Words: 10641 words, 4 chapters
Summary: Christmas Day starts with a bang when Marcus goes on a wild goose chase to find Katie Bell after a very confusing Floo-call.
“You ought to see a Healer for that in the morning,” Malcolm Johnson said to Marcus as he shoved his wand into the pocket of his dressing gown. He slumped into his lazy chair by the fireplace, studying his unwanted guest. He had just half-heartedly healed the boy's nose, and even though he had no pity for trespassers and the awful things that tended to happen to them, he had to admit that it didn't look all too good.
Marcus shook his head as he wiped the last of the blood off his nose and upper lip. His eyes flitted between Mr Johnson by the fireplace and the door. He was sure that the girls stood around the corner. He could hear them whisper. It was that, or Montague had stricken him that he'd started to hear things that weren't there, like his Great-Aunt Betty.
As his eye fell on Mr Johnson again, he cleared his throat and quietly said, “S'okay, Mum will take care of it when I get home. Wouldn’t be the first time.”
In the other corner of the living room, Graham Montague mockingly mimicked his words, and added for good measure, “Mummy's boy.”
“I don't believe I gave you permission to talk.” Malcolm Johnson looked over his shoulder, unimpressed. “No worries, though, you're next, young man. You made my girl cry again. You must have forgotten what I told you the last time that happened because only an utter dunce would wilfully repeat his mistakes."
“No, no, I didn't, sir. She made me cry,” Graham said hastily, taking a step forward. “She broke up with me. For my best friend apparently.”
“Tell that someone who'll believe you,” Mr Johnson dismissed and waved his hand about, indicating that Montague ought to return to his corner. As he turned to Marcus, he quietly asked him, “Is he right? Are you here for my Angie?”
“No, of course not,” Marcus said quickly, shaking his head. Montague muttered something unintelligible in response and Mr Johnson ordered him to keep his gob shut. “Not Angelina. I, uh, wanted to see Katie. My girlfriend.”
Malcolm scowled as he folded his arms. “At this time of night? What is so important that you couldn't've waited until the morning?”
“Yeah, sorry 'bout that, but if I may...” It didn't take too long for Marcus to explain what had transpired since waking up at four in the morning, Katie fire-calling, which led to a midnight visit with the Spinnets and their rabid Kneazle and then Apparating to London, breaking Angelina's window and having his nose broken in return.
“Crying, you say? The only one I heard crying all night was my Angie.” Malcolm briefly glanced over his shoulder, pointedly glaring at Montague. The younger man pressed himself against the wall, gulping hard. Satisfied with himself for having the ability to put fear into the boy with a mere glance, Malcolm turned to Marcus, grinning and winking before he yelled, “Angie, get in here!”
Despite the throbbing pain in his nose, Marcus smiled widely when the whispers on the other side of the door grew louder. See, he didn't imagine things after all.
A clearly fake thundering down the stairs later, the door slowly creaked open, and Angelina's head popped around the corner. Malcolm's stoic features thawed at the sight of her. Behind him, Montague had a similar reaction. He puffed out his chest as soon as he saw Angelina, a hope etched on his face as he held up his hand in a small wave. She curled her nose up at him, huffing and puffing and doing her best to make sure he knew that she was ignoring him.
"You-you called, Daddy?" she said. Behind her, Alicia and Katie were craning their necks to see what was going on.
Marcus' lips curled up into a toothy grin when he finally caught his girlfriend's eye, the pain of his broken and subsequently badly healed nose forgotten. He hadn't realised that he had got up and was already halfway across the room until Mr Johnson loudly cleared his throat to get his attention and pointed at the sofa in a silent order to get his arse back there.
“Angie?” the older man asked when Marcus begrudgingly returned to his seat.
“I know you and your friends were listening in.” Malcolm merely sighed when Angelina pretended to be shocked by the accusation. “You're a horrible liar, darling. So, tell me, was our little Katie sobbing or not?”
“Little my arse, wrinkly old warlock,” the girl in question cursed quietly from the door opening, much to Marcus' amusement. He knew he liked for a reason.
Angelina scowled at Katie, who pulled a face and shrugged in defiance. “No, sobbing. Not that I've seen. Besides, my room doesn't have a Floo-connection because you won’t allow it, remember? And I don't think she's come down here since she arrived last night. Have you?”
Katie vehemently shook her head, her eyes still on Marcus. Next to her, Alicia too busy yawning to confirm or deny what her two friends were saying.
“Well, there's your answer,” Malcolm concluded as he stood up, clapping his hands. “Thank you, love, take your friends back to your room. It looks like you need your sleep,” he said. As soon as the words left his lips, Alicia disappeared up the stairs, and the two young men in the room jumped up.
“I'd like to talk to-” both stated at the same time and stopped, glaring at each other.
Malcolm cast a glance at the old clock above the mantle and let out a throaty growl, rubbing his face in frustration. Six in the morning, almost time to get up and start the day. He mumbled something about sleepless nights and killing hormonal wizards in exchange for a good night of rest.
“Angie?” he grumbled.
“Five minutes to hear him out won't hurt, I guess,” was his daughter's eager answer.
“Gods, I thought you’d never ask.” Katie excitedly held her hand out to Marcus, who didn't waste time stalking over to her. “We'll take the kitchen. Thanks! Bye!”
And as they hurried into the dark hallway, both pretended to be okay with the five minutes Mr Johnson gave them.
The kitchen was cold and messy and the wooden chair Katie had made him sit in was far too uncomfortable for his bruised body. But having his girl here, fussing over him made up for a good chunk of the bad luck he had experienced over the last few hours.
Marcus' smile hadn't faltered since he'd laid eyes on her. He watched her every move as she searched for clean flannels and healing potions in the cupboard. The scent of soap and minty mouthwash filled his nostrils when she came to stand between his legs (when did she have time to wash up?), making it that much more difficult to keep his hands to himself. He's much rather put them on her bum or under her shirt.
“That bloody bastard got you good, and here I spent most of the night convincing Angie to give him another chance,” Katie grumbled as she cleaned the last smudges of blood from Marcus' face and healed the more superficial scratches. “Maybe I should take you to a Healer to have them take a look at your nose. It’s all crooked and swollen.”
“Hmm, s'nothing, I don't feel a thing,” Marcus lied as he leant into her hand, his eyes closed. She had the softest touch. He couldn't get enough of it. “I'm just glad that you’re alright.”
Katie stopped what she was doing, frowning down at him. “So, I heard you tell Mr Johnson...but I don't understand. Why wouldn't I be alright?”
“You Floo-called me, sobbing your eyes out.” Marcus pulled back, he had hoped that she'd be more honest with him now that they were alone. But as he studied her, he began to doubt his memory. The longer he thought about it, he had to conclude that the Katie who had fire-called had looked a bit different than the girl before him, older almost and with shorter hair, which was a ridiculous notion; Katie would never cut her hair.
“I'm sure it was you,” he concluded after explaining once again what had woken him up and how he ended up in London.
It had been Katie, hadn't it?
“No, sorry, love, it wasn’t me,” she said with a laugh, shaking her head. She picked up where she had left off and continued cleaning his face. “You know what, I think your friends must have played a prank on you. Sounds like something Adrian and Terence would do, don't you think?”
“Yeah, that's probably it,” Marcus agreed half-heartedly, chuckling stiffly.
Pucey wouldn't know what a prank was even if you hit him in the face with one, and Higgs was too busy with running the family business that he barely had time to eat or sleep, let alone have time to play jokes on his friends.
Maybe, it had been a dream after all? Yeah, that had to be it. To be honest, it hurt his head to figure what else it could have been.
“All done,” Katie declared as she tossed the flannel in the sink. With her hands on her hips, she took a step back and studied him intently. Satisfied with what she was seeing, she said, “You can go home now.”
Of all the things he had hoped she'd say after the night he had... That would not do. He needed consolation, a hug, a kiss or two or three to make him feel better.
“Oh, what if I don't want to?” Marcus pulled her back when she tried to walk away. As he had hoped, she fell into his lap; right where he wanted her to be. Hearing her giggle was a far better sound to listen to than her sobs, he concluded, even if they'd been imaginary.
“Happy Christmas,” he whispered as he nuzzled her hair. “Mum said to bring you back for breakfast.”
“She did, huh? But we're already having lunch and dinner together.” Katie made herself comfortable, her head in the crook of his neck, her hand over his heart and drumming her fingers to the rhythm of his heartbeat. “That'd be nice. I like your mum.”
Marcus hugged her closer, afraid of what she would or wouldn't say when he asked, “What about me? Do you like me too?”
“What’s not to like? I don't care what my friends say, trolls are cuddly.” She laughed softly and reached up, her fingers combed through his hair, forcing him to meet her halfway for a deep kiss. And as she let go of his mouth and settled her head back into the crook of his neck, she quietly said, “But if you must know, I like you, a lot. And I love you, too.”
Marcus let out the breath he hadn't know he was holding in. It almost sounded like 'finally'. Relief washed over him as the worry he had carried around for a while now fell off his shoulders. Katie not only liked him but actually loved him. That alone made the strange night he had more than worth it, Kneazle attacks and broken noses and all.
He abruptly stood and lifted Katie over his shoulder, fully intending to take her back home with him and sneak her into his room for a few moments alone before his mum caught on. He ignored Katie’s shrieks and laughter as she hit his back with her fists. As he tossed a pinch of Floo-powder into the fireplace, he said,
“Good, because I intend to stick to you like Spello-Tape, Bell. It'll take a miracle to get rid of me.”