Edit 18-7 to give more background:
Chapter 12 as posted was actually the first version I wrote. However, the dune scene, where K and M have their 'talk' felt lacking somehow. So, juts to see if something else worked better, I cut Marcus' scene short and wrote what's posted under the cut. That felt even worse, so I went back to the original version.
Looking back, I guess I didn't know how to end the chapter in a way the original one ended. So, instead of fretting about it and write another version, I went with V1.
“Bastards,” Katie muttered as she cast another Cooling Charm on herself. The walk home from the beach was usually an unending one by foot, especially in the middle of the day on one of the hottest days of the year. But with how she’d felt when she left her friends, it was what she needed to overcome the worst of her anger. It helped to some degree, and by the time her home came into sight, she wasn’t as murderous as she had been when she left the beach.
Thankfully, Charlie had been a good sport about it, easing her embarrassment a bit. But it didn’t make it okay. Marcus must have seen it. That had to be the reason why he’d left before she got a chance to sit with him and his friends as they had agreed.
The closer she got to home, the louder her parents chatter with the Flints became. The smell of a recently lit up barbeque hung in the air, just as her father had promised it would be that morning. Marcus and his parents were supposed to join them for dinner to celebrate her new job.
Well, that seemed highly unlikely now.
Another round of tears stung her eyes. Mum and Sally would know that something had happened the minute she walked in. They'd force her to explain what and before you knew, they’d blame her for her degenerate friends' behaviour. Her parents would have to sell their shop and move away to Siberia with her because the shame was just too much to handle on her own.
Deciding that it’d be better to cry her heart out and calm down a bit before she went home to face the Spanish Inquisition, Katie swerved off the path into the woods. The last time she had been here, she’d split Marcus’ head in two. Come to think of it; she still had the rocks and pebbles she had collected that day displayed on her dresser.
Disappointingly enough, the distance between the path and the clearing wasn’t as far as she remembered it to be. Back then, when she was running for her life, it had felt like a lifetime. Now, though, it was nothing more than a few steps between the path and the clearing. In fact, the clearing itself wasn’t even a large as she remembered. The realisation made her even more upset than she already was, and disillusioned, she slid down a thick tree overlooking the yellowed grass to the ground.
Sniffling and feeling utterly sorry for herself, Katie pulled her legs up as she stared at the clearing. She told herself that if she’d squint hard enough that she could summon the happenings of that day to replay before her eyes. Sweet Circe, she could do with the distraction.
“You know, you almost killed me that day. I can't believe I forgot how much trouble you were.”
Startled by the deep voice, Katie hastily wiped the few tears -could have been sweat at as well- from her cheeks and bent over to see around the tree trunk. Maybe, she was suffering from sunstroke and was hallucinating as a result. That had to be the explanation for seeing Marcus on the other side. She pulled back, shook her head, and looked again. He was still there.
“What are you sobbing about?” not-hallucination Marcus asked worriedly. He scooted closer and nudged her as he asked, “Did something happen?”
“You left,” she mumbled, waiting for him to put his arm around her shoulders.
Marcus huffed as he narrowed his eyes in disbelief. “That makes you sob?”
“You didn’t say goodbye.” Miserable that he wouldn't touch her, Katie rested her forehead against her knees. “Why did you leave like that? And what are you doing here?”
“Would you believe if I said that I was waiting for you?” Marcus asked.
“No.” Miffed that she had to do all the work, Katie pulled his arm around her shoulders and huddled against his side.
“Then I won’t lie.” Marcus curled a wet strand of her hair around his finger. Katie could practically see him searching for words, and when he spoke up again, she wished he hadn’t. “I didn’t know you knew Charlie Weasley.”
The dam burst, the bells tolled to herald the end, and somewhere in the world, an evil warlock was cackling at her misery.
“I didn’t!” Katie cried. She had meant to leave it at that, deny everything else, and find a way to squeeze in the ‘the talk’ Angie and Leanne had kept on bleating about.
But, as it was, Katie wasn’t the one for moderation, and everything she had vowed to take to her grave came out in a seemingly unending word-vomit. “He’s back for a few weeks, and Fred and George thought it’d be fun to set me up with him. They even told him I fancied him and today was our date. That’s why you weren’t allowed to sit with us. He showed me all his tattoos. You should get one, by the way. Even the one on his arse and then tried to snog me because Lee told him I wanted him to.”
“Yeah, I saw that…” Marcus trailed off. He wanted to say more, but Katie wasn’t done.
“I didn’t want to, but he got me on the cheek,” she howled. “Then you were gone before we could have the talk. And now Angie and Leanne think that you meant it when you told Skeeter I was a no-one to you.”
“I know I said it was okay you told her that. And I really, really tried to ignore it, honest. But it hurts here.” Katie rubbed her stomach to emphasise her point. “Then Angie said that you needed to take a shit or something or otherwise we wouldn’t be proper couple…”
Marcus rubbed his face as he tried to make sense of the more and more nonsensical words Katie seemed to sprout. “Bell… Katie, love-”
“Why aren’t you my boyfriend?” Katie wailed louder than before. “I don’t understand.”
“Wot?” She finally tore her face from his wet shirt and looked up.
“Can I say something now?” Marcus asked carefully, waiting for another eruption. When she nodded, he smiled down at her as he tucked a strand behind her ear. “I didn’t leave because of Charlie Weasley. I had to, uh, go home for a minute. And then take a shower…”
“What?” Katie frowned as she pulled back to study his face. He seemed to be telling the truth she concluded after a few moments of intense gazing. “What are you doing here, then?”
Marcus shrugged, his smile broadening. “I saw you coming up the path and thought it’d be funny to scare- uh, surprise you. Just my luck that you happened to come in here instead.”
“Oh.” Well, that was anti-climactic. “So you didn’t leave because you were jealous. Not at all?”
“I, ah, no. Didn’t have much time for that to be honest.”
“But your friends were mean to me when I tried to talk to them after you-”
“Yeah, that sounds about right. You’ll get used to it, feel free to tell them to suck on a mandrake root if they become too much, though.” Gods, he loved those blokes. They were like the brothers he never had.