Who: Harry Potter and Katie Bell
Where: Kitchen, 12 Grimmauld Place
Summary: Harry runs into his new housemate and the two chat.
Notes: Started in AIM, will continue in LJ when Aurora gets back on Monday.
One day, long after this is all over, you'll wake up in the mornings and toddle down to the kitchen, with nothing more on your mind than whether the owl has delivered the paper on time. The house will be quiet because the grandkids have all left for the day, and you'll have plans for a relaxing day of sipping tea and reading up on the latest Quidditch scores. You'll head to the kitchen - slowly, because your body isn't as spry as it used to be - and stop in the doorway and smile, because sitting at the table will be the woman you've chosen to spend your life with. She'll bring you happiness and joy and all the love you deserve. We'll come out of this all right, Harry. It'll be difficult, but it'll be all right in the end.
Ginny had loved to make up scenarios about their post-war lives. The more tired she was, the more elaborate the stories were. At one point she had an entire scenario built around her life as a solo music artist, complete with title tracks to her many releases and addictions to illegal potions and the order of Quidditch players she was going to shag. For Harry she liked to paint idyllic scenarios of peace or grand adventures wrought with glitter and wealth. None of her scenarios involved him puttering around listlessly in a silent tomb of a home while his body broke down and he waited for death to come.
Still, when he entered the kitchen and spotted the unfamiliar female bent over a cup of tea at the table, he caught his breath. He only released it when memory kicked in and assigned a name to the face that turned his way. "Katie."
She had looked up, expecting Hermione to appear in the doorway; the two of them seemed to be the only ones moving within this house. So her tired eyes widened with surprise when it was not Hermione who paused in confusion at the entrance to the kitchen, but Harry. Katie had been warned that Harry was fairing even worse than he had been at their first Order meeting... an event that seemed to have taken place years ago, rather than a few months.
Looking at him now, Katie could tell he was indeed far worse than he had been at the dinner that night. She only knew a taste of what he must be experiencing, but she knew when someone was standing with pain bearing down on them. Yet she knew better than to heap Harry Potter with sympathy; the results were often the opposite of what was hoped for. Instead she gave a very soft smile, and nodded slightly. "Harry," she answered.
Without an audience Harry would have shuffled in, but pride forced his steps to be lighter as he headed for the range, even if each step sent a jolt of pain through him. He didn't speak again until he had the counter propping him up, but even then his voice came out more softly than he would have liked. "Sorry I wasn't here to help you move in." He had been there, of course. He just hadn't come down. "Settling in all right?"
Katie smiled a bit more, though there was a bitterness to it. "Being that this is my second move in the span of two months, it's gotten rather easy. Not like I had much take..." That had certainly been true. Shrink a few things, organize it just right, and all her possessions fit in just under two trunks worth. Even her mother's guitar, which still lay untouched at the bottom of one of the trunks.
She hadn't felt much like singing lately.
Yanking her thoughts away from the overly depressing, she wrapped her fingers around her mug, letting the warmth seep into her skin as she looked up at Harry almost shyly. "Harry... I just wanted... I just wanted to thank you for letting me stay here." She hadn't been there when Hermione talked it over with Harry... she only heard that he had agreed she could stay... and she hadn't had a chance to thank him yet.
If she'd been around for that conversation, she might not have been so eager to thank him. Harry didn't remember too much of it, but he was pretty sure that the phrase "adopting strays" had come up several times before Hermione had beaten him into submission with her guilt trips and her logic.
He let none of that show, however, as he inclined his head to her. "There's plenty of room." As he flicked his wand to get the kettle to pour into his cup, he racked his mind for anything that Hermione had told him about Katie's current circumstances. After a few minutes of drawing a blank, he gave up. He wasn't in the mood for small talk anyway. "Did Hermione tell you about the wards around this place?"
"Not much..." Katie admitted after she took a sip of her tea. "She's been very busy lately... it seems she's got a quite a bit on her plate right now. And I've been either keeping out of her way, or resting." She rubbed her head and chuckled. "I have no idea why I've been so tired lately. Hand me a pillow, and I could fall asleep anywhere... which is odd considering that's nearly all I did until Hermione found me." Katie shook her head before taking another draught of tea.
Ah, the details of that argument with Hermione were starting to come back now. She'd told him about the conditions in which she'd found Katie, in much more detail than the blonde would probably feel comfortable with Harry knowing, so he merely nodded.
"There are at least fifteen separate wards around the house and the entry ways. I'll get Dobby to show you the ones you'll need to work on if you go in and out." He reached for his cup, but didn't take his gaze off her. "This isn't a safe house, Katie. Not while I'm in it."
Katie met his gaze steadily. "You say that like it's that much safer anywhere else but here. Right now, anywhere I could go might have some sort of risk attached to it, or a chance of inviting danger. Places I thought were safe of such things can just as likely to prove otherwise, I know that now. I understand you're trying to warn me... and I appreciate that... but I won't leave just because of it."
Harry smiled, though there was no humour behind it. "I wasn't trying to make you leave." And he wasn't, he realised. He'd been worried that an extra person in the house might get in the way, but although she was in the kitchen when he'd rather be alone, she kept to herself and didn't pry. He could live with that. "I was giving you a chance. Do you know Malfoy's also living here?"