Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Relationships: Katie Bell/Marcus Flint
Series: Part 5 of Happy Christmas Collection
Summary: Post War. Marcus finds a way to help Katie deal with the invisible scars the war has left on her.
Written for mini_fest 2016
It was always around this time of year the gravity of the war hit Katie. Not on the official day itself, or the Anniversary festivities that usually followed that day. No, it was always this time of year, Christmas time. A time dedicated to spending with your loved ones, be it by blood or friendship, as the world turned dark and frozen. It was the celebration of light in the darkness, and perhaps that was why it always hit her so hard. Because for some, their world would always stay dark.
The memories took over during those few short weeks when the night lasted longer than the day. Memories from her past, the good and bad, of a time when the war had turned her world upside down and had made her grow up much faster than she had been ready for. Even when the worst of it all lasted a relatively short time, the effects lingered for much longer. By the time she learnt to appreciate the light again, it was December once again, bringing her down from her newly reached high.
During those days, she remembered family and friends who had perished before seeing the war end. She felt the agony and utter despair they had left in their wake all over again. It always hit her hard to know that whilst families gathered to celebrate life and love in peace, those who had fallen rested alone and cold in the frigid ground.
That’s when the melancholy sneaked in, slowly but steadily dimming her light until it killed all the joy she might have felt until nothing but desolation and grief remained. The two, maybe even the third Yule celebrations after the war had been the worst. Katie had lacked the strength to fight the consuming darkness. It had been easier to wallow in her sorrow than to concentrate on the good in her life.
And one day, at her lowest point, he had re-entered her life, her Marcus. The boy who had pulled her hair and hadn't thought twice about kicking her off her broom had turned into the man who held her hand and pulled her up when she was about the drown. Even though the war had burdened him with his own demons to fight, he became her strength, her rock. He had refused to leave her side in the beginning, even when she'd tried her best to push him away just to prove that he, too, would leave her given the chance.
He had proved her wrong.
He was always ready to hold her, keep her safe from the ghosts that haunted her in the dark, and never hesitated to wipe away tears of sadness and grieve for those she missed. Whereas her closest family and friends began telling her to get over it already and just be happy, he never pushed because he understood that for some, ‘just be happy’ wasn’t as easy as turning on a switch.
He never questioned or got upset over her feelings and emotions, no matter how irrational they seemed at times. At her worst, he held her closer and whispered in her ear that she wasn’t alone anymore. He taught her how to breathe when the air felt heavy with sorrow.
Still, despite Marcus' best efforts, his reassuring whispers and big arms failed sometimes. The first time it had happened, he'd taken her the hand in a moment of despair and had led her into their snow-covered garden. The bright sunlight dancing on the white surface had hurt her eyes, made her feel for guilty for being alive to see and enjoy it. She would've bolted back inside if Marcus hadn't been holding her hand, refusing to let go.
"Make snow angels with me," he'd told her instead. Years later, as they repeated their Christmas Day ritual of making snow angels with their children, Katie would profusely deny that saying 'no' had crossed her mind that morning.
All that mattered, however, was that she said 'yes'.
That day, they'd made angels for the very first time, one for each of their losses. They'd named and talked about them. That day, something as simple as commemorating her lost loved ones with someone who understood her pain and in return, listening to Marcus talk fondly about his father and the friends he'd lost had given Katie the push back towards the light.
Much later, as he'd led her back inside to warm up, the big smile on her face and his big hand wrapped around hers looked as if they'd always been there. And as he'd handed her a steaming mug of hot cocoa, she knew that he had done it again.
He had chased away her darkness and helped happiness sneak back into her heart.