Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Relationships: Katie Bell/Marcus Flint, Mr Bell/ Mrs Bell
Series: Part 3 of Unconventional, Almost Unlikely
Summary: It's a little over a year since the happenings in Katie&Marcus and Howard Bell still hasn't warmed up to his son-in-law.
Squeak, moan, whimper. Squeak, moan, whimper.
The rhythmic sequence of the noise was a maddening. No matter how hard Howard Bell tried, he wasn’t able to block it out. It wasn’t loud, and if you didn’t know, you wouldn’t have guessed that it was there. But he knew, and that was the problem. It wasn't the sound of someone turning on the bed or having a restless night of sleep. Dear Merlin, how he wished that it was the whimpers of his daughter having a nightmare. He would have barged in there to hold her until she'd settled just like he had done many times a long, long time ago. But, as it was, she wasn't, and he'd be damned to go in there now.
Once the realisation had set in what he was listening to, it had become impossible to pretend he didn’t hear it nor could he keep out the assaulting images that invaded his mind. So when the first cries of the baby demanding his nightly feeding had reached his tortured ears, he had jumped out the bed to tend to him.
And here he sat in the dimly lit living room, giving his nearly six months old grandson his bottle as he told him a story. The noises hadn’t let up, in fact, it seemed as if it had picked up pace. Howard knew all too well about the joys of youthful stamina, but this was getting ridiculous and not to mention, highly improper. There was a time and place for such things, and it wasn’t in his house.
Squeak, moan, whimper. Squeak, moan, whimper.
Taking deep, calming breaths, and trying to ignore the fact of where the milk in the bottle had come from, he concentrated on his grandson. Julius was hogging down his milk as if he hadn’t been fed in days. Howard could only imagine from who he got his voracity. And just like, a throwaway comment his son-in-law had found necessary to share earlier came to mind -something about the son taking after his father and their love for Katie's chest- and made him grimace. Thankfully, he didn't have to gag this time.
Squeak, moan, whimper. Squeak, moan, whimper.
“Once I perfect my spell,” he loudly continued his bedtime story, “I’ll pin him to the floor and start with his toenails. They’ll come undone slowly, and he’ll scream himself-”
Dressed in her nightgown and with curlers in her hair, a bleary-eyed Carol Bell stood in the door opening, tapping her foot in impatience. “What are you doing?”
“What does it look like I'm doing? I’m giving the little booger his bottle while I tell him a story.” He smiled down at Julius, who returned the sentiment with a broad, milky grin from behind his bottle.
Although bits and pieces of Katie shone through at times, like now, Howard had to admit with pain in his heart that the little boy took too much after his father. As if yanking their young and innocent Katie from their arms hadn’t been enough, the bastard had to go and ensure that his grandson didn’t have a Bell bone in his body. Sometimes, he caught himself hoping that his next grandbaby would take a liking to their side of the family, but then he remembered how babies were made, and the need for more grandchildren evaporated into thin air.
“A story?” Carol put her hands on her hips as her brows shot up to her hairline in disbelief. “Describing how you want to torture someone is hardly an appropriate bedtime story.”
“So?” Howard shrugged as he forcefully pulled the drained down bottle from Julius’ still sucking lips -that damned comment came to mind again- and moved him to his shoulder to burp. “He doesn’t understand a word of what I say. Do you, little troll cub?”
“Howard!” Carol shrieked in indignation and took three long strides to reach him and hit him upside his head. “Don’t call him names, you git. What’s got into you?”
He shrugged again, pouting. He was told off more times in the last year than he had been in his whole life. All thanks to Marcus sodding Flint. Apparently, the boy's feelings mattered more than his. When Carol repeated her question, he let out a deep, miserable sigh. “I can’t sleep.”
“How come?” Carol flopped down next to him and began stroking Julius’ chubby cheek, warbling playful gibberish to counter her husband’s improper ‘story’.
“Too much noise. It keeps me awake,” Howard grumbled. Even his grandson’s giggles in his ear couldn’t lighten his mood. When he noticed his wife’s confused look, he cocked his chin at the ceiling and repeated his earlier statement. “Too. Much. Noise.”
"What noise? I don't hear anything." Unsure about what he was getting at, Carol tilted her head to listen more carefully. Slowly, comprehension dawned, and she averted her face, biting the inside of her cheek to keep herself from bursting out in laughter. "Oh, that..."
When she was sure that she'd be able to manage a straight face, she turned to Howard and Julius again. As she helped her husband pat their grandson’s back, she searched for the words to sooth him. “Well, uhm, they are newlyweds still. And with us taking caring of this little man tonight, they’re making the, uh, best of their time alone.”
As soon as the words left her lips, she winced. That didn’t sound right at all.
“The best?” Howard hissed. On cue, a slight banging sound joined the squeaking and moans. “They have a sodding nursery elf; I’m sure that they had more than enough chance to make the best of their time before now.”
“Katie doesn’t trust him,” Carol rushed to appease. An involuntary chill ran down her spine at the thought of Crumpet. The elf was a nightmare come true. “You’ve said it yourself; there is something off with it. Between Marcus training for the World Cup and the Tornadoes, her taking care of the baby and trying to keep the elf away, they hardly have time to themselves. Now that his cousin is going to be living with them for the summer, they'll have even less time alone.”
“But here? In her old room?” Howard shook his head in disgust and disappointment. He wanted to say that Katie’s room was a sacred place to him. It was the last sliver left of the little girl she had once been and Flint had managed to defile that as well. Julius' grown up burp interrupted him, though.
“Where else? You were to one to insist that they’d spend the night here.”
“Yeah, to spend Father’s Day with us, not to go at it like rabbits the minute we leave them alone. And he should be staying in the guestroom.”
“C’mon love,” Carol said laughing, “they’re married. What did you expect?”
“Some respect and self-control. Is that too much to ask? Look where the lack of both got them.” Howard tickled Julius’ belly, not sure if he ought to smile or scowl. He couldn't imagine a life without the little booger, and he'd gladly give his life to save him in the case the need would arise, but he was still a bit upset about the fact that their Jules had arrived a decade or two too soon.
“Sweet Circe, when have you become such a grump? Do I have to remind you that we-” She eyed Julius for a second before she quietly continued, “Do I have to remind you that we had sex in your parents’ house with them in the next room? We went at it rabbits.”
Howard’s eyes widened at the reminder, and he quickly ducked his head. “That was different. We had to live with them because we couldn’t afford a flat of our own. At least we had the decency and smarts to use a Silencing Charm.”
"Yeah, about that..." Carol shook her head. She'd use that one if push came to shove. “What about that time in McGonagall’s office then. One would say we showed some serious lack of respect and self-control there.”
“That doesn’t count. We were young and stupid.”
“And much younger than Katie was when she-"
"No!" Howard nearly choked at that completely irrelevant bit of information. They had a pact, dammit. They had vowed to raise their daughter better and stricter than either of theirs parents had done with them. One of their agreements was that they wouldn't speak aloud of their Hogwarts time, ever.
"Oh, don't forget the loo at Westminster Abbey,” Carol went on. She wasn’t one to give up that easily. “We caused a longer cue for the toilets than the one to get in in the first place.”
“We were on our honeymoon,” Howard brushed her off. “Besides, we didn’t know a single one of those Muggles, so that doesn’t count. What’s your point, anyway?”
“My point is that when you’re young and randy-”
"Merlin, woman, don’t say that,” Howard groaned. “That’s my little girl you’re talking about.”
Carol rolled her eyes and sighed in exasperation. “Whether you like it or not, Katie’s hardly a wide-eyed innocent, you dolt. The proof of that is dozing off in your arms.”
Howard scowled. He liked to believe that Julius came into existence through immaculate conception. It happened sometimes. The muggles even wrote a bestselling book about it ages ago. Unfortunately for him, the chance to voice his theory aloud passed him when Marcus Flint’s high-pitched and slightly panicked voice resonated through the house.
“No, love, don’t stick your finger in there- Hooooooh.” A loud, guttural moan, shadowed by Katie’s excited voice telling that they should do that more often, followed soon after.
While Carol turned an unhealthy shade of crimson as she clasped her hand over her mouth not to burst out in laughter, Howard grew paler than he already was. Julius had jolted awake in his arms and was now giggling and clapping his hands in joy at hearing his parents.
The older couple sat frozen for a few minutes, neither daring to say something or look at each other. The only sounds were the laughter from their daughter’s room and their grandson’s happy babbles. Eventually, Carol found her voice and remembered how to use her limbs. Although she was glad that the worst was over now, she had an inclining the squeaking and banging would return later in the night. Perhaps, it was time to fill Howard in about what his mother had told her after living together for a week.
“Let’s go to bed, yeah? I’ll show you some of the sound-proofing charms your mother taught me.”
The next morning, breakfast started out tense. While Carol busied herself with the cooking as she chattered non-stop and Marcus hopped Julius on his knee while feeding him little pieces of fruit, Howard refused to take his eyes off his empty plate.
He had spent most of the night wide awake, staring at the ceiling as he had listened. While glad that the noises had stopped -thanks to his wife’s muting charms, no doubt- a small part of him had hoped to hear something so he could bang on Katie’s door and demand they’d cut if off lest he did it for them. Literally.
That hadn’t happened, unfortunately. But it wasn’t the reason for his long face. Earlier that morning, over changing Julius’ smelly morning nappy, he had promised Carol not to say a word about the previous night and keep up a happy front. Well, that plan fell through the minute Marcus -or the devil incarnate, as he liked to call him- had strolled into the kitchen.
After the obligatory good-mornings and the less than heartfelt Father’s Day wishes, the sodding bastard had sat down and asked if they had slept well. In itself, the question had been a harmless one. But the smirk on his face had told Howard all he needed to know, and if hadn’t been for Julius, he would have hexed the son of a troll out his house.
“One of these days,” he mumbled under his breath as he tightly curled his fingers around his butter knife.
“Good morning, Daddy. Happy Father’s Day,” Katie twittered as she walked in.
For the first time that morning, Howard cracked a genuine smile and finally looked up from his plate. His happiness was short-lived when he realised that Katie had been greeting her husband instead of him.
He wanted to lament that he was the oldest ‘Daddy’ in the house and therefore should be treated as such, not the idiot who was currently trying to suck her face off. By the time Katie remembered they weren’t alone, Howard was ready to stab himself in the eye.
“Sorry,” Katie apologised and darted over to him to wrap her arms around his neck and plant a sound kiss on his cheek. “Happy Father’s Day to you, too, Dad. Marcus and I have so much planned for you today. You’re gonna love it.”
Howard grunted in reply and just as he wanted to return to study his empty plate when Katie took a seat next to her husband and son -who was already eagerly clawing at her blouse for something to drink- he caught Marcus’ eye. He redirected all his energy into his glare in the hopes that Aurelius Flint’s devil spawn would turn into a puff of smoke. Despite his best efforts, that didn’t happen, though. Instead, the boy's infuriating grin grew wider, and he even had the audacity to waggle his brows and wink. Just a year ago, the boy had nearly shat his pants at the sight of him. Where had he gone wrong?
“What’s going on?” Katie asked when she noticed the staring match. She waved her hand over the table to break whatever spell they were under, but neither man answered or reacted. She turned to Carol in askance. “Mum, what did I miss?”
Carol turned her eyes to the heavens and let out a world-weary sigh. It promised to be a long day after all.
“Ah, darling,” she began and stopped. Since it was already a sensitive subject and discussing the situation aloud would probably add fuel to the smouldering embers, she decided to take another approach. She leant in, and quietly explained what had happened during the night.
As expected, Katie’s eyes grew wide in horror and the blush that had already been on her cheeks spread out across her face and down her neck. As if stung by a bee, she turned to Marcus and jabbed her finger in his chest in accusation.
“You had one job to do!”