. "When did you talk to Diocles? And how did you even know who my barrister is?"

Katie rolled her eyes and tossed the paper at the bed. "The Prophet started printing up hearing schedules on Monday mornings. Your trial's next Friday; it wasn't exactly difficult to ask around, find out who was representing you, and swing by his office."

Settling back in her seat, she kicked her feet up and propped them on the end of Flint's bed. "So, what's it going to be?"

Annoyed eyes glared at her sullenly. "I still don't want your help."

"You're an idiot, Flint."

"And I wasn't finished." He picked up the paper and gave it a cursory glance, then tossed it to the side. "I don't want your help, and I don't want your pity, either. But I'm not stupid enough to turn it away."

"Oh, good, an old dog can learn new tricks."

It was Flint's turn to roll his eyes. "As soon as I get a new wand, the first thing I'm doing is spelling your mouth shut."

"You say the sweetest things."

For a moment, he was quiet. His brown gaze met her eyes and studied her, as if trying to get a read on her thoughts. The intensity was a bit disconcerting -- other than his outburst a week ago, she'd not really seen any heated emotions from the man still chained to his bed.

She didn't know how he made her feel, and it scared her.

"Mr. Caldwell is going to speak to your aunt as well, I believe. Scarlett," Katie added in an attempt to break the silence. "He wants to get some corroborating evidence to back up my testimony."

"That's your plan? You're going to testify in court on my behalf?" Flint narrowed his eyes. "Like Potter?"

"I am."

"Why?" He shook his head. "Bell, you hate me. We're not friends, we've barely been civil before. Why are you helping me?"

"First off, I don't hate you. I might not like you very much, but I'm enough of an adult to admit you're not as loathsome as I once thought."

"Are you sure about that?"

Katie blinked. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"You're not a complete idiot, Bell. I did... I did some shit I'm not proud of. The sorts of things the Wizengamot won't just overlook because you tell them I didn't mean to." His eyes closed, and he took a deep, slow breath. On an exhale, he opened his eyes and looked over at her. "It's a big risk for someone you don't really like very much."

It was Katie's turn to be quiet. She glanced down at her hands, her fingers busy chipping away at her week-old manicure as she tended to do when she fidgeted.

Flint's point was nothing new. She'd gone over it in her head hundreds of times -- by standing up for a known Death Eater, she was risking a lot. Her family, she knew would support her no matter what. Her friends... they were hurting. And it was entirely possible she was risking a future in the League. Was Marcus Flint really worth it?

"I'm not doing it for you," she finally answered. "I'm doing it for Lucy."

At his confused look, she continued. "I lost my dad in an accident when I was little. My mum... she was really depressed for a long time after that -- almost five years. I wasn't as young as Lucy is, but my brother was pretty much the only family member I had left."

Dark brown eyes flickered to meet his. "You both already lost your parents. Lucy shouldn't have to lose you again, too." She sighed and shrugged. "And I guess, despite everything, we're not as different as we always thought."

"Don't tell anyone else, Bell, or I'll have to kick a flock of Pygmy Puffs to keep my reputation intact," he commented dryly.

She tried to ignore the pang of rejection she felt at his comment. Talking about her dad... it wasn't something she'd had to do in a long time. All her friends already knew, and discussing his death and her family dynamics wasn't something she did every day. It figured the one time she opened up, the particularities went ignored.

"Very nice," she said in a flat tone, reaching over to grab the paper. "Anyway, that's why." She stood hurriedly and gave him a small smile and wave. "I should get going. I'll see you next Friday."

"Wait, Bell."

She didn't turn around.


July 2, 1998

If Katie were being perfectly honest with herself, she'd have admitted that running away from the hospital three days ago was a cowardly act. If she were being honest with herself, she'd admit that Healer Ackerley had a point -- that perhaps, she did need to talk things over with a medical professional.

Luckily for her, she preferred the ostrich method to facing her fears -- burying her head in the sand and ignoring them.

Imitating flightless African birds, however, could only work for so long. And so, she found herself back at St. Mungo's, a piece of parchment crumpled in her hand, standing at the doorway to Flint's room.

"You came." Flint's face was a carefully blank, devoid of any telltale signs of emotion. There was a note of surprise in his tone. "I wasn't sure you would."

"Neither was I." Katie held up the note in her hand as she stepped into the room. "Your owl was unexpected, but the wording was persuasive enough."

Flint's lips twitched. "Do you know how many Healers I had to ask before one agreed to owl you for me?"

She rolled her eyes. "You asked one, and Jade agreed." She smirked and took her up her usual perch in the chair next to his bed. "Apparently, you've been pining away without my presence here." She unfolded the parchment and began to read, pitching her tone to a low, seductive rumble. "Miss Bell, my heart cannot bear it when we're apart. Your beauty haunts my dreams, I see your face when I close my eyes, and I long for the day I can touch you because I'm not chained to a bed."

"Ha ha ha," Flint deadpanned. "Very amusing, Bell. What'd the note say?"

"Come visit soon -- Flint misses you. P.S. Please bring some more oatmeal biscuits."

"She did not say that."

"Wouldn't you like to know?" Katie folded the note up and tucked it into her pocket, her face expressionless as she looked over at him. He was staring at her with an indescribable look on her face, and she had to fight not to squirm under its intensity. "So, I'm here. What'd you want?"

He was quiet for a long moment, just looking at her. Katie held his gaze, determined not to be the first to break in the unspoken game of wills. There were dark circles under his eyes that his pale skin only emphasized. For all that he'd literally been stuck in bed for nearly two months, he looked tired.

"Why'd you run the other day?"

Katie glanced away, breaking the stalemate. Dammit. "What does it matter?"

"Bell, I've pretty much laid bare my sodding life story for you. The very least you could do is to return the favor a tiny bit." His brow arched, his lips slightly twisted. "You don't have to keep everything to yourself, you know. Go at it alone."

"And you're one to talk on that, are you?" She couldn't stop the barb from slipping out.

For his part, Flint just shrugged. "Bell, I'm a Slytherin, and I'm a bloke. Neither types are really big on chatting about our feelings. And you know, ignoring the fact that I'm shite at tests, I'm not stupid."

Katie's gaze flickered to meet his again, but she didn't say anything. Undeterred, he finished, "I've got friends who didn't get involved in all this. Montague, Vaisey, Bole. Been mates with them as long as I can remember, but I haven't seen any of them since the war was over."

"Just me."

"Just you." He exhaled and closed his eyes, leaning back against the fluffed up pillows. "Can't say I blame them. Probably would do the same if our roles were reversed. They'll wait to see which way the wind blows and all that rot. But at the same time, it's a kick in the bollocks to know that my only... well, the only person who gives a damn about me is a short Gryffindor girl I used to pummel around the Quidditch pitch."

She didn't say anything at first. She let his words sink in, and not for the first time, was struck by how much his situation really sucked. That his 'friends' hadn't been to visit didn't surprise her -- everyone knew Slytherins looked out for number one. And she'd known for a while that she was his only visitor -- but dammit, she'd have thought someone else would have popped round by now.

A bittersweet pang of affection tugged at her heart -- which she promptly ignored.

"I don't remember you doing much pummeling, Flint," she replied lightly, her lips twitching when annoyed eyes opened to meet her mirthful gaze. "Besides, Montague likely got himself shoved in a Vanishing Cabinet again."

Fred and George had been the ones to shove him in the first time round. The memory wiped the smile from her face immediately.

"Wouldn't surprise me." If he picked up on her sudden downswing in mood, he didn't comment on it. "Long story short, Bell, I guess is this. I don't --"

He reached up to run a hand through his hair, a frustrated growl rumbling when his chains stopped him just shy of his goal. "Part of me hates you. Or wants to hate you. And fuck, I've tried to hate you. But I don't know if it's the butterscotch biscuits talking, but... you know, I don't hate you."

"I don't hate you either, Flint," she answered softly. She worried her bottom lip between her teeth and gave him a questioning look. "Does that make us friends?"

"Let's not get carried away."


July 5, 1998

The night before the trial, Katie had planned to drop by the hospital and visit one last time. But when she'd received the owl from Lee, inviting her and Alicia to dinner, she'd quickly changed her plans.

Group dinner had been a frequent event after she'd finished at Hogwarts. Every month, they'd take turns hosting a little potluck dinner -- it'd been established by the time Katie joined them, as the rest of her friends had all finished school the year prior. From hijinks at the twins' flat over the shop to laughing at the fact that Lee still lived in his parents' basement, it'd been a fun little tradition.

Of course, it'd stopped when the war really started. Now, it'd never be the same.

They didn't meet at home this time, instead choosing a cheap little noodle bar in Muggle London. The mood hanging between the three of them was noticeably depressed; it was impossible not to think on the fact that only half of their "family" was present. George hadn't left the Burrow in weeks, and Angelina was avoiding them all.

And Fred was gone. Fred would never join them again.

Still, they tried to retain some semblance of normality. Lee fell back on his old methods of flattering, praising the beauty of his dining companions while Katie jabbed Alicia's hand with her chopsticks for trying to steal some of her ramen.

Eventually, though, the inevitable topic came up.

"So, Kates," Lee began conversationally, eyeing her over his bowl of noodles, "Ali said you've been visiting Flint in the hospital."

Katie shot her friend a side-eyed look. Alicia, for her part, just shrugged non-apologetically.

She glanced back at Lee. "I have," she admitted. "I was visiting all the battle patients in the hospital and decided to check in on him."

Lee nodded slowly, but Katie could pick up on his tells. The slight thinning of his lips, the way his nostrils flared ever-so-slightly -- signs most people would miss, but then again, most people hadn't dated Lee for two years. She knew her ex-boyfriend better than practically anyone else. Without him saying a word, she could tell he was upset.

"Why?" He used his chopsticks to wind the noodles around his bowl, but his attention was focused on her. "What's it with him?"

Katie shrugged. "I don't know. He's not evil, Lee."

"He's a Death Eater, Katie," Lee hissed. "Look up 'evil' in the dictionary, and you'll find 'see also: Death Eater.'"

"When did you get so judgmental?"

"When did you turn coat?"

"Excuse me?" Katie was sure her ears weren't properly working. At her side, Alicia had gone still; the only visible sign of movement was her eyes, shooting worried looks back and forth between Katie and Lee. "What did you just say?"

He slammed his chopsticks down on the table. Broth slopped over the side of his bowl and ran down the cheap vinyl tablecloth. He ignored it. "You heard me," he replied, tone heated. "Death Eaters killed my best friend, and now I find out you're going to get up in front of the entire world and get one out of prison!"

"Because he doesn't deserve to go to prison!" Katie shouted. She didn't care that people were staring, or that they were in a Muggle restaurant -- State of Secrecy be damned; there weren't any other diners in the entire place, and the staff barely spoke English. She'd take the damn fine if the Ministry got wind of it.

"They killed Fred!"

"He didn't kill Fred!"

"Hey, please," Alicia reached out and grabbed both their hands, tugging gently, "stop fighting."

Lee jerked his hand from her grasp and fixed his ex with a venomous look. "This is ridiculous. The Katie I knew wouldn't willingly breathe the same air as a Death Eater, let alone volunteer to testify at his trial. Before I know it, you'll be wearing green and black and fucking him if you haven't already."

She saw red. Her body reacted on instinct. It wasn't until she heard the loud 'crack!' that she realized she'd reached across the table and slapped him hard enough to make his head whip to the side.

"The only person I've fucked recently is you," she snarled, brown eyes narrow in anger. "That's not a mistake I'm going to make again."

"Good. I'm done." He pushed away from the table and stood, reaching into his pocket for a handful of Muggle pound notes. Tossing them onto the table, he added, "I've lost my appetite."

Alicia and Katie were silent as Lee stormed out of the restaurant, the waiter and owner whispering behind their hands as he left. For her part, Katie couldn't hear them -- in the wake of Lee's stinging accusations, she felt the anger drain from her body, leaving her with nothing but the exhaustion she only felt after a punishing run.

"That... could have gone worse," Alicia volunteered after a moment of quiet. Katie shot her a weak look, and she amended, "Okay, maybe not. He didn’t mean it, Kates. He’s hurting."

“We’re all hurting.” The brunette sighed and propped her elbows up on the table, letting her forehead rest in her hands. "Do you think I'm crazy, Ali?"

"Crazy? Nah." Her friend gently patted her on the back, rubbing soothing circles between her shoulder blades. "But I do hope you know what you're doing."

"I'm trying to do something right." Katie's voice was just louder than a whisper. She could feel a headache forming in that spot between her eyes. "They sent Pansy Parkinson to Azkaban yesterday, Ali. For trying to turn Harry over."

"I heard," the blonde said with a nod.

"I mean, I think she's an awful hag and a terrible excuse for a human being, but Azkaban?" Katie lifted her head to look at her friend. "I don't know if she deserves it."

"And you don't think Flint deserves prison, either." It was a statement, not a question. Merlin only knew how much Alicia knew her friend had debated what to do in regards to their old Quidditch rival.

Katie sighed, then shook her head. "I'm sure he did things -- really bad things. But he was just trying to protect his sister. If I was in his shoes, I'm not sure I wouldn't have done the same."

Alicia nodded. Wordlessly, she reached out and drew Katie into a comforting hug. She rested her chin atop Katie's dark locks.

"Then you're doing the right thing, and fuck anyone who's too shortsighted to see that."


July 6, 1998

There was an anxious sort of energy flowing around the small courtroom as Katie took her seat on one of the lower benches. To her far left, twenty Wizengamot officials sat in their severe plum robes, signifying their status as judge, jury, and executioner. As Flint's case was one of the lesser trials, the court had elected not to try him by the full Wizengamot -- that had turned into the case with the majority of trials. There had been so many Death Eaters and supporters arrested, the Wizengamot would have their hands full for months if the full cadre tried each and every witch or wizard.

Twenty was enough, Katie decided, pulling her sweater in closer to keep warm. Courtroom Thirteen was one of the smaller ones, but it was still in the bowels of the Ministry. She half-wondered if Flint felt right at home, given the Slytherin common room's location in the Hogwarts dungeons.

The other occupants of the room were a mixture of press -- their Quick Quotes Quills at the ready -- and general onlookers. Save for a very few trials, the proceedings were open to the public.

And in the middle of the room, his hands and feet still bound in manacles, sat Flint. Someone had loaned him a set of black robes for the occasion, and despite Healer Ackerley's assertion that he was almost back to perfect health, he still looked gaunt and pale. A diminutive wizard sat beside him -- Diocles Caldwell. She'd met Flint's barrister a few days prior, and despite his appearance, he came across as a very capable wizard.

Katie's attention was jerked away when she felt someone settle in next to her on the bench. She turned her head, eyes widening slightly when Alicia gave her a wry look.

"What are you doing here?"

The blonde shrugged. "Well, I wasn't about to let you fall down the rabbit hole by yourself. Consider this my good deed for the month."

Despite the circumstances, the bubbly blonde managed to pull a grin from Katie. "All of the tequila shall be yours."

"You're damn right."

The two women were silenced by the pounding of a gavel. The murmuring of voices silenced, and the lead Warlock's voice boomed out. "This court is called today to hear the case of Ministry versus Flint, Head Warlock Augustus Ferryflight presiding." The court scribe's quill flew along, recording his every word.

Turning his attention to the accused in question, he continued. "Marcus Aurelius Flint, you are accused of crimes against humanity by your participation as a known Death Eater. These crimes include, but are not limited to: murder, extortion, rape, extermination, political and racial persecution, and other widespread inhumane acts. Your guilt has been proven both by eyewitness accounts and by the Dark Mark on your arm."

Dioclese Caldwell rose. "As you have charged my client, it is within his rights and my prerogative to call witnesses to attest that Mr. Flint is in fact, not guilty of these charges."

The Head Warlock stopped and stared at the barrister. "I...witnesses... it is within the law, counsel, but it has not been the norm."

"However," Caldwell countered, holding up a finger, "there is precedence. I refer the Wizengamot to the recent case of Ministry versus Malfoy."

"Counsel," a thin-faced witch in the second row of judges interjected, "the witness in that case was none other than Harry Potter, the very wizard who killed You-Know-Who."

Flint's barrister nodded. "I'm well aware of the circumstances, justice. However, my witness is a known associate of the Order of the Phoenix and a veteran of the battle at Hogwarts." He raised his hands in question to the court in plea and paused, waiting.

For a moment, there was silence -- save for an occasional drip of water in the back of the room. Finally, the Head Warlock sighed and shook his head. "Call your witness, counsel."

The small wizard smiled. "The defense calls Katelyn Bell."

Every single pair of eyes in the courtroom swiveled and fell to rest on her as she rose, smoothing her skirt to calm her nerves. She calmly walked to the middle of the room and sat down in the chair conjured for her, facing the Wizengamot.

"Please state your full name and town of residence for the record, Ms. Bell," the court scribe started."

"Katelyn Elizabeth Bell of Woolsthorpe-by-Belvoir."

"Thank you. Counsel has stated you are an associate of the Order of the Phoenix. Is that correct?"

Katie nodded. "Yes. I was a member of what we referred to as Dumbledore's Army whilst at Hogwarts, and I was involved with the Order in the year after I finished school."

At the scribe's satisfied nod, Mr. Caldwell took over. "Ms. Bell, please describe your history with the accused."

"We were in school together and played Quidditch against one another. Flint was several years older than me, so until last month, I hadn't seen him in years."

"And would you explain to the court how you came to be reacquainted with my client?"

She swallowed and clasped her hands together. Despite the chill, she could feel the sweat trickling down her back. "I found him beneath a pile of rubble, after the battle was over. I called for medical attention because he was wounded in several places."

She paused and took a breath. "Since the beginning of May, I have been visiting St. Mungo's to bring baked goods to patients and Healers. I... Well, until the League sets a draft date, I don't have much to do to occupy my days other than train. I started to visit with Flint a few weeks ago."

"Which is when Mr. Flint told you about his sister?"

"Do not lead the witness, counsel," the Head Warlock rebuked sharply. He turned his attention back to Katie. "Ms. Bell, please explain why Mr. Flint's sister is pertinent to these proceedings."

"Flint's sister, Lucy, has everything to do with these proceedings," Katie countered, irritation momentarily flaring. "After their parents died, Flint was granted custody of Lucy. At the time, he was twenty-one. She was four."

Mr. Caldwell produced a few parchments from his briefcase. "Exhibit A for the defense -- the paperwork filed with the Ministry, awarding sole custody of Lucinda Selene Flint to my client. Witnessed and notarized on March 8, 1995."

"He and his sister inherited their family's fortune. And You-Know-Who threatened Flint if he didn't join the Death Eaters. Well," she shifted in her seat and met the Head Warlock's piercing gaze, "he threatened that his sister would be visited by Fenrir Greyback if Flint didn't cooperate."

A low murmur rose in the courtroom as the weight of Katie's words sank in. The barrister seized on the momentum. "Ms. Bell's story is hardly outside the realm of possibility, as we are all aware of a similar case concerning the death of Joshua Montgomery of Kidlington two years ago. In the case of that family, assistance was refused, and the young boy was murdered."

His voice rose in volume, drowning out the other voices in the courtroom. "The only reason my client joined You-Know-Who and took the Dark Mark was to save his little sister from a similar fate."

Another few sheets of parchment was withdrawn from his case. "Exhibit B for the defense -- a sworn affidavit from Scarlett Montgomery, mother of Joshua and a second cousin of my client's late mother, corroborating Ms. Bell's account and legally confirming this method of persuasion by the deceased wizard formerly known as Tom Marvolo Riddle."

He passed the affidavit to the court scribe and lowered his voice. "Given her recent grief, I did not ask Mrs. Montgomery to appear today. However, the affidavit was given in the presence of two Aurors and notarized by Ministry officials."

"Exhibit C," he said, holding up the document, "is paperwork filed by the Department of Children's Services, stating that Lucy Flint was one of several children removed from a home owned by Mirabelle Selwyn, a known supporter of You-Know-Who and mother of Death Eaters Gwendolyn and Felix Selwyn. The child was taken from her brother's home six months ago, and my client has not seen his little sister since."

Head Warlock Ferryflight nodded grimly. "If you're finished, counsel, we have some questions for your witness." At the barrister's nod of approval, the imposing wizard fixed his dark gaze on Katie. "Ms. Bell, when you found the accused after the battle, was there an exchange of spells? Did he say anything to you?"

She shook her head. "No, his wand was broken by the time I found him."

"And did the accused speak to you at that time?"

"Yes." She held her chin up and met his gaze evenly. "He asked me to kill him."

"That hardly sounds like a request an innocent man would make," another witch commented, arching one thin brow down at her. "Why did you not grant his request? Most other would have done so were they in your shoes."

"There is a difference between self defense and murder," Katie shot back hotly before taking a deep, calming breath. She wasn't on trial, and losing her cool might jeopardize Flint's chances for a lenient sentence. "He was unarmed and injured, not a threat to me or to the others with me. Causing harm in the heat of battle is one thing, but I am not a murderer."

Her answer silenced the crowd, and the Head Warlock sighed. "We have no more questions for you, Ms. Bell. You may return to your seat."

Katie didn't need to be told twice. She stood and hurried back to the bench, once more facing the center of the courtroom. Alicia's hand slipped into hers and squeezed reassuringly.

Up until that moment, she hadn't realized how badly her hands were trembling.

"I would like to call an additional witness to the stand, if it please the court."

The Head Warlock waved his hand in a gesture of acquiescence. "By all means, counsel, call away."

The diminutive wizard nodded to the high court. "The defense calls Gwendolyn Selwyn to the stand."

A ripple of gasps and whispers moved through the small courtroom as a back door was flung open. Two Aurors, clad in official crimson robes, strode through; a small, shackled woman nestled between them. She was, at best estimate, in her late thirties. Her prison robes were gray and nondescript, and her dirty blonde hair was plaited in a haphazard braid.

Katie only recognized her from her picture in the Daily Prophet. Gwendolyn Selwyn -- known Death Eater most famous for the gruesome Boxing Day murder of Hestia Jones late the previous year.

Hate-filled eyes glared around the courtroom before landing on Flint, and she sneered. The two Aurors shoved her into the seat Katie had vacated, magical chains instantly rising from the floor to circle her manacles.

"Ms. Selwyn --"

"I am not confessing to any of Flint's crimes," she spat out angrily.

"Nor are we asking you to, madame," Caldwell reassured her, seemingly unperturbed by the angry witch. "You are not currently on trial for anything, nor will this courtroom ask for any information you have not already confessed on record with the Ministry."

The blonde eyed him the way a cat eyed a mouse, her lips curled in contempt. "Then what am I doing here?"

"Ms. Selwyn, you are the only daughter of Icarus and Mirabelle Selwyn, is that correct?"

"Yes. What of it?"

The barrister flipped through several sheets of parchment he'd pulled from his briefcase. "Ah, here we are." He pushed his glasses up his hooked nose and read from his notes. "On the evening of June 14th, 1997, did you visit Flint Manor in Pontefract?"

She shrugged. "Yeah, I did."

"Please describe for the court, your purposes for that visit."

"I may have suggested that Flint show his proper loyalties to our Lord," she replied smoothly. "While we were visiting, I might have remarked on what a pity it would be if something were to happen to his sweet, dainty little sister. Such a pretty little thing she was."

"Something... in the form of Fenrir Greyback, something?"

The Death Eater smiled, revealing teeth that were too white to be natural. "Fen liked the little ones, and the Dark Lord liked to reward him for his service."

Bile rose in Katie's throat. Next to her, Ali shuddered.

For his part, the barrister did not react. "Please describe what happened next."

Another shrug. "I gave him three days to think our offer over." She paused and rolled her shoulders to the side, fixing Flint with a coy look. "It only took him one before he made the right decision."

"Upon receiving the Dark Mark, Lucy Flint was removed from her brother's custody and placed in the care of your mother, was she not?"

"That's right. Long as Flint did was he was supposed to, little miss Lucy wouldn't get to play with a wolf."

"Thank you for your cooperation today, Ms. Selwyn. That is all." The man glanced up at the assembled jurors, and the Head Warlock nodded to the Aurors. Striding forward to take her by her elbows, they led her back out the door and exited the courtroom.

It was silent for half a second before another round of whispers buzzed around the courtroom. For her part, Katie remained quiet. It was one thing to hear the story from Flint -- but there had been malice in the female Death Eater’s tone. She looked like the sort of person who was very capable of torturing with a smile on her face.

Head Warlock Ferryflight banged his gavel against his desk. It took a moment, but finally, the din died down until it was silent and still once more.

"The court will now render a verdict in the case of Ministry versus Flint. All those who find Mr. Flint guilt of these charges, please raise your hands."

A smattering of hands rose. Katie hurried to count before the scribe nodded, and the hands were lowered.

"All those in favor of acquittal, raise your hands."

Five, six, seven, eight, Katie counted, gaze darting between the two rows, nine, ten, eleven, twelve!

They'd done it.

"By a vote of twelve to eight, this court finds Mr. Flint not guilty." The court scribe transcribed the verdict for the official record. "Mr. Flint, you are free to go."

At the words, the manacles on his wrists and ankles opened and fell away, dropping to the stone floor with a loud 'clank!' Flint, for his part, looked stunned. One hand rubbed at the opposite wrist, as if unsure what the feeling of lightness in his muscles was.

Next to her, Alicia leaned in and whispered, "Good job, Kates."

"Thanks," she breathed.

She watched as Flint stood and shook hands with his barrister, the two men exchanging words too softly for the buzzing courtroom to overhear. And then those dark eyes were turned to her.

Her lips twitched when he started towards her, boots heavy on the floor. He stopped in front of her and, after a short staring contest between the two of them, gave her a curt nod.

"I didn't ask for your help."

"I know you didn't."

He crossed his arms over his chest defiantly. "I'm not going to say thank you."

Katie snickered and shook her head, finally rising to her feet. Now that he was no longer chained to a bed, she could fully appreciate their difference in height; even with heels on, the top of her head barely brushed his chin.

She crinkled her nose and tipped her head back, amused brown eyes meeting his. "Color me surprised."


May 24, 2000 -- Two years later

Hair still slightly damp from her post-match shower, Katie grabbed her bag and slung it over her shoulder. Her teammates had all cleared out of the locker room by that point; it didn't take men quite as long to wash their hair. Supposedly. But for once, the Kenmare changing room was blessedly quiet.

There were days where she had to pinch herself. Okay, she had to pinch herself most every day. Playing professional Quidditch had been a dream of hers for nearly fifteen years. It was still sinking in that her dream actually came true. She'd spent a year in the reserves before being called up shortly before the Christmas break when the starting right Chaser had been sidelined due to an unexpected pregnancy.

Rumor was, Mills was planning to retire. Katie had every intention of making this temporary switch a permanent one, come hell or high water.

Opening the door to the locker room, her momentary silence was shattered by screams.

"Katie!" "Miss Bell!" "It's her!"

That part was taking a bit longer to sink in. The fans screaming her name, hanging around the Kenmare Apparition point in hopes of getting a picture, shaking her hand, walking away with her autograph. Only the most devoted hung around this long, though, and tired as she was, Katie was happy to talk to a few fans before she could escape home to a comfortable bed and a glass of wine.

Pulling out the Muggle marker she kept in a bag -- so much more practical than a quill! -- she worked her way down the line of fans, signing the various pieces of memorabilia thrust in front of her; a trading card, a team poster, a Quaffle, even a broomsticks.

"You were brilliant today, Katie! Wigtown didn't stand a chance!"

"Thank you so much for coming out!" she replied with a quick grin. "It really means the world to me."

"Are you going to beat Appleby next week?" a small boy voiced, blue eyes big when she glanced down at him. He grasped shyly at his father's trousers, suddenly dumbstruck.

Katie winked at him. "What do you think?"

The boy grinned, forgetting his shyness. "Yes!"

"Good answer," she replied. Turning her focus to the last two people waiting, she started to thank them for coming -- but the words died on her lips.

She hadn't seen him in nearly two years -- not since that day in the Ministry courtroom. His black hair was longer than she remembered, hanging over his forehead in waves. The white scar tissue on his left temple was barely visible, but it was there. But most strikingly of all was his casual demeanor. He was dressed simply in a crisp, black button down shirt tucked into a pair of denims. And he was...

Well, he wasn't quite smiling. But he was definitely amused.

"Hello, Bell."

Her mouth opened, then shut again as she weighed various replies. Why was this even an issue?

"You need a haircut."

He snorted softly and shook his head. "You still have a way with words. Good to know some things never change."

Her lips twitched upwards. "Hello, Flint," she said. "It's been a long time."

"Two years."

"Very long time."

He shrugged unapologetically. "I've had things to take care of." He glanced down at the other person standing their with them, a tiny little girl hitherto unseen and silent. A genuine expression of pride crossed his face as he squeezed her shoulders. "Are you going to say hello, Bean?"

'Bean' -- or rather, Katie deduced, Lucy -- blinked owlishly up at Katie, her little arms wrapped tightly around the Quaffle that seemed too large for such a small grasp.

Her fog lasted approximately two seconds."KatiebellIcan'tbelieveyourereallyhereIlovetheKestralssomuchandyouremyfavoriteplayerImyourbiggestfanwillyousignmyQuaffleplease?"

Katie laughed -- she couldn't help it. Crouching down so she was on eye level, she gave the little girl a grin. "I'd be happy to sign your Quaffle, Lucy."

Astonished green eyes widened in wonder. "How did you know my name?" She glanced up at her brother in amazement, and he shrugged -- as if the ponce had no idea.

"Of course I know the name of my biggest fan!" Katie assured her, signing her name across the Quaffle with a flourish. "Does your brother bring you to matches often?"

"This is my first!" she proclaimed with a toothy grin. "We've been travelling all around the world, and we just came home a few weeks ago. But Kenmare's always been my favorite team, and Marcus let me listen to their matches on the wireless -- even when we were in Australia!"

"Australia, huh?" Katie handed the little girl her Quaffle back, and she couldn't help the warm feeling of pride she felt when Lucy cradled it in her arms like a baby. "Were those matches past your bedtime?"

The blonde shuffled her feet and kicked at the ground sheepishly, glancing up at her brother. "Maybe. But Marcus said it was alright!"

Katie straightened, the blood rushing back through her calf muscles as she stood. "Oh?" Her brown eyes were bright with amusement, one brow quirked at the big brother in question. "What else does Marcus say?"

Marcus started to cut her off, but Lucy was too quick. "He says that Ballycastle is gonna beat Kenmare next month because Kenmare has a rubbish Keeper, and he says that girls can't play Quidditch as well as men can -- but I think that's just silly, because the Harpies are in second place right now, and they're all women!"

"Not as good as men?" Katie's lips twitched in a challenging smirk. "I think your brother's still sore from losing to some female Gryffindor chasers when we were in school."

"False." Flint snorted gruffly. "Women aren't as strong as men are. They can't take bludgers and recover as quickly."

Katie looked down at Lucy and laughed when the little blonde rolled her eyes, as if she'd heard the spiel time and time again. "Well, Lucy, I tell you what. If you ever want to talk Quidditch with a professional woman, send me an owl."

The little girl's eyes widened as if Father Christmas had arrived early. "Really?"

"Really." She winked. "We girls have to stick together around the boys, you know."

Lucy was practically hovering off the ground, she was bouncing up and down so much. "Did you hear that, Marcus? I can send Katie owls! She'll write to me!"

Marcus's hand fell to her shoulder and held her in place. "I heard, Bean. I was going to send her an owl myself, but I'll just let you do it."

"Oh? Why were you going to owl her?"

He glanced up at Katie and shrugged. "I was going to see if she'd want to get dinner sometime. I never did thank her for... well, that thing that time."

"What thing?" Lucy glanced back and forth between the two adults, her brow furrowed in curiosity. "What time?"

The brunette crossed her arms over her chest and fixed Flint with a questioning look. "That thing that time? I thought you weren't thanking me for that."

"I might've changed my mind." Flint's lip pursed, and he shrugged nonchalantly. "Take it or leave it, Katie."

She blinked at him in surprise. "Fine," she answered automatically, before her brain really had the chance to realize that he'd used her name -- not Bell, not Gryffindor, but Katie. "Next Friday?"

"Eight o'clock at The Blue Owl?"


"Fine." His lips twitched, and for the first time, she saw him actually smile. "I'll see you there." Reaching down, he tweaked Lucy's nose, his own crinkling when she made a sound of displeasure. "Come on, Bean, we've got dinner with your cousins tonight. Say goodbye to Katie."

"Bye bye, Katie! Thank you for signing my Quaffle!" Beaming up at Marcus, she allowed him to lead her away towards the Apparition point, pausing every few steps to wave over her shoulder.

Katie waved at the pair until they were out of sight. Adjusting her shoulder bag, she glanced around the now-deserted stadium underbelly. A smile crept to her lips. Two years ago, she'd have sooner taken the Cruciatus Curse than go on a date -- or whatever this 'dinner' was -- with Marcus Flint.

And now, she was looking forward to it.

Go figure.

Hyacinth Girl: Marguerite Moreaueustacia_vye28 on December 20th, 2013 02:38 am (UTC)
Aw, I the slow progression of their friendship, how Marcus' story unfolded and Katie was able to help. Great job!
Leighleigh_adams on December 26th, 2013 04:44 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! They were fun to write, and I'm glad you enjoyed it!
It's better to fly and it's better to diegelsey on January 5th, 2014 01:46 am (UTC)
I just had to comment, something I'm usually lazy about doing. This was a fabulous story. I loved it. The realistic progression, their characters, Lucy! It was very enjoyable, thank you so much!
Leigh: Beauxbatonsleigh_adams on January 17th, 2014 03:19 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm really glad you enjoyed it -- that it felt appropriately paced and the supporting characters added to that -- Lucy was one of my favorites. :D

mollywheezy: Gryffindor Womenmollywheezy on January 14th, 2014 10:43 pm (UTC)
I loved Katie's reasons for helping Marcus. You had excellent backstory for both of them. I hated the way Lee behaved, but think it rang very true to how he might have reacted. I melted when Alicia showed up at the trial to support Katie--such an awesome friendship moment! Lucy is absolutely adorable, and I loved her and loved the sweet, hopeful ending! Such a wonderful story! Even though I'm late I'm glad I finally had a chance to read it! :)
Leigh: Gryffindor kittyleigh_adams on January 17th, 2014 03:21 am (UTC)
Thank you, Molly!

I really struggled with Lee's reaction to Katie's attempts to help Marcus, but in the end, I think he was acting out of grief, and that sorta pushed him over the top. That's also whhy we never see Angelina -- she's always been Fred's soulmate in my head canon; she'd have been taking it even worse than Lee.

I also adore Lucy. She was such a present force in my head while I was writing.

Thank you so much for reading! I'm really glad you liked it!