Who: Terry Boot and Katie Bell
Where: Diagon Alley
Summary: Katie tries to gather the courage to face Mr. Flourish, and bumps into an old friend
Looking down the Alley for what seemed the umpteenth time, Katie bit her lip in sheer frustration.
Frustration at herself.
Sick of being tired, sick of only going through hers and Blaise's belongings, and sick of being sick, Katie had decided she'd get out of the house and get something important done. This something was making up with her dear friend, Mr. Flourish. She had left without telling him anything, and if he had pieced things together, he would know WHO she had left with... the very man he had warned her about. Perhaps this was why she lost her nerve every time she looked at the shop that she had once always felt so welcomed in.
Now it frightened her.
Sighing, she knew standing in this Alley on a cool, windy day would throw Nikky into fits, so Katie decided to walk some... just until she was ready. Turning in the opposite direction, she began to walk down the always crowded cobbled street, fiddling with the bracelet on her thin wrist. Nikky had uncovered it in Blaise's belongings... and she had reasons to believe it was his mother's. She had worn it in hopes of giving her a little comfort... a little courage. The hard piece of metal was a little big for wrist, but it gave her something to run her fingers across mindlessly while she walked.
Terry walked down the same street in the opposite direction, unusually absent-minded. He needed to buy groceries and odds and bobs for his flat at a reasonably low price. Although he shifted between two jobs, Terry could feel the ominous cloud of poverty looming over him. It always seemed like he was scraping to get by. He shoved his hands in his pockets glumly as he passed the warmth and noise coming from the shops in the Alley.
Her thoughts consumed with what Mr. Flourish would say to her, and what on earth would she be able to say back, Katie didn't notice the rather stately looking witch who was marching quickly in her direction until their shoulders collided. Her fingers caught beneath the bracelet, she yanked at it hard when the impact hit... and the metal band went flying, bouncing on the stones at their feet before landing upright and rolling away. Ignoring the outraged tongue lashing the witch was giving, Katie dashed after it, ignoring the ache in her leg. Blaise's... Blaise's mother's! She couldn't lose it.... but the crowd was slowing her down as the bracelet rolled on.
Terry happened to be staring at the ground as he was walking and as he passed a bald wizard with liver spots on his scalp, he noticed something metal rolling towards him. He bent down and picked it up, examining it. Several people bumped into him, but he didn't pay attention towards them. Wondering where it came from, Terry lifted his eyes and saw a familiar figure coming towards him. â€˜Is that Katie Bell?â€™ he thought incredulously. She looked incredibly pale, and thin.
She didn't even look up at the face of whoever had rescued the bracelet. Instead, her eyes were glued to the metal band, making sure it didn't disappear anywhere... more specifically, someone's pocket. Katie came to a faltering stop as her leg complained painfully at her rushed gait. It didn't matter now. "Thank you!" she panted breathlessly as she all but snatched the object back and quickly reattached it to her wrist. She would be more careful this time.
Still trying to catch her breath, she finally looked up so she could thank the man properly. Her thanks died on her tongue while her eyes flew wide. A few blinks and moments of silence, she finally whispered, "T-Terry?" It had been two years since she had last seen him... and goodness he had changed a lot from the 16-year-old she used to tutor in Transfiguration.
Terry was grateful that she had recognized him, despite the deep scar on his face that was impossible to hide. "Katie. It's been a while," he said, nodding to her. "Nice bracelet, you have there." He had to resort to simple sentences and stupid subjects now. Typical. Terry had thought he was past acting this way around a woman (Merlin, he couldn't stop fidgeting), but apparently he had gotten his hopes too far up.
"Oh... um, thanks..." Katie replied dumbly. Her brain was still trying to get around the fact that it was Terry Boot she was talking to. She wasn't surprised he was keeping his speaking short and simple. He used to be a bit timid around girls, and was a reserved person in general.
When her mind started to catch up with her, she said, "It has been a while, hasn't it? I haven't seen you since before my graduation... and a lot has changed since then..." She was referring to herself, but she couldn't help frowning sympathetically at the scar that ran across the right side of his face. Another one hurt... another one forever marked by the war. It seemed no one had survived it unscathed.
â€˜More drastically to you, it seems,â€™ Terry thought, slightly concerned. He had never seen her look so pale before. "Yes, true. What have you been up to? Is everything.... all right?" He knew it sounded pathetic, as it was a clumsy attempt to ask her what really had happened to make her look like she had just seen a ghost. Maybe he could invite her for a cup of tea or coffee. It had been a while since he drank the stuff, and for once, practicable things didn't seem so important now.
Katie gave him a sad smile. She hadn't known Terry overly well back in their days at Hogwarts, but she knew him well enough to read between the lines for what he always had a hard time saying. "I've... been better. Things are a little rough right now, but I think... I hope... things are improving. I've just been a bit... stressed." Ha. There's an understatement. The wind began to nip at her exposed skin, so she tucked her hands in her robes' pockets. "What about you? How have you been holding up?"
"Fine, although financially is another story. Everything is so damned expensive now," Terry said, "like paying for flats and food." He glanced over her shoulder as he started to feel a surge of shame for telling her this. This was not the way he wanted her to perceive him: scarred, crippled, and practically broke. "But, never mind. Say, care for a cup of tea? It might be a way to get out of the weather." There was a small teahouse down the street that was reasonably cheap and offered good pastries in addition to beverages. It was a cozy place and Terry had stopped by on occasion.
Katie's smile became more cheerful. A hot drink would be just the thing to settle her nerves, which after the bracelet fiasco were ready to hit the roof. "I'd like that. Were you thinking of the little shop down the way?" she asked, nodding her head in the direction of the teahouse. "I've been there before, and it's very nice," she explained as they both turned and started to head down that way. "But I know what you mean... I got very lucky for a while in that my old place was small, and cheap enough that when I worked for the store below, I was pretty much working for my rent. I don't have that now." Katie felt a slight twinge to her pride. Andy would never let her back now, not after leaving him so suddenly, and even if he did it would not be so generously as before. So now she had to rely on others... for which she was very lucky to HAVE others to rely on, but it stung a little nonetheless. Katie mentally shook herself and kept her _expression pleasant. "Still, you don't seem to be too badly off, if I do say so myself." She gave him a slight nudge with her elbow. "Not starving at any rate, and that's always a good sign."
Terry begrudgingly had to admit that she was right. "That's true. I'd rather be surviving than slowly starving to death. I'm glad everything seems to be all right for you." He still hoped that there wasn't a serious reason why she was looking like this, but then again, there probably wasn't a reason that wasn't serious. He held the door open for her as they both entered the teahouse.
Katie gave him a reassuring smile, but something in her eyes was still sad. She shrugged off her coat and draped it over the back of her chair as they chose a small table towards the back. Her shirt was looser than what she'd normally wear, as she was hoping it would hide the worst of her weight loss. What she didn't know was that it accented where the bones nearly stuck out on her shoulders, and as the sleeves went only three quarters, her thin wrists seemed dwarfed even more so by the large bracelet on her right hand. Still, she paid none of this any attention, and bustled about getting their drinks before settling down with him at the table. "So then, how have you been getting by? Where do you work?" Curiosity always was a bad habit with her.
Terry decided that although he was supposed to be quiet about his job, he trusted Katie enough to tell her. Casting a silencing charm around their table secretly, he cleared his throat. "I work in the DA, helping Neville as his second in command, or almost as such."
Katie's jaw plunged. "You... you are?? When? I mean, how long?" It didn't quite bother her... she was only unnerved by the fact that she hadn't known. Blaise had kept her well up to date about much of the DA doings, because she was technically a member. 'A member who has done very little to be of much help,' she added bitterly to herself.
"Couple years," Terry said. "It was during that time that my left hand was ruined." He sighed and tore up part of his paper napkin. That wasn't the sort of thing he wanted to tell her, as he hardly needed her sympathy. But it might be nice.
"So you've been working with them all along then?" Katie asked, awed. Many of the children at Hogwarts, whether ready to graduate or not, had been forced to grow up FAST because of the war. The fact that he went right into the war straight from school without a second glance back impressed her. Then she felt a twinge when she noticed he was keeping his left hand from view. Oh, she knew exactly how he felt. "Can I see?" she asked softly.
Terry slowly brought his left hand to the light. His fingers were permanently stuck bent, and horrible scars were all over them, including the center of his palm where the curse had hit.
Her _expression was one of pain as Katie stared at Terry's hand. It wasn't because she was revolted... but because she knew what sort of agony the injury must have caused him. Very gently, she cupped the side of his hand with hers, looking up at him, not with pity in her eyes, but understanding. "What happened?"
He glanced at his left hand and slowly raised his eyes to her own. "I came across a Death Eater about to kill a woman, but I stopped him just in time. He shot Crucio at me and I raised my hand to shield my face. The brunt of the curse hit my palm and damaged my nerves. I never could use it properly afterwards."
A slight frown tugged at Katie's lips. Crucio didn't usually cause so much damage, even if such at a close range. It took repeated use of it in order to drive one mad, so the simple, basic curse itself shouldn't be able to ruin the hand the way this curse had. But then it occurred to her that his situation could be like hers: a variant of the Cruciatus curse. "That was very brave of you," she finally said. "You took a huge risk... and at least you were able to save that woman..." She couldn't help the bitterness that entered her voice. She had gotten injured in a quest for revenge; her mother had already been dead by the time she had gotten there.
"That's true. However, who knows how many people that Death Eater had killed beforehand. At least I was able to save lives that day," Terry said quietly. "You know, when I was at Hogwarts, I never knew it would come to this: facing deaths of people you know or didn't know every day. I can't stand the level to which humanity has stooped." Ending his rant there, he took a sip of his drink and looked at her apologetically. "I know I'm ranting. Please excuse me."
Katie chuckled, although there wasn't much humor in it. "It's alright. Quite frankly, I feel very much the same way." She pulled her hand back away from his so she could cup her own drink, taking a sip before saying thoughtfully, "And be proud you saved a life; you spared one more from being lost. I only wish I could have done the same." Her eyes drifted towards her drink as she swirled it lightly in her hands.
"I'm sure there will be opportunities in the future for you to save people's lives," Terry said. Truth be told, he wasn't sure he wanted her to be in any life-or-death situation. He did not want to lose any more of his friends to the scum that were Death Eaters. Terry sighed. "Some cheerful conversation this is. What sort of things are you up to nowadays?"
Despite his comment, she felt a little better at his suggestion that there would be more opportunities for her to help... and perhaps make up for those she hadn't been able to help, both in her old village, and those she could have been aiding while she spent several months in the hospital. Katie laughed at his question however. "Trying to piece together my life. It's become... very messed up..." She smiled at the understatement THAT was. "Right now I'm living with friends... and right before you saw me, I was trying to get up the courage to make up with a friend I think I've probably offended."
"Who was it?" Terry asked before he could help himself. "I don't know how you could have offended them... You're one of the nicest people I know." As if he wasn't obvious before, now he had merely incriminated himself more. He took another sip and managed to speak again. "I hope it's nothing serious."
If Katie didn't notice his discomfort; she was too relieved to have someone to talk to. "Mr. Flourish... you know, from Flourish and Blotts? He's been like a father to me since... since my injury. He helped me find my old job, and kept an eye on me... kept me company, and was someone I could turn to. He... he warned me about a certain acquaintance whom he thought was dangerous... and I left, without telling him anything, to go stay with the one he had warned me about. Mr. Flourish was wrong about him... but I still feel like I should at least have TOLD him... shown some appreciation for all he's done for me."
Terry nodded as she talked. He wanted to say something that might help her, but he couldn't think of anything. "At least everything will be out in the open, then. I hope it goes well." â€˜If it doesn't, I will talk to him personally.â€™
Katie beamed, feeling better. "Thank you... it helps a lot just hearing you say that." Indeed it did... for that's exactly what she had felt like. She felt she had been hiding things; now she wanted to get them out in the open. And hearing his faith and his wish that things went well helped lessen the worst of her fears.
Terry smiled and glanced at his watch. "When did you want to meet Mr. Flourish? I'm probably keeping you," he said, wiping the corner of his mouth with his napkin. "May I walk you there?"
Katie finished off her tea before smiling at him. "Would you? You can make sure I don't chicken out again..." She found herself laughing again. Cor, she hadn't been able to be this... happy in a while. "If you don't mind, we can start heading over there. I didn't want to stay out too late..." Mostly because with her finicky health as of late, the less time she spent too far from home, the better.
Terry stood and headed out of the teahouse, holding the door for her once more. They started down the cobblestone road, and a cold wind blew into their eyes. Terry squinted as much as he could. "Bloody weather," he muttered. "Maybe I can owl you sometime? For more tea, maybe,?"
"I'd like that," Katie replied, huddling under her coat, but smiling despite the wind. She wasn't so nervous anymore about facing Mr. Flourish. If anything... she was, dare she think it, hopeful.
"All right. Good luck with Mr. Flourish. I'll see you around," said Terry, smiling and waving with his right hand as he turned to head home.
"Bye Terry! Take care, and thanks again!" Katie replied before taking a deep breath and entering the book store.