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22 March 2011 @ 12:15 pm
Fanfiction: How to Save A Life  
Title: How to Save a Life
Author: snarkysweetness
Recipient's LJ name: purelush
Pairing(s): Main: Katie/Percy, Katie/Oliver; Side: Percy/Penelope, Percy/Audrey, George/Alicia, with some Fred & George bits thrown in, and the other Weasleys along with a few other Canon Characters
Rating: R
Summary: The war affected everyone in different ways. For Katie and Percy, their relationships with other people have suffered due to their grief over losing Fred and watching George slowly self-destruct. Can these two broken individuals somehow find comfort in one another, even for a few stolen moments?
Word Count: 8,323
Warnings/Content: Angst, sex (obviously), and graphic references to the war
Disclaimer: While I would love to see JK Rowling explore other people in her world, I don’t see it happening anytime soon, so I write fanfic for the enjoyment of it. I assure you no money is being made off of this.
Author's notes: I’ve been intrigued by the idea of Katie/Percy, but I haven’t yet read them or had a chance to write them, so this was an interesting experiment for me. I hope they are both to your liking. I kept things as close to canon as I could, except for the George pairing because I have an aversion to the canon one. It’s sort of an epic character study and I know you enjoy a lot of plot, so I really hope that you enjoy it. Also, mad props to my awesome buddy for making sure I didn’t overlook any editing things on this thing, you rock.

Originally written for wizard_love here.

Oliver’s calloused fingers tugged on her hair as he ran then through her dark locks, pulling her head back, exposing her neck before his lips found the skin just above her clavicle. Katie let out an involuntary gasp as her fingers struggled with the buttons of his shirt. They were both in a hurry, as if they didn’t have much time, when in truth, they had as much time as anyone else. People were dying every day around them and there was no guarantee for tomorrow, so they spent every possible moment they could pressed against one another, sweaty, and needy.

Katie wished Oliver had been like this back when they were in school. Passionate about something other than winning. Passionate about her. Then they would have had years together, instead of a few short months. The fear of Voldemort turning on the Half-Bloods next was always in the back of her mind, but it didn’t stop her from showing her support for Harry, even if it did put her in even more danger.

Every week they were forced to be on the move, hiding somewhere new, but they’d somehow found themselves back in England, for Potter Watch of all things.

Fred and George owed her for this.

Then again, they had managed to secure a safe location for the two of them to hide out, so perhaps she owed them.

“We have to hurry, they’ll be back soon,” Oliver whispered, pulling her closer.

“Shut up, will you? No one told you to wear a shirt with so many damn buttons on it.” And tiny ones too. Her fingers were slipping more than they were able to get them through the slots.

Oliver lifted her chin and kissed her. “Who says we need to be completely naked for this?”

Katie’s cheeks flushed. She hadn’t thought of that and now the idea turned her on.

“I don’t know mate, I rather like the idea of seeing her arse, myself.”

Pulling her skirt down, Katie’s gaze landed on Fred, a dangerous, wild look to her. “Fred Weasley! What are you...get out!” She was going to murder him.

Fred chuckled. “Can’t do, it’s my house, love. Oy, George! Stay down there, will you? Katie’s missing her knickers!”

“I am...” Katie stopped, realizing she was indeed without knickers and looked down, snatching them out of Oliver’s pocket. “I hate you both,” she seethed, hitting Oliver in the chest because he was now having a hard time keeping his laughter in control.

Slamming the door to the loo, she could hear George enter the room and rolled her eyes.

Perverts. All three of them.

Slipping on her knickers, Katie felt something warm in her pocket. As if it was on fire.

“Owww!”

Digging around, she stopped when she felt the warmth of a large galleon. Confused, she pulled it out, recognizing the old galleon used for the DA meetings. On the face of it, there was a message:


SOS.

Death Eathers.

Battle.

Hogwarts.

Please Help.

Katie looked up into the mirror and her face fell. Was it all ending now? Tonight?

The boys were quiet in the other room.

Reaching for her wand, Katie used it to pull back her hair, ready to stop hiding. She took a deep breath before emerging from the loo, crossing her arms.

“So, who’s ready for a fight?”

The twins looked at one another and grinned.

“Fred, I do say we round up the other Weasley’s, what do you say?”

“I say we send Katie and Oliver here to round up some more of our old friends and we all meet back at the castle to kick some Death Eater ass. Oliver?”

“I say ‘what they hell are we waiting for’?”

Katie smiled. It was on.


And it had been on. Over a hundred dead on both sides, including their Fred.

Fred, who had been her best friend since she was eleven years old. Who had taught her how to hit a Bludger and how to kiss. Fred, who, along with George, kept everyone smiling, even when nothing seemed like it would ever be right again. Fred, who made the sun shine. Ever since that day it hadn’t shone the same.

Katie would go back and give up her own life if it meant that Fred could be here now, in her place. So many things were wrong now that he was gone. Oliver, so consumed by his grief for that entire day, had run off to America, needing to escape everyone that reminded him of the war, including Katie. Angelina, who had been in love with Fred for years, couldn’t get out of bed for an entire month, and even now, had to excuse herself from the room to cry anytime someone mentioned his name. Alicia turned to Seers in the hopes of getting in contact with him just one more time. And the Weasley family, doing their best to move on, could not hide that there was something missing from all of them.

Katie lived each day missing him, working to forget the images of that battle that still haunted her, and doing her best to keep his memory alive in living her own life, each day, one step at a time, and not letting the war being the one thing that would define her entire existence. In surviving, Katie hoped to make sure his death was not in vain. All of those people hadn’t died so everyone they had loved could go on living a half-life. Every day was a struggle, but Katie tried.

Unlike George, who had been the most affected by Fred’s death. They were one person. It was as if half of George was gone. At first, he’d tried to use humor to cope, but slowly, over time, the darkness behind his eyes caught up to the rest of him. Alicia had taken it upon herself to be his caretaker and along with Molly Weasley, they made sure he ate and got out of bed in the morning. They all hoped that with the birth of Bill’s first child, something in George would snap out of his depression and it had, a little. Some light returned to him when the little blond-haired child was in the room. He’d even invented a few new gags for the shop.

One day at a time. He would move on someday, just like the rest of them. And then his friends could breathe a sigh of relief. Katie’s guilt for surviving was worse around George. Not because of what he’d lost, but because she felt as though she’d moved on too fast, like not being as unable to make it through the day as George did was somehow a disrespect to Fred’s memory. A silly thought, of course, but she couldn’t help but think it.

Someday, she’d have her old George back. Or at least, as close as she could get to him. Maybe then the hole that Oliver and Fred had left in her heart would be smaller. She missed his friendship and laughter more than she missed the feeling of being loved by someone. She’d find love again when she was ready, but what she wanted more than anything was to see George laugh again. Maybe then they would both be able to remember Fred and smile, instead of feeling empty inside.

“Miss Bell, your thoughts?”

Katie found herself sucked back into reality. When had she gone so far into her own thoughts that she’d completely ignored her meeting?

“On?”

“The War Memorial piece? The two year anniversary is soon. You’re the only one of our journalists that participated at the battle. Are you comfortable reliving that day for the article?”

Katie nodded, ignoring the glare of Rita Skeeter in the corner. “It’s not a problem, Glenda. I’ll have it to you first thing Monday.”

“Good. And try to get an interview with Potter, will you? He refuses the rest of us and you’re old friends, perhaps he’ll agree to one with you.”

Katie shook her head. “We’ve been over this. I,” she glanced at Rita, “respect the Potter’s need for privacy. They need time. When Harry is ready, he’ll talk. For now, let him enjoy newlywed life, will you?” Her Editor gave her a disapproving look, but let it go. As long as no one else got an interview with Harry, she couldn’t be too upset.

“Are we done here? I have somewhere to be.”

Katie looked around the room, taking Glenda’s nod as a ‘yes’ and gathered her things quickly. Muttering a hurried goodbye, Katie practically ran out of the building. The cold London air hit her with force as she stepped out of the doors and she sighed in relief, feeling free.

Tossing her things into a messenger bag, she made her way through the Alley with a purpose.

Dropping her bag, Katie hopped onto a stool. “Double Scotch on the rocks, Hannah. And have another one ready when I’m done, will you?” She ran her hands over her face, trying to fight off the incoming images of Fred’s face, still smiling, even in death. It should have been comforting, but it was a frightening, morbid image. One that she needed to get out of her head now.

The blond behind the counter gave her a sympathetic look. “Here, take the entire bottle. But let me know before you leave. Tom or I will make sure you get back to your flat.”

“Thanks Hannah.” Katie’s eyes moved down to where Hannah was placing down a glass. A modest ring with a small diamond rested on her left hand. “Did Neville...”

Hannah blushed. “Yes. Finally. I was beginning to think...oh, I mean, it’s silly, but I was beginning to think he’d find someone else before he got around to it.” She shrugged.

Katie gave her a small, but genuine smile. “Congratulations. Give that Hero of yours my regards.” Neville Longbottom. War Hero and Auror Superstar. No one in Gryffindor House ever saw that one coming, but it went to show you how wrong people could be.

Watching Hannah leave to serve another customer, Katie’s heart ached. That should be her, finding love after everything they’d been through, but in true Bell fashion, she’d lost it, just when she needed it most. Oliver was a coward who’d left her to deal with everything on her own and the only other man Katie could imagine herself with was dead and his brother was a poor replacement. Even if she could bring herself to do such a thing.

She tossed back her drink and poured another.

It was going to be a long night.

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

“Penelope, please, don’t do this.”

He was trying to fight for her, he really was, but he couldn’t bring himself to find the energy to do more than sit there and beg, half-heartedly. Their relationship had always been a strange one. They’d bonded over their mutual desire to make something of themselves. When Percy had said to hell with the Ministry, she hadn’t taken it well, but she’d stayed by his side as he dealt with his brother’s death, which hadn’t been easy. His guilt over his behavior towards his family during the last three years of his brother’s life haunted him to this day.

Every day was hard for him, but he tried. Something that wasn’t enough for Penelope it seemed.

“No. I’m through with you, Percy!”

Her face was red, her eyes hard. She’d wanted to do this for a while, but only now was she finally willing to go through with it. “I get it, okay. The war was hard, but it’s been two fucking years! Snap out of it.” She pushed his shoulder, trying to gauge some sort of reaction out of him, but when he continued to sit there, just staring, she grabbed her last bag, heading for the door.

She spoke one last time; her voice was cold and composed. “You’re not even a man anymore. You’re a pathetic little boy who can’t move on and do something with yourself. I’ve put up with it because I loved you, but you know what, I don’t love you. I loved the Percy who had aspirations, who wanted to make this world a better place. I haven’t loved you in years. How can I? When all you do is go through the motions, like a zombie. We can’t even make love without you crying half way through. I’m sorry, I really am, but I can’t keep taking care of you anymore. I’m done.”

Penelope threw one last look in his direction, not even hoping he would go after her. He wished that he could say he would, even if she had, but Percy would be lying to himself. He watched her go without another word or protest, knowing that she would be far better off without him. He was grateful that she’d put up with him for as long as she had, but he couldn’t blame her for leaving. He deserved no less.

Closing his eyes, Percy let his head rest against the cold stone of the wall behind him.

“Fred, I’m sorry.”

His guilt for being a prat aside, he blamed himself for Fred’s death. If they hadn’t all been distracted by Percy’s big return, they would have noticed the explosion coming in Fred’s direction. His behavior had led to his brother’s death. He could never forgive himself. He ignored his family as best he could, not able to meet any of their eyes, especially his mother’s or George’s. Being around Victoire should be a blessing, but every time he looked into his niece’s face, all he could think was that Fred wasn’t there to teach her how to laugh.

He was a pitiful excuse for a man. Penny had been right about that.

All he wanted now was to find his mother, curl up with his head on her lap, and give into his sadness. But he didn’t deserve that comfort, so he did the only thing any man would do; he made his way to the pub.

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

“Should a tiny little thing like you be putting so much away?”

Katie glanced up and gave George a hard glare. “I’m half-Scottish, I can handle it.”

George kissed the top of her head and gave her a half-hug. “Hannah, if she finishes that entire bottle, you make sure to send for me at the shop? This woman is not to leave this pub unless she is accompanied by a Weasley. The last thing we need is some bloke taking advantage of her.”

Katie rolled her eyes. As if she wasn’t perfectly capable of knowing full well when she was being taken advantage of. “Ignore him; the white knight act doesn’t suit him well.”

George gave her a pained look and Katie instantly regretted the sharp tone her voice had taken. “Just be careful, will you?” He stopped, wanting to say something, but he didn’t. But Katie knew he was going to say something about how she loved to indulge in the drink a bit too much for his liking. As much as she appreciated the sentiment, she was a big girl and she could honestly take care of herself.

“I’ll be fine, George. I know you worry, but trust me; I’ll make it home just fine. Do you want a drink?”

He shook his head. “No can do. I found some old plans Fred and I had for the shop. Lee and I are going to work on starting a new line to get business booming again.” He smiled, but it wasn’t the smile she was used to him having with Fred around.

“Good, I think everyone will love that.” Katie gave him a genuine smile. “Tell Lee I said ‘hello’ won’t you? And that if he doesn’t return an owl or two I will begin to think he’s not madly in love with me anymore and we all know how sad that would make me.” She gave him a mock pout.

George opened his mouth to reply to her, but his eyes focused behind her. She glanced back to see Percy standing by the bar awkwardly. Oh, this would be pleasant.

“George. I um...hello.”

George’s mouth twitched for a moment, but he responded pleasantly. “Perce. Having a drink tonight without the ball and chain? Good, keep Katie here company for me. A pretty girl like her shouldn’t be alone. It would be a waste of her beauty. “

Katie couldn’t help the blush that rose to her cheeks.

“Oh, right, sure. No problem, Miss Bell, I’d love to.”

Good lord, these two could win an award for the most depressed person in the room.

“Lovely! Katie, good night.” George kissed her hand before patting his brother on the back. “Perce, I expect to see you at Sunday dinner, or I will hunt you down. Good evening.”

Katie watched George as he left the pub, partly because he was her friend and partly because all Weasley men had adorable bums.

Once the view was gone, she glanced to where Percy now sat at the stool next to her. What the hell were they going to talk about? She’d had maybe one conversation with him in her entire life. He was the Black Sheep Weasley who no one ever interacted with because he’d always been kind of an asshole.

“Scotch?” She offered, being unable to think of anything else.

Before Katie knew it they were both trashed and Percy was talking more than she could ever imagine him speaking about anything other than kissing the Minister’s arse.

“Since that day, Ron has been deathly afraid of spiders.” He took another drink and Katie chuckled into her own.

“Okay...poor Ron, but I mean, come on! That’s classic Fred! The man was a genius.”

Percy nodded as his smile faded. “Yes, though, don’t you think it was a bit cruel of him?”

She shrugged. “Not really. He was a little kid; it’s not as if he knew any better at the time. Had he done this at sixteen, perhaps.” She polished off her drink and eyed the now empty bottle. “So, tell me Percy, what really brings you here tonight? You don’t strike me as the pub type.”

He fidgeted uncomfortably before pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose.

“Oh...no reason...”

“Girl trouble, eh?”

Percy turned a deeper shade of red than his hair. “Am I that easy to read?”

“No. I’m that good at knowing people. So, I’m assuming you don’t want to talk about it?”

“No. Not at all. I just...it’s not worth it. I’m happy, really. She’ll be happier without me-”

“Bringing her down with your bullshit? You do realize you and George are both unwilling to move on with your lives and you would benefit from actually communicating with each other, right?” Every single Weasley saw it; Katie didn’t need to be here with a drunken Percy to know Fred’s death was harder on him than most of the others. She’d attended at least one or two dinners in which Molly Weasley had burst into tears over how worried she was about him. That poor woman had it hard enough without her son making it worse. At least George showed up at home. Katie didn’t like the idea of making Percy feel bad, but she had enough alcohol in her system to call him on his bullshit.

“At the very least you could stop being selfish and talk to your mother about it. It isn’t as if we don’t all miss Fred too, you know? I miss him every day and he wasn’t my brother or my son.”

Percy blinked at her, not used to being spoken to in that way. She wagered the last person to be so harsh with him had been Fred himself.

“I know everyone...but you don’t’...it was my fault!”

A few bargoers glanced oddly in their direction.

Katie took his arm. “Come on, you need some air.” She threw down money for their drinks and waved in Tom’s direction, before leading Percy out to the alley. Once they passed a few shops, she glanced at him.

“So, why is it your fault? The last time I checked, Rookwood caused explosion that killed Fred, not you.”

Percy turned to her, his face contorted in guilt. “But I was joking with him; he was too busy paying attention to me to pay attention to what was going on with the battle. I took him off his game and got him killed!”

That had to be the stupidest thing Katie had ever heard. And she’d grown up friends with Fred and George.

Placing a small hand on his shoulder, she tried to calm him down. “Percy...this is FRED we’re talking about. A grown man who knew how to multi-task. No one is to blame but the person who killed him. There was enough chaos going on, you distracting him was no more distraction than everything else that was going on. You did not cause his death, understand me? Voldemort and his fucking minions are the cause. Stop being a child and blaming yourself. If anyone else blamed you, they wouldn’t care so damn much about you, understood?”

She watched Percy, expecting him to do one of two things typical in Weasleys; get angry or begin making more excused. He did neither. Instead he shocked them both by doing the most unPercy-like thing he could do; he kissed her.

It wasn’t a particularly good kiss, but there was a neediness to it that made Katie feel nostalgic for the days when she actually felt wanted by someone. She hadn’t been kissed in ages and it felt nice to be this close to another person, even if it meant nothing more than physical contact. Katie was surprised to find herself disappointed when it ended.

Percy pulled away from her, his face red. She expected an apology, but he surprised her once again.

“Thank you.”

She didn’t have to ask why he was thanking her. She suspected up until now, no one had ever called him out on his bullshit.

“Come on, I left something at the office, you can help keep me safe,” she told him, finding herself being far too coy for her own liking. Smiling, she took his hand and led him toward The Prophet offices, neither of them speaking the entire way there. Katie had no idea what she planning to do, but she was going with whatever popped into her mind tonight; she saw something in Percy that reminded Katie of herself.

Leading him into her office, she made her way around her desk, opening a drawer as Percy looked around, intrigued. “So, this is where the lies that ruin lives happen?”

Katie smirked. “Good one, Percy. But you know I’m nothing like that wretched Skeeter woman. The lies you speak of happen in that gaudy office across the hall.” Katie pointed through her doorway towards Rita’s office, where the door was adorned with an ugly green color that left one not wanting to risk seeing what the interior looked like.

Her fingered emerged from her desk, a fag and a lighter in hand. She placed the death stick to her lips and lit it, taking a long drag before shoving the lighter back into its hiding place. “I hate these bloody things, but I sometimes find they help when I’ve been spending too much time thinking about the past.”

Percy approached her awkwardly, taking the cigarette from her fingers and using his wand to put it out. “I think there are better ways to ignore the past,” he whispered, lifting her chin before bringing his mouth down to hers for another kiss. This one was slightly better than the last and Katie felt some hope that tonight would not be a complete waste.

Her heart beat a little too fast as her mind reminded her that the last man to touch her was the only man she really wanted and if she died tomorrow it would be Percy, not Oliver, who was the last to mark her. But she ignored her brain. Oliver hadn’t bothered to stay and Percy was here now. And in the future, someday soon, it would be someone else, then another, until the memory of Oliver’s touch was gone from her skin and she could move on from that part of her life.

Percy was clumsy. Their noses banged against one another too many time. His glasses were smudged and crooked. Her desk was in disarray. Broken pieces of trinkets lay on the floor, alongside creased parchment and newspapers.

His attempt at foreplay included grunting as he finger banged her against her desk. His fingers stumbled around, making it impossible for Katie to even begin enjoying herself. She felt bad for him, she truly did, but her cheeks were red with embarrassment. In the back of her mind she could imagine Quidditch stands with George, Fred, and Lee, huddled together with a microphone, commentating on the action below in her office.

“And Weasley fumbles again. Someone really needs to teach him where to find the clitoris. Way to take one for the team, Bell!”

Although Fred was long dead, Katie could still hear his voice perfectly in her mind and though it was her own mind conjuring his presence, she still cursed the bastard in her mind.

Katie wanted to move this forward. She didn’t know what she had assumed this would be. A way to forget, maybe. A way to bond over their loss, definitely. But at the very least, she’d hoped it would be a good time. She knew one touch from her and he’d be over, but she was too nice to embarrass the poor boy. She wanted to leave him with some dignity, so she allowed him to continue doing his thing, not being nice enough to make any fake, dramatic porn noises. She refused to stoop that low.

She almost sighed in relief when Percy pushed down his trousers, but bit her tongue. Placing one hand on the solid wood of her desk, Katie used her free hand to pull him closer as one leg wrapped around his waist.

Percy seemed to be thinking hard to himself, because it took him a few moments with his eyes closed before he decided to close the deal. The moan that escaped her lips was not faked. What Percy lacked in skill he made up for in girth. She wondered if all Weasley’s were as well equipped. Wanting to make the most of it, she whispered instructions to him in between small sighs.

Her instructions seemed to help, after a few minutes, Percy found some sort of rhythm. The desk creaked as his balls smacked against her thighs and they both emitted moans every few seconds, filling the quiet room with a kind of song.

“Harder, Percy,” Katie whispered, pulling her body closer to his. She needed to come, to make this worth something. She needed this. She’d been hiding behind her grief for years. While physical pleasures couldn’t fix her emotional damages, the act of allowing herself those pleasures was a step in the right direction. Leaving unsatisfied would only make her feel worse about everything.

Of course, as is everything else in life you couldn’t always get your way.

Percy came far too quickly, leaving Katie feeling more annoyed than cheap. She’d made the choice to have sex with Percy; it was her own fault for it being awkward and bad. Next time she’d have to pick someone who wasn’t near tears from the contact.

Holy shit, he was crying.

Damn it, Katie. You broke him!

“And little brother, Percy closes the deal the way Malfoy’s mom does it!”


George’s voice this time.

“Shut up!”

Percy’s head shot up and Katie covered her mouth quickly. “Not you...I...turn around, will you?”

Katie quickly adjusted her clothing, while Percy slowly dressed himself, looking dead-eyed again.

She ran a hand over her face, cursing her over-active mind and her big mouth.

“Percy, I’m-”

“Thank you. I...I’m sorry...I just...I needed...I have to go.”

Without looking at her, he left the room and Katie fell back on her desk, making sure to bang the back of it once against the surface, to punish herself. It wasn’t until a few moments later that she realized he hadn’t kept his promise to walk her home.

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

Walking through the workshop, Katie admired the different, half-completed gadgets. Everything in the shop was still as brilliant as it had been when it still had two owners.

“So, about Percy...”

Katie’s head shot up, her cheeks going red as she attempted to appear normal.

“Did he...” George stopped himself, fighting with himself for a moment before giving up. “Never mind. It’s stupid. He’s a grown man, if he wants to be a wanker and ignore my mum, I don’t care. But...he didn’t get drunk and bear his soul to you or anything, did he?”

George looked her in the eyes, hoping to hear his brother was getting better and not to have ammo to use against him. Katie looked away quickly, finding that she couldn’t hold his gaze without feeling as though George could read her every thought. “No, but in my opinion, you should ease up on him. He didn’t seem too emotionally stable. He...he could use a therapist,” she admitted finally, knowing it was the truth.

After all, any man who cried after sex needed help.

“My mother may know of a few...” She offered, not wanting to recommend her mother to any of her friends. That would be far too much of an invasion of her personal life. She didn’t need her mother knowing the deep, dark secrets of all of her friends. That woman was enough of a menace without anything to use against her only daughter.

George gave her a long look, which Katie found to be uncomfortable. It was as if his eyes were peering into her soul, trying to figure out her secrets and seeing into her lies. Relief washed over her when he looked away.

“I think so. Penny left him, you know. Charlie ran into her on the street. He couldn’t even tell his own family, the sot.”

Katie bit her lip. She had known, but George didn’t need to know that.

“He’s a big boy, George. His personal life isn’t really anyone’s business. You’re all entitled to make your own mistakes in peace. He probably isn’t ready to have everyone digging into his personal business is all.” She gave him a shrug, glancing over her shoulder to catch him watching her in a way that made her stomach sink.

Somehow she knew that George knew something. She just wasn’t sure what. Not that it was his business what she did with her life. Katie just had no desire to ever have to relive the awkwardness of that night again.

“Why...why Fred?”

Katie bit her lip. Not this again. “George, I don’t know. It was his time, I guess.”

George pinched the bridge of his nose and took a deep breath. “Not...not that. Why did you...you and Fred...why not me?”

George looked up at her, a sad, lost look to his eyes.

Katie was caught off guard, but she had an answer before she can think it.

“Because he was there.” As soon as it came out, she realized how awful that sounded.

Katie closed the gap between them and took his hand. “What I mean is, I was a tomboy with a bad attitude. Boys didn’t pay attention to me, especially the ones I wanted to, but I never really minded because I loved Quidditch so much. However, after a few years, I realized everyone else was dating and snogging and sneaking off to shag when I hadn’t even been kissed.”

She smiled at the memory that came next.

“I was throwing rocks in the lake, angry-like, you know me. I was imagining hitting Roger Davies in his stupid face with one of them. I was crazy about him and then that...your sister-in-law got in the way. I was pissed. Fred...he thought every girl should at least be kissed at sixteen, so he kissed me. It never went anywhere, but it was nice to get out of the way. Fred was good like that. Didn’t want me to feel left out, I guess. I will admit, I would have preferred you, but you never noticed I was a girl.

If...if things had been different. If Oliver and I hadn’t...

Well, I think things could have turned out differently now. But...”

Katie shrugged, smiling. “It was a long time ago. Does it really matter now?”

George ruffled her hair and shrugged, a lop-sided smile on his face. “I guess I always thought people loved him more than me. It’s hard, feeling like the favorite twin died and everyone got stuck with me.”

“George, don’t. There is no favorite-anything, you’re both amazing in your own way. I promise,” she encouraged, kissing his cheek. “If I hear you talk like that again, I’ll break all ten of your fingers.”

He laughed.

“All right. No more crazy talk. I like my fingers just the way they are.”

“Good.” Katie kissed his forehead and pinched his cheeks in a motherly way. “I don’t want to exert that kind of effort. Do I take it I don’t have to worry about you harboring some deep romantic feelings for me? I doubt Alicia would appreciate that.”

George’s cheeks turned a visible shade of red.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Rolling her eyes, Katie scoffed. “Puh-lease! That girl has it bad for you. Alicia doesn’t take go around taking care of people the way she does you. She spends more time looking after you than your mother does. A girl doesn’t do that for just anyone.”

Pulling on his collar, George looked away. “I’m pretty sure she’s a little gay-”

“So am I. Hell, everyone’s a little gay.”

A twinkle rose in George’s eyes and for a moment, Katie was fifteen again, watching the twins sneak alcohol into the common room to start a party. The moment faded, but the look in George’s eyes that reminded her of the old George, the one before Fred had died, remained. A small flutter of hope rose in her chest.

Wrapping an arm around her, George pulled her close.

“Since we’re all a little gay, can I watch as you and Alicia explore that gayness?”

The seriousness of his hopefulness was too much for Katie and she burst into a fit of laughter, holding on to George for support. Tears came to her eyes and she gasped for breath, but she couldn’t help it; the absurdity of what it took to bring a man back to himself baffled her.

“Did I miss the comedy show?”

Alicia appeared in the doorway, looking like a ghost. She’d always been far too pale for her own good, oddly without the appearance of freckles like most gingers, which made her appear phantom-like most of the time.

“Katie just promised me a three-way with the two of you. Want to join?” George offered her his free arm.

Looking between them with an eyebrow raised, Alicia joined the two at George’s free side. He pulled her close, holding his two favorite non-Weasley ladies close.

“What do you ladies say?”

Alicia looked at him for a long moment before looking to Katie. Katie gave her a look that said she knew just what Alicia was thinking, holding back some of her earlier laughter. A moment later, they both burst into laughter, their faces turning red.

George let out a sigh. “Well damn it, there goes that plan.”

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

A lot could happen in a year. Not that it necessarily meant anything changed or significant happened. For Katie, things remained much the same; Work. Sleep. Booze. More work.

For others, things were more exciting.

Take George for instance. One could hardly tell he still held the loss of his brother close to his heart, because you never caught him without a smile on his face or a trick up his sleeve. Or Alicia, who was now living happily in sin above Weasley’s Wizard Wheeze’s with its jovial owner.

Rumor had it one Ron Weasley would be married soon. Neville Longbottom was off on his honeymoon. And one Oliver Wood was now standing on her doorstep.

Katie stared, unable to comprehend what had happened to bring upon such a surprise to her. Her life had gone on without the love of her life, what right did he have to show up as if the past three years had never happened? As if he hadn’t completely abandoned and crushed her when he decided he needed to ‘soul search’ or whatever the fuck he had been off doing in America.

Once the anger settled in, the door slammed in his face. She didn’t have the energy to bother with him. Not yet. No matter how long he stayed out there, waiting for her to change her mind.

She refused to make what he did okay by acknowledging his sudden reappearance.

Fred would say she was being too damn stubborn for her own good, but George thought she was justified in her anger.

George had always been her favorite.

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

Dinner with the Weasley’s. It was always a festive affair, to say the least. It had been far too long since Katie had been given the pleasure of enjoying the company of the entire family. A celebration was in order. For what, no one was sure, other than an excuse for everyone to get together. No solid reason was needed with this clan. As an only child, Katie appreciated the bustle of the small home.

“PERCY!”

Katie looked up from where she was perched on the counter. Molly rushed over to hug Percy and his lady friend. She was gorgeous. Blond hair, small frame. She could almost give Fleur a run for her money.

Percy looked in Katie’s direction and she raised her glass to him, giving him a small nod of approval in Audrey’s direction. Somehow, even with so much time having gone by, she’d thought seeing Percy again would be awkward. Apparently they had actually grown-up. Who knew?

“Do you think she knows you shagged my brother silly?”

“George!” Katie hissed, glaring at him. So, he had figured it out. She was surprised he’d never used it against her. Now she’d have to watch her back. “You shouldn’t make things up like that, it’s isn’t polite.”

She gave him a look that meant murder if he mentioned it again.

George laughed. “No worries, Katie. Your dirty, shameful little secret is safe with me. Excuse me, I’m missing a redhead.”

Glaring at his back, she resisted the urge to throw something at him. Her cheeks were red with embarrassment and she hoped no one noticed.

She caught Angelina giving her an odd look from where she sat chatting up Ginny. Katie shook her head, not wanting to go into it with her. Angie didn’t need to know the gory details. The girl was having a hard enough time. Trying to move on in the dating world while still being too close to you boyfriend’s family was hard enough without knowing the nasty things his family did behind closed doors with your best friend.

Katie really hoped the poor thing found someone soon. She deserved it.

She looked around again. It seemed everyone was here.

Near the fireplace, Charlie stood with Neville and Hannah, asking all about their honeymoon in Ireland, where they had apparently encountered some dragons, which was always an ace topic for him. Bill chased his daughter around the house. Ron and Hermione were arguing in hushed tones. George and Alicia were flirting on the couch. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley watched on as a very bubbly, energetic Ginny recounted a story from last week’s Quidditch game with the Harpies.

Looking more closely, Katie could swear Ginny was almost glowing. She wondered if Harry, who was watching his wife with a smile in his eyes, knew that he was going to be a father.

“She will be showing soon, don’t you think?”

Katie jumped a bit, before realizing it was just Percy.

“Yes. Well, a thin slip of a girl like her, it doesn’t take long. Do you think they know?”

Percy smiled. “With the look on Ginny’s face, I suspect she’s trying hard not to shout it from the rooftops. Five galleons says they announce it before the end of dinner.”

“I’d take that wager if I didn’t agree with you.”

She glanced over at him. He looked...better. “She’s pretty. Ministry gal?”

Percy nodded. “Yes, she works with dad in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Department. They’ve expanded recently. She’s...quite amazing. I have you to thank for her.”

Katie choked on her drink, spitting it back into her cup.

“Me? I have to hear your Percy-logic for this one.” It was odd, but it was almost as if...they were old friends now. When had that happened?

“Because you fixed me. Don’t look at me like that. You...snapped me out of it. I was being stupid and if you hadn’t called me out on my stupidity, I would never have gained the strength to forgive me and move on. And...well, after you I realized how terrible I was with the shagging and the crying...”

“You were.”

“Thank you, Captain Obvious. Can I finish?”

She hid a chuckle. This was the Percy from the battle. The one who actually had a sense of humor. She liked this Percy.

“Continue.”

“As I was saying. According to Audrey, I’m not terrible, so I suppose I have you to thank for that as well. So...thank you.”

She tried not to laugh, so she nodded. “Well, I’m happy to have been of service. First one’s free, next one will involve a blood sacrifice and your first born.”

“Deal.”

They both laughed.

Katie looked out at the room. “It’s weird, isn’t it? Everyone’s...happier. I never thought I’d see us all so normal again.”

“That’s not true, everyone isn’t happier. You, for instance.”

Katie took another drink of her beer. “I’m perfectly happy. I have no idea what you mean.”

“Katie, come on. Oliver is one of my best mates, we were dorm mates, I know it’s been weeks and you still refuse to give him the time of day. He made a mistake. He knows that. Just...give him a chance.”

So, he was here petitioning on Oliver’s behalf. She suddenly liked Percy less than she had a moment ago.

“He doesn’t deserve anything from me.”

Percy nodded. “I agree with that, BUT-hear me out-haven’t we all lost enough? Do you really want to stay mad at him just to stay mad? I’m not saying what he did was okay, but look at all of us, we were all a mess. He just...”

“Couldn’t hang so he left me to fend for myself?”

“And you came out of it all right!”

“It doesn’t mean I deserved it! Jesus, Percy, are you Team Oliver, or what?”

Percy sighed and took her hand. “Katie, in this entire house, you’re the only one still stuck. Yes, you’re not haunted anymore, but is holding on to this doing you any good? I’m not saying take him back, but remember, before you were ever lovers, you were friends. For the sake of the friendship, hear him out. I’m not saying marry the man, but do you really want to lose another friend? Life is too short for pettiness, Katie.”

Katie glared at him for a long moment. “When did you get so smart?”

He shrugged. “Mum’s the one who told me what to say.”

Katie groaned. “Oh God! Are you all going to team up against me on this? I knew your mother allowing booze at this thing was some way of buttering me up for something. I thought she had a secret son somewhere she wanted to marry me off to, not that you were all plotting against me.”

“I told them not to, but Oliver is bigger than I am. Big, dumb bloke. Hits hard. I’m not as tough as I was before.”

George appeared beside Percy, winking at the two of them, knowingly.

“Shut up. I’m going to find Angie, the sane person here. I assume Alicia is in on this insane pilgrimage of yours.”

“You’re delusional if you think you can ignore him much longer!” George called.

Katie flipped him the bird, which Molly caught. As Molly gave Katie a lecture on how proper girls behave, Angelina giggled into her fist, imagining the look Fred would have on his face if he were there.

“Fifty galleons says she takes him back by the end of the week.”

Percy eyed George for a moment. “One hundred says she’s more stubborn than she looks.”

George held out his hand and Percy shook it. “Deal.”

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

“A girl really doesn’t like coming home to strange men on her doorstep.”

Katie held out a cup of coffee to Oliver, who looked as though he’d been perched there all night, waiting for her to come home. Percy’s words had hung heavily on her mind all night. After leaving The Burrow and walking around London, she’d had some time to think and make a decision.

“I’m not taking you back. You will explain yourself. You will not apologize. There is no forgiving what you did to me. However...I’d be lying if I said I don’t still love you. So I’m giving you a choice; you work, hard, to make me trust you again. You don’t lie, you don’t avoid, you be a man, and you fix what you broke and then maybe we have a future. But if you hurt me again, Oliver, so help me-”

Oliver jumped to his feet and put a finger to her lips.

“I accept.”

Katie shook her head. “I mean it Oliver. You’re actually going to have to put effort into something that isn’t Quidditch. I’m not playing games.”

“I mean it. I-I’m not as strong as you are. I couldn’t-” He sighed. “I promise. I will make up for what I did. I won’t fail you again. I love you more than Quidditch any day.”

“Yeah, yeah, don’t go trying to be all romantic and shit.”

She held the door open for him.

“I have another condition: No sex. After tonight. You need some sort of punishment.”

“I can never have sex again if that’s what you-wait. Did you say ‘after tonight’?”

That was the other thing Katie had pondered; the last man she’d had sex with had been random stranger from the pub. If she died tomorrow, she at least wanted Oliver to be the last man to have touched her, even if he was a rat bastard who didn’t deserve her.

Plus, she kind of still loved him and hadn’t had any in months. Seeing everyone else coupled together tonight made her want it even more.

And she suspected the seriousness of her proposition to Oliver would weigh even more heavily once he got a taste of what he’d been missing out on. Katie could be manipulative in that way, all women could be.

Plus, Molly Weasley may have pulled her aside and made the suggestion. But she’d totally come up with it on her own.

Katie gave Oliver a shrug. “What can I say, a girl has needs. You coming or not?”

Like any man, Oliver didn’t need to be told twice. Pulling her close, Oliver kissed her and kicked the door shut behind him as he pushed her into the flat.

Things weren’t going to get better overnight. It was going to take months, maybe longer, before things were okay. Katie was going to break down and let him into her bed again before long, but in the end, everything would be as close to normal as they could get after everything they’d all been through.

And to think, one bad shag from Percy Weasley had somehow started them all on their crazy little journey of moving on.

 
 
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished