idea_of_sarcasm: (save a broom)
idea_of_sarcasm ([personal profile] idea_of_sarcasm) wrote2008-06-22 03:30 pm

Fanfic: Unequal and Opposite. Katie/Marcus. *R*

Title: Unequal and Opposite
Author: [livejournal.com profile] idea_of_sarcasm
Rating: R
Pairing(s): Katie Bell/Marcus Flint
Summary: Sometimes what one thinks is good for them, isn't really – and what seems like a bad idea, isn't actually.
Disclaimer: I'm not JK Rowling, nor anybody associated with the production and ownership of her work.
Warning(s): None, except language and mild sexual content.
Author's Notes: Written for [livejournal.com profile] purelush in the inaugural [livejournal.com profile] hp_rarities exchange. At her request, it is based on generalities of canon from the RP [livejournal.com profile] road_ahead, but I attempted to write it so you need no familiarity with the game to enjoy the piece :) A bit of a departure from my usual Katie.




Kissing the bloke under the mistletoe is a mistake.

Katie's not even sure who it is – she thinks he was a few years ahead of her at Hogwarts. Of course with the way the eggnog has warmed her insides he might have attended Durmstrang. It's not wrong in essence, she's single, and she's fairly sure he is. The mistletoe is charmed to bleep in embarrassing fashion if those under it don't oblige in at least intimacy on the cheek, so that is another reason for it to occur. And the Christmas party is one of those nights. It is hard enough to be in the Three Broomsticks as it is, especially when she can see fucking Draco Malfoy slithering into the back, and she could swear the dress Madam Rosmerta has on is a replica of the one from that day. It's hard too because she's there alone.

Oh, not alone exactly. She dragged Charlie along – who's become a good friend these days, and she spent a good ten minutes laughing with Dean. Roger gave her a hug when he came over to talk to her and Angelina, and Alicia and Oliver are off snogging in a corner somewhere, though she knows they'll resurface eventually. But she's alone alone, which is a little bit harder to take.

Not that she hasn't been that way before, hasn't been that way often, but this year it's a little harder to take. Since there's somebody she doesn't want to be apart from.

The boy's lips are insistent on hers, drugging her with sensation as they slide across a few times before deepening it, making it into something more than fulfilling the magical requirement. Katie doesn't protest, fisting a hand in his jumper to pull him closer, knowing this was why she'd put on her lowest cut top to go with her black skintight pants. Her claim the red was appropriate for the season didn't even fool Angelina who'd given her a knowing glance. She'd dressed like this to get noticed like this, and maybe inspire a little jealousy. It feels good as his hands slide over her hips, up along her sides and down, before setting at the small of her back. It all feels so damn good, but it doesn't feel right.

She pushes back with a regretful smile, feeling somehow cheap inside. This isn't quite using her body like a weapon, but it's close. It's using it to try and make herself feel better, but it isn't working entirely.

Terry's across the room, and though he gives her a quick glance, he looks away just as fast. Katie rather hopes it's because it hurts him to look at this scene, but she doubts it.

Her heart's the one that's not doing too well. His was just a little bruised.

"Come on Bell," Charlie slides his hand into hers as she's headed towards the bar, thinking a good shot of firewhiskey wouldn't be amiss. "Let's dance."

There isn't exactly a lot of room at the pub for dancing, but there are a few couples doing it. Of course the strains of "Santa Got Run Over by a Hippogryff" and "Silent Centaurs" aren't the most appropriate backdrop music, but nobody really seems to care. They're all high on life and for the most part alcohol, and everybody is having a good time. "You don't like to dance," she points out, though the thought is appealing.

"No," he acknowledges, "but you look like your best friend just died, and you do. If it was the quality of that bloke's snog I'd do you one better myself, but I think this is the safer option."

"Bucking up on your confidence with women then, are you Weasley?" Her heart isn't quite in the jab.

"You're not a proper woman Katie," Charlie says with a laugh, knowing how much that will goad her, "besides, easy enough to make the offer when I know it will be rejected, yeah?"

She can't help but smile as he draws her in among the other groups dancing around them, even if it's a little half-hearted. Thank Merlin for the distraction of him as a friend – Quidditch and work and trying to get those NEWTS she missed the first time around, and even planning this party. It's so bloody female of her to be so upset over losing Terry, but it was her bloody stupid female mistake that caused their end anyway. She can wrap it up in all the things they never talked about and the secrets she kept to seem a little less crazy, but that wasn't the reason. It was stupid, her keeping things bottled up, but it wasn't the reason. It was that ring she tried to give him, that sign of commitment. She could have spilled her bloody guts and he still would have been freaked out by it.

A slow song picks up on the wireless, which is fortunate enough because Charlie's apparently got two left feet. She might wish it was somebody else's chest under her head, but it's comforting to stand like this, swaying with his arms around her.

What she doesn't expect is the voice behind her, asking if he can cut in.

It's obvious Charlie doesn't think it's the most fantastic idea with the way he's eyeing Terry, but when she doesn't say anything he nods and steps away, looking at her for a moment before slipping away into the crowd. She and Terry look at each other rather than dancing immediately, neither making the first move, until she summons that famed Gryffindor courage and slides into his arms. She keeps a space that she didn't keep with Charlie, but that doesn't mean that she can't still smell that combination that was so bloody him, and it doesn't mean she doesn't want to move closer. But she forces both hands and hips to stay where they are, and bites back against a sigh.

"Nice party, good job and idea on getting this set up," he comments, like it's the most natural thing in the world.

Katie shrugs, "I didn't do all that much."

Polite conversation, she hates it, and she hates it even more when he makes the moves she's been trying not to make. His hips arch a little, and all of a sudden their midriffs brush - once, twice, three times until she's resting against him and his hands are at the small of her back pulling her closer towards him, breath soft in her hair. "This is so stupid," she murmurs, even though her face his against his neck and she's making no move to pull away. "I thought we weren't going to do this."

"Be friends?" Terry says softly, even though his fingers are dancing around the waist of her slacks now.

It's hard to be the strong one, but again she pushes away, because she can't stand fucking around like this. She can't stop wanting more, and knowing she's not going to get it makes this impossible to take. This isn't like dancing with Charlie. It's not like swaying with Oliver would be. Dancing with him is screwing with her when she's managed to forget a good lot of it and try to get past it in the name of 'friendship' and her own piece of mind. "This isn't friendship," her mouth is dry as she bumps into another dancer who gives her a dirty look. It's a fucking tease is what it is. Like the Weird Sisters concert when they'd danced and it had disconcerted her hadn't proved it to both of them.

For a moment it looks like he's going to say something, but bites his tongue on it, only offering, "You're right, I'm sorry."

She's really the bird in this relationship or lack thereof – her sex made it that way, but her attitude is making it even more so. But when it comes to him she can't help it. She reverts back to the girl who giggled over Cedric Diggory in the locker room, the girl who thought the moon rose and shone in Oliver Wood's arse, the girl who left England when it really mattered instead of staying and fighting. In his arms and in others because of them, she's spent more time in tears than she cares to imagine. "Why?" Even her demands now sound more plaintive than angry, and she should be annoyed because he knows how she feels underneath, and knows what he did was just playing with her.

"I wanted to dance," he says petulantly, like he's the wronged party somehow.

"I don't buy that," Katie's actually glad when her voice comes out stronger this time, but it's easier because she knows that to be the truth. "I told you, Charlie and I are friends and…"

"I know that." Terry snaps back, and then cuts himself off, running his hand through his hair in frustration and pacing around for a moment before turning back, "It's not him all right? It's that stupid bloke who was kissing you under the mistletoe. I just…I don't know Katie, don't know what the bloody hell I'm doing over here. I saw that, and I….fuck!" He doesn't swear much, if ever, and she doesn't know quite what to do in response. What he's saying should comfort her somehow, but jealousy doesn't change anything. It doesn't change her, and it doesn't change them. She really kinda wishes it did, but even if most of what she offered to him after their breakup about needing to get herself together is shite, there's a certain part of it that's true. Besides, jealousy doesn't equal love. She's jealous seeing Oliver and Alicia snog, but that's just because it emphasizes the loneliness.

If this had been a few weeks ago, she would have tried to comfort him, offer explanations, but she's too tired of it all to try. "You don't have the right to care if I snog all of Britain," she says wearily. There's no vehemence in it because she's not angry, it's just a simple statement of fact.

"Don't be a prat enough to toy with me," Katie offers over her shoulder before the turns to go. "Just….let's accept that friends for us means butterbeer with a group, yeah?"


***************************



Time spent with her punching bag for the next week is cathartic, but not enough.

A Quidditch training session is Oliver is a start, and it was good for the soul, but not the release she needs.

If she tells him what she's after, he won't understand. It will turn into more tears and crying on somebody else's shoulder. She's not going to let herself do that anymore. No good for her, and no good for them. She's better than that. Stronger than that. It's been long enough now the statute on breakup angst has run out anyway. It doesn't mean she's not still upset about things, but she needs an outlet in a different way. It's less sadness and more anger – at herself, and at Terry.

It's what gets her on Quidditch Pitch at Hogwarts Wednesday morning when she thinks Marcus Flint will be there.

With her new training partner, and the fancy new gym Wayne Hopkins fashioned for her, Katie didn't think she'd be back here again after she'd given up practicing with Marcus. But damned if she doesn't miss Flint in an odd little way, and as much as she loves Oliver, he's not a chaser. He's good for target practice, but not for coaching because he's never played the position. It's not that which brings her back to Marcus though. It's because she needs the brutishly physical practice, and needs some good old fashioned antagonism to lift her spirits. He can provide both of those in spades, and certainly won't offer a shoulder to cry on. When she gets there he's flying lazy circles around the pitch. Katie knows he can see her, but he keeps flying on, and she puts on her gear while she waits for him to stop being an arse and take the bait.

It's not long before he comes flying back down to her, stopping on a knut in front. "Knew you'd come crawling back Bell," his very words are a smirk, "Wood couldn't find his dick with his own two hands let alone handle a broom properly."

With a roll of her eyes, she only replies, "Shut it Flint. This is a one off." She doesn't offer him any explanation other than that, because he doesn't really need it.

He raises his eyebrows, "Rather thought you didn't like my particular brand of training."

"I don't," she shoots back, "but I need an arse right now to let off some steam with, and you fit the bill."

What she really doesn't want to do is talk. Sparring with him can be entertaining, but she hates the fact that he's sometimes a little bit too close to life's truths for her taste when they did discuss something more than her arm strength. He probably has forgotten the entirety of their last real training session, but it stuck with her, coming to the forefront now with everything that's happened in the last few months. Not the Quidditch, the rest. It might have been said in a completely insulting tone, but there were underlying messages there she wishes her subconscious would just listen to sometimes - the importance of believing in herself, backing her own opinion. How she really has no self-esteem at times.

"Race you to the end of the pitch," Katie says as she swings her leg over her broom, waiting until he remounts as well so he can't use any head start excuse.

It might not be training, but the adrenaline of the race is a good start.


***************************



A ton of drills later – a ton of laps later, Flint isn't pulling any punches, just like she asked him not too.

She doesn't even really care that he's taking a little bit too much pleasure in knocking bludgers at her as she tries to get as many Quaffles in the goal as she can in ten minutes with a charmed pad acting as a half-arsed keeper. But the drill was her suggestion, half the time he's too damn content to sit on the sidelines and yell things at her. But she needs this right now, a challenge to beat, and the pain those missiles bring when they connect. It's a bigger exert, and it's enough to make her feel something more. A bludger connects and she winces in pain, but doesn't drop the Quaffle she currently holds. "Keep your fucking shoulder down!" Flint yells, and she wants to tell him to stuff it, but bites her tongue.

It's a hollow victory when she scores, but already she's going for the next Quaffle to continue the drill.

It's when she tries to get fancy, attempting a Lurgen dive, that he manages to get one that connects with the back of her head. It hurts like a bitch, and this time she cries out, but keeps flying because this was what she asked for. Once the next goal is scored she takes a moment to slide her hand over the area the object grazed, and thinks she can feel a little blood, but determinedly ignores it – going for her next Quaffle. She thinks she can hear a little bit of alarm in Marcus' voice when he calls out, "You want to...?"

"No!" She calls back determinedly, because he was going to ask her if she wants to stop, and she wants to do anything but.

The rest of the drill goes rather better, her evasion better when she's concentrating more on Quidditch and flying than boys and their ineptitude. But with ten seconds left one last bludger brings her down – through no fault of her own, it's a lucky shot – running smack dab into the side of her cheek. It hurts, oh Merlin but it hurts, and she might have started to cry except all of a sudden she's laughing in the face of the pain. It sounds like she's honestly amused, a belly deep laugh that bubbles up inside her at the fact she just got knocked in the head and she might have a few bloody broken bones. It dulls the pain for a moment, as much as it scares her.

"You're fucking nutters Bell," Marcus says bluntly, once they land on the ground. "What the fuck was up with you today? If I knew you were into masochism I would have brought my handcuffs and whips."

She almost can't stop laughing, biting back the hysterical giggles because she seems to be scaring even him. "Just working through some shit Flint, just working through some shit. Besides, I wouldn't want to deprive you of the opportunity of having Adrian Pucey chain you up tonight."

"Hilarious," his tone is dry, "just fucking hilarious."

It's cold, she's noticing that now as the adrenaline is wearing off and the exertion is done – that and the pain radiating throughout her body, her cheek especially. The snow has seemingly picked up, but she makes no motion to cover herself, or attend to her injuries. It's almost amusing, even if Marcus's gesture is more practical than nurturing, when he transfigures some of the snow on the ground into ice and puts it in a t-shirt to shove at her. Something she should do herself, and assess things a little bit better, if she could be arsed to care. But with a shrug she takes it and puts it against her cheek for a moment, since her skill with healing spells won't be enough to limit the bruise later.

"Still wallowing in emotional angst?" He asks in condescending amusement.

For a moment she thinks he's heard about Terry and is mocking her for it, but realizes exactly what they talked about last time. Not trusting herself, Draco, nightmares and martyrdom - on her comment about better her death then Dumbledore's . Funny how she's talked more with Flint, such as it was, then she has with Terry, even with his lovely bedside manner. Katie shrugs, because she is, just over different shite. But when she remembers a suggestion he made last time for cathartic purposes, a half smile comes across her face. "Might not have throttled Malfoy, but I did attack him." She hasn't seen Flint since that night at the bonfire when she had the altercation with Draco, almost losing her internship at the Ministry. "Had to be pulled off by Gawain Robards no less."

She's making it sound like more than it was, even if the basics are in essence true, but there's no denying she likes the grudging respect that comes over his face. "Never thought you had it in you Bell," Marcus crosses his arm, "in fact I still don't. But beats whining and moaning over my Quidditch pitch."

Listening to him, it's actually a little bit easier to get past what she did. To feel less haunted by it. It's not that she's turning into somebody like him, who doesn't care, but it's not unforgivable like she thought at times it was. It had been a long time in coming an altercation between her and Draco, and she sort of wishes she'd got a few good jabs in before she'd been pulled off. Now that would have been proper catharsis.

"Still shagging everything that moves and getting pissed on a regular basis?" She shoots back, since she doesn't want to talk about the rest anymore.

Marcus shrugs, "Of course not. I only fuck attractive birds."

Katie really can't help but laugh at his casual arrogance. "Still can't believe you've found any that will sleep with you."

"It's call Quidditch star Bell," he smirks, "bona fide Quidditch star. I'd say you might find out for yourself one day, finally get a proper shag for once in your life, but you've resorted to Wood's tutelage. It's going to be another long dry spell."

Mention of her love life causes her smile to falter a bit, but it's easier to forget about Terry when she's sparring with Flint. "At least you're not casting aspersions on my talent again."

"That goes unsaid," she can never claim he doesn't have some semblance of wit, "but I could turn a house elf into a proper Quidditch player if I worked with them for a year."

It's impossible to hold back a roll of her eyes, "Oh, shove off Flint, it's amazing you can fly properly with that ego weighing you down."

It's kind of odd how much she likes herself better when she's around Marcus. He might drive her nutters, and he might have an ego that could rival Oliver's any day, he might swear like a sailor and be more selfish than anybody she's ever known, but oddly enough it brings out her. He doesn't have to lecture her on self-confidence, because she has it – at least most of the time. She doesn't dissemble in front of him, she doesn't cry. She's got the metaphorical set of balls that she rather likes. It's not just because they're all about Quidditch, because that can bring out the best in her too – she and Oliver are mostly about Quidditch. But even there she's back to a simpering mess. It kind of makes her sad how fucked up that seems too – put her with a nice bloke and she turns into this weak little girl. Put her with a complete arse and she can learn how to be a self-confident woman.

"You're eying me like I'm a goddamn steak," he complains, and her trance is broken, "I'd add you to the multitude that have graced my bed, but I draw the line at skinny little bints who portray all the worst traits of Gryffindor."

"Not with a ten foot pole," she retorts, tossing the ice aside and picking up her broom before he can get another shot in, "come on, let's play a game of C-E-N-T-A-U-R before anybody else decides to come out." She knows he likes the game where you have to mimic another's technique or get assigned a letter, brings out his naturally competitive side.

It is tempting for a moment to think about Marcus in terms of more. Teeth aside he's got a nice arse, and he's damn good at Quidditch. Not that the latter should be a selling point for a relationship, but it's a damn fine incentive. Besides, a casual fling would be nice right now. Something to get her mind off Terry. It's just that she's not sure she actually likes Marcus. Even if he would be capable of keeping it casual between them and not read more into the situation. Funny that she should be worrying about somebody else thinking about making a relationship a little bit more. Of course suggesting it to him would turn into him mocking her, and nobody's arse is fine enough to make up for that.

When Katie actually starts to pay attention to him rather than the idea of him, she sees that he's smirking. She's utterly confused until he says, "See Bell? Self-confidence. Bloody brilliant isn't it?" He's got a point, like she had been reflecting on before. There's a line between it and the outright arrogance he's got, but it's a positive attribute. Of course Marcus has to go ruin the moment, by adding, "Makes you more attractive to the opposite sex even. Still wouldn't shag you if you paid me, but it's a step up from a date with Wood which was the only level of quality you were capable of before."

That's enough to certainly put her off the idea of propositioning him at all. "You've got the scenario mixed up Flint, it's the birds you have to pay normally."

As far as a comeback goes, it's a little lame, but he only rolls his eyes. He kicks off to start the game, but pauses for a moment, hovering in the air. "So am I going to have to expect your skinny arse back here again this week? Or do you still maintain you really don't want to be good at this whole Quidditch thing?"

It's almost an invitation, a willing one at that, and she can't help but be amused. Still, she opens her mouth to tell him she's training with Oliver now, despite the aberration that was today, but the words don't quite come. When it comes to her game, he's better at getting her prepared than Oliver. And what can she say, there's some enjoyment in being around him too. "Yeah, even if it takes a few shots of firewhiskey after training to stomach the experience, I'll be back here bright and early tomorrow morning. Make sure your arse is out of bed in time Flint, cause I'm going to fly circles around you on the pitch."


***************************



She's sitting at a table in the Three Broomsticks a few weeks later, trying to tell herself it's just a bloody pub, when Marcus comes in.

She gives a half-hearted wave, though she rather thinks he's going to ignore her and go over to the bar, but he makes his way over with little hesitation. He slides into a chair across from her, and Katie raises her eyebrows. "Want to wait for an invitation maybe?" There's no real animosity in her retort, and he knows it, snorting as he reaches over and grabs some of her chips – waving down a waitress and ordering a pint to match the one she's currently drinking.

"It was just so pathetic watching you sitting here alone," he smirks.

"Beats your company," Katie laughs, "those two hours this morning were more than enough."

Since she's started training with him again, it's been more of an every day type thing. Oliver was a little perturbed, but she fed his ego a little bit, talking about monopolizing his time too, until he wasn't hurt she was back with Flint over him. They're up at the break of dawn – except the days when he's had a little too much of everything to excess the night before, then it's just her, but those days are rare. He might eschew hard work, but if there's one thing he won't live without, it's his life as a Quidditch star when the league starts back up again. Of course his spot is pretty much guaranteed, it's hers that's up in the air. But she's starting to feel like it just might happen, that even if tryouts were held tomorrow she could get the life she wanted. That bollocks about Quidditch being 'all she's good at' is just that, bollocks, but it's the only thing she actually loves enough to want to do.

"Well my walking in instilled that look of fear upon your face, so I'm doing something right," he snorts.

For a moment she's confused, then she gets it, the lovely uncomfortable feeling she gets every time she's in the pub. Memories of the curse, the necklace, the pain, the aftermath. Everything she lost, and everything she almost lost, and how stupid she was to let it happen. She thought she was a little bit better at hiding it now, but either she's simply not, or Marcus knows her facial expressions a little bit better than she thinks. It might be a bit flattering to think the latter, but she's never been that good an actress. It will take actually getting past the bad memories to make her not look like she's ready to bolt from a table every time she sits down. She still can't go to the bloody loo though, not that she'll ever admit to that part.

"Bad memories," is all she says with a shrug.

She really doesn't think he honestly remembers anything she tells him, but with his next words, it's obvious he does. "I can't decide what to mock more Bell. Either the fact that you let a fucking pub ruin your life, or the fact you're so sadistic you keep coming back to it even when you know it's going to make you miserable. That whips and chains bit wasn't too far off now was it?"

"Wanker," Katie shoots back, transfiguring her napkin into a rock and throwing it at him.

He deflects it like she rather thought he would. "On a regular basis," Marcus smirks, "not that I actually need the self stimulation." Apparently he deflects the insult as well.

Somehow his retorts have become less cutting, and more amusing, over their time together, but either way Katie can't help but snort and shake her head at his response, even though she knows half the time he means for her to blush and stammer for his own amusement when he can get as crude as humanly possible. But she's taught him not to underestimate her there, the same way she's taught him not to underestimate her on the pitch. Perhaps a disadvantage if she ever properly plays against him one day that's not in a meaningless 'friendly', but it's not exactly the time to be coy when she's trying to improve. She's given herself a deadline – a month to be as good as him, at least as much as their difference strengths allow, but she's not told him of that because it's a meaningless personal thing.

"Christmas?" She asks him, since they haven't had a proper conversation since the holidays, only the rigor of training.

"Fine," his answer is as brief as her question, cutting off all idea of chatting about that. He doesn't return the favour, so apparently all casual conversation is out.

They sit in silence for awhile, even as the barmaid brings his drink and she finishes hers, along with her chips. If she's honest, it's a rather companionable silence, sitting here with him. They've talked, interspersed with Quidditch, but don't waste time with meaningless chit chat. Works just as well for her, because she doesn't much like filling the silence anyway when there's little to say. If either of them had anything meaningful to say about their holidays they'd say it. Still, when the moments stretch on, she can't help but chide, "If I'd known you were going to be such scintillating company I would have tried a disillusionment charm when you walked in."

"Bell?" He waits until she looks at him, then offers, "Shut the fuck up."

Whatever she is going to say is lost in the moment because Terry's just walked in with Michael Corner and a few other of his mates, bringing the chill with them as they laughingly shake off the snow with the door closing behind them. She noticed him right away, her unfortunate vantage point, but it takes him a few moments before he notices her sitting there with Marcus. He obviously hesitates, but sending the boys off to find a table without him, making his way over to the table where they're sitting.

"Hey Katie," he offers quietly, ignoring Marcus which is just fine because for a moment she is too.

"Terry," she says with a small smile, "it's good to see you." And don't they sound like idiots.

"Did you want to come over and join us?" Terry asks, motioning towards where he and his friends are going to sit down. "You and your…uh…friend." It's apparent he's got some idea who Marcus is, because it's not jealousy that's lighting up his face. "It's been awhile." Since the Christmas party he meant, where they sort of screwed up the whole friendship thing they'd been trying to maintain beforehand.

"Too long," she says, because she's going to make the effort to make this work. After all, him in her life is what she wants, isn't it? She's not fickle enough in her feelings to think what she felt for him before meant nothing. There's still nothing too appealing in going to sit over with him and his friends – feeling like they're snickering at her behind her back for what happened with her and Terry, feeling like she's being judged, and them all thinking that she's some love-sick puppy. Even though before they sort of had cause to think that way. That self-confidence thing has dissolved again, and she feels like a mess, stupid though it is. "Not today though, yeah? I'm not long for the pub. But it's…it's good to see you, really good to see you." And now she does sound desperate, fuck.

Apparently Marcus' swearing habit is wearing off on her.

"I should have owled, wished you a Merry Christmas, or stopped by," Katie adds, before she can bite her tongue, knowing it keeps getting worse. "But I wasn't sure…"

It's sort of odd, but she hasn't really thought about Terry much in the last few weeks. Oh, lingering thoughts here and there – a nostalgic moment when she found an old shirt of his, but that pain is gone. But being around him again is a kind of pull, it's so easy to remember exactly how he was capable of making her feel. If she's being realistic, it's just that he was the first, not that he was the only, but that doesn't make the memories any less strong. Maybe it's the 'what if's too. Even if she isn't pining over him hours on end, that's still an unanswered question. What could have happened between them if circumstances had been a little bit different, if she had been a little bit different? It's not that it haunts her at night, but she thinks of it now.

This time it's him who's not giving up though. "How about Monday?" Terry presses. "Tea at the Hog's head? Just the…two of us?" It's like he's trying to stress it's not the 'butterbeer with friends' she offered as a mandate.

"Sure," she agrees quickly, before really thinking about it. But if this is it - if he's serious and not just toying with her? Why wouldn't she say yes? "I'd love to, Ter."

He looks like he wants to say more, but takes off with a look and nod at Marcus.

Katie can't help but feel a bit confused as she watches him go. It's funny that she seems to be getting what she wants, except this time it's him making the move not even her, but it doesn't feel quite right. She'd almost feel better if she was guaranteed whatever meeting they are going to have will be platonic, just friends, and that's what confuses her. There's a lingering attraction, there's memories, but she's not sure how much more there is. In terms of the 'more' anyway, she knows she still likes him. But she's pulled from thinking too much on it by Marcus' comment.

"What the fuck was that?" He asks with a shake of his head.

"What do you mean?" She asks. It's not like Marcus doesn't know Terry is her ex, it has come up before, fortunately with no tears or recriminations on her part.

Marcus shakes his head, looking a little disgusted. "You, with him. First off, that's a fucking boy Bell, what were you thinking in the first place?"

In essence that's what Terry himself admitted, too young for anything serious. But she doesn't think a 'man' would see it much differently. She could just imagine giving a ring to Marcus and how he would react. "As opposed to….what exactly?"

He doesn't really explain, but his comment does make her start to see parallels. How young Terry does seem in comparison to…well, Marcus at times. Not like that matters though, at least not that it should. Her maturity hasn't exactly been off the charts, and chronologically there isn't much difference. "Everybody seems young to you since you went to school with them for two more years than you should," Katie shoots back, annoyed, throwing the years he was held back at school in his face. She knows it's not the point though.

"Simpering idiot," Marcus shakes his head, and she knows he's not talking about Terry.

"It's called affection," Katie retorts. "People occasionally have it for one another."

Of course they are 'ex's, but Marcus doesn't focus on that anyway. "It's called you would have wiped his arse for him if he asked. Pathetic Bell, simply fucking pathetic."

The metaphor is a little crude, and the little voice in the back of her head it telling her it's a little true, but what she says instead is, "Oh, shut it Flint. You have no idea what you're talking about."

Oddly enough, this is the first time she's felt judged with Marcus, and she doesn't much like it. He's accepting of everything else – it sounds odd, but it's true. Except when she gets self-deprecating, but then he pretty much just kicks her arse right out of it. Of course those moments are few and far between now. She really doesn't like how much that bugs her, how much his opinion oddly matters, splattered with profanities though it is. But she's got no defense, and refuses to feel guilty over it anyway. A good relationship isn't swearing at and insulting each other, no matter how little burn there is behind the words – it's what she had with Terry.


***************************




"Relax," Dean is laughing at her, she knows he's laughing at her even if his lips and his eyes betray nothing, "you're going to do fine."

Katie doesn't know why she agreed to this – letting him paint her for his collection. Oh, it might be symbolic, and about life, and all that shite, but right now she doesn't really care. She was self conscious enough about the sketch he did of her flying, let alone his attempt to get her dancing. She loves dancing, really she does – but it's one thing to do it in a club with other people around you, casual, or in your flat by yourself. It's another to do it in front of a friend wanting to paint you, to capture you for all to see. If she's really honest she normally does it in her knickers and bra when she is alone, but that certainly that isn't going to happen for anybody but her mirror. She can't even really convince herself to let go in comfortable attire he insist she wear to make it seem more natural.

"I don't think I can," she mutters, but gets up and flips on the music.

Looking at Dean she really doesn't think she can – and Merlin isn't she glad the flatmates are gone for the day – but it's her favourite song, and as she turns to face the wall it's a little bit easier to forget he's there. Her hips start to move and she closes her eyes, mouthing along the words she knows by heart. It's easier to go from there, easier to let the sound fill her. This is the only time she feels truly uninhibited, moving to music. She loves Quidditch, but it has set plays, rules and regulations. Things she can do, things she can't. A dance like a waltz, or a quadrille, all those limiting things she never bothered to learn. When she's dancing like this, it's all about her. It's all about not thinking, just doing. Enjoyment and freedom. Others might think her nutters if she tried to explain, but she can't help but love it. Half the time it probably looks horrible, but she's not worried right then about looking sexy or elegant, she's just going where the music takes her.

By the time the song changes, she's more into it, she's even singing along now with eyes wide open, winking at Dean as she turns. He's got a bemused look upon his face, but his quill is dancing across the canvas to sketch out what she knows he'll fill in with colour later.

It's almost an hour later, and she's sweaty from the exertion but feeling exhilarated when Dean finally puts his supplies away. "You got everything you need?" Katie asks, hands resting on her hips, almost looking for an excuse to dance for a little bit longer.

"Think so," he says, though he purposefully keeps the canvas tilted from her eyes so she can't see the project before it's done. Her fingers itch to reach out and touch, to see how he saw her, how he captured her. What somebody else sees in those uninhibited moments, and what he's going to let everybody else see, because it's not like these are going to stay isolated in his studio. Ah well, if she looks like a complete idiot she'll ask him nicely to keep that one private, or let her pose with her kitty Fife or something – Dean's not a bad sort, he won't embarrass her.

Katie lets him out, closing the door behind him, before going back to her room. She has some studying she should do, but doesn't much feel like it. Grinning, justifying it to herself as exercise, she shimmies out of the clothes she wore for Dean to leave herself standing there in nothing but bra and knickers.

She flips on the music again. This time there is no hesitation in getting started, she's into the beat as soon as she can hear it. It's a fast song at first, one they would play at a club, but she doesn't bother with the pretense that she's at one. After all that would be limiting wouldn't it? Bodies pressing in, limiting her motion, having to dance for someone rather than for herself. Blokes trying to pick her up, unwelcome hands on her arse that she has to take care of. This time she knows the undulation to the music isn't all that pretty – there's points in the song where she knows she's doing little more than hopping to the music with arms sprawling, but it's that feeling of freedom again. Because there's other moments where it is pretty, sexy even, but she's not paying attention to them either. She's not really thinking, she's just moving, enjoying getting lost in the moment. Katie closes her eyes for a moment, humming to herself, shimmying her hips to the fast beat to finish off the song.

Smiling widely to herself, she turns around, and only a gasp escapes when she realizes she's not alone.

Marcus stands in the door of her bedroom – just looking. She remembers too late that she had invited him over this afternoon for a proper workout in her new gym, since pushups on the pitch is less entertaining than releasing aggression on her punching bag. He's not saying anything, and that stops her from saying anything either. That and the look upon his face. It's a naked look of want - Katie doesn't know how she knows that, she just does. And it's caught between them, the desire in that, and she doesn't want to break the spell. She just looks at him, breathing heavily, knowing she should make some excuse, make a joke, and grab some proper clothes – but in that moment she does nothing.

And then the music starts again, and she does something.

Even though she doesn't quite know it's the right thing.

It's a slower song, the kind made for seduction, like it's some fucking sign. Any other time she wouldn't have thought twice about it when it came on, but this time it's different. This time she equates the mellow beat with sensuality, with sex. This time she equates it with the look that's flared up in Marcus' eyes, that she likes being there. This time she equates it with the arousal that's uncurling in her belly, the way her breath is catching in her chest and they haven't even done anything. This time she doesn't think of it as just a song, and she thinks of dancing as more of a metaphor than simply an act. It makes it all sound like a conscious decision, but it's not. It's just her feeling something as she starts to move to the music. It's not even deliberately for him, she's not even looking at him, but she's perfectly aware of Marcus with every movement of her body.

These movements are slower, smoother, but no more inhibited.

Katie closes her eyes, though it's a monumental effort, concentrating on what she's doing. Somehow she knows what she looks like, knows what he sees, and she accentuates it. Her hands come into the picture, sliding over her body as she dances – and she knows she's teasing now. They brush over the curve of her breast that is uncovered by the bra. Her fingers slide into the waistband of her knickers, as if she's going to slide them down, before moving her hands back up instead – tossing a look his way before moving to the music again.

This time when the song ends Katie flips off the music. And then she's standing there, not knowing what to do next. Breathing heavily, she just looks at Marcus, who's still just leaning against the doorframe. He hasn't moved since the moment she started to dance, nor has he said anything. This is just…what is this?

But then she's not thinking because he's moved faster than she thought him capable of. His hands are on her hips, digging in, and he backs her into the wall. When her back hits the hard surface she gasps, because she's got nowhere to go even if she wanted to, and he's got her arms above her head – pinned there with his hands running over them. Katie's sure he's going to kiss her, waits for it, and is arching her much too scantily clad hips towards him, but he's muttering something rather than putting his lips to better use – even if he's making no bones about pressing hard against her.

"' 's how you should be," her arms are free now as his hands slide down her sides. "So fucking confident."

If she's thinking about anything except how much she wants him, she might focus more on what he is saying; like he cares about her self perception, her actions. That it's not just about the physical arousal of seeing her dancing in her underwear. But she's not, she's too busy fumbling with the buckle of his belt trying to get his pants off. All she's thinking about is that she wants him right then. It might mean a little bit more for her too, but she's not allowing herself to focus on that. Too serious, and she's not going to do too serious anymore. Not until somebody else says it first.

"Fucking gorgeous," it's the only compliment she's ever gotten from him in this respect, even the Quidditch ones are few and far between, and she revels in it even as her bra slips to the floor.

She could back out, but she's finally got his pants down around his ankles and all speech is cut off because his mouth fuses to hers – and she doesn't want to. She's happy kissing him back, hands fisted in his hair trying to pull him closer to her. She's not even thinking about comparisons to her last sexual encounter because this is not Terry, all sweet and fumbling, this is something one hell of a lot different. She's doing nothing but grinning as he bites a little too hard, moaning when a hand slides down the front of her knickers, and reveling in the look of feminine satisfaction on her face when she's coaxing him to full arousal – just enjoying it so much that she doesn't care about anything else.

When they tumble to the floor and he slows it down though, Katie does start thinking.

And she wonders if that's his intent.

"You want to get me simpering for you?" She murmurs as his lips slide down her body.

"Fuck no," he murmurs, his mouth only a centimeter or two from it's intended target, and she can feel the warmth of his breath against her center. "But I bet I can get you screaming."

"Bet you can't," she murmurs, knowing he'll take it like the challenge it is.

She's not exactly disappointed when he wins.


***************************



It's in the aftermath – the two of them entangled in each other on the floor of her bedroom that it gets a little more complicated.

Not because of anything either of them is saying, in fact they're not saying a lot. They've already gone at it twice, and it's been brilliant. Best sex of her life, and she fucked around with a Frenchman. Marcus dozed off after being kind enough to get her off one last time with his hands alone. For her part, she's wide awake, even half sprawled across his body for comfort from the hard floor. It's odd how satisfied she is, not just physically. There's no recriminations, no regrets. She's wanted him, though this accelerated the process a little, and made her decide something for herself.

In some respects it's about the worst thing she could have decided on, getting entangled with him. It's hard in this morning after because she really doesn't know what 'this' between the two of them is, and she's trying not to care. There's something there, for him too, but this still might be a one-off. But the one thing she's realizing is that if it goes somewhere beyond one-time great sex on her bedroom floor, is that it's going to turn into the one thing she swore she wasn't going to do again. This is Marcus bloody Flint – no matter where she is emotionally or otherwise, she's going to be leap-years ahead of him. Of course she doesn't think she'll scare him off easily, but reciprocation isn't something that will happen easily either – if ever.

Not her brightest move.

But the rest outweighs it. Besides, maybe in the end she won't want more either herself, even if they both decide it will go past this.

As she dozes off to sleep beside him though, she's composing an owl in her head to Terry, telling him that tea alone might not be the best idea.





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