Chapter 3 : Tammie's Lake
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Author's Note To my lovely reviewers - I can't thank you enough for the amazing support you're giving me right now! And so, I felt I had to give back. So here's a final Charlie/Kate scene, just like you asked for. :) Enjoy! And, as always, I'd love it if you reviewed. ^____^
Eric Bana as Charlie Weasley
Justin Bartha as Joseph "Joey" Gibbs
We walked towards the exit of the building. Joey, friendly as he was, kept annoyingly gushing about how absolutely great it was to have another shepherd and how fantastic my experience here would be and how much my character would grow by adjusting to less-than-luxurious conditions. Merlin. If I wanted to live like a monk, I'd have joined my brother. One look outside convinced me that this was absolutely not going to go the way I'd planned. Flying in cold weather I could deal with. Flying in an ice-bath was a little less nice to deal with. I hated that. The snow would in one day make me feel like the Abominable Snowman. And that was never an attractive self-image.
We came towards the exit. A large sign above the door read in blazing letters: YOU ARE NOW LEAVING A SECURED ZONE. SECURITY AT YOUR OWN RISK. DO NOT ENTER WITHOUT AUTHORIZATION OR PROTECTION.
Joey fished inside his jacket and pulled out a lanyard. A moving photograph of his face on the laminated card grinned and waved as he swiped it through the reader. Without a word, he passed and handed me his card.
"Identification, so that Marshal knows where everyone is at all times. You'll get yours by tomorrow, I expect, but there's a backlog right now."
Brilliant. An absolutely unfashionable piece of plastic to wear round my neck all day long. I smiled and said: "Okay!" Joey grinned and handed me his lanyard.
"Here, use mine for today. Just swipe it through, face towards you and black stripe down and then push the turnstile."
I did so, marveling at the way these wizards had adapted Muggle technology. I couldn't figure out a telephone even if I did try. But Joey looked pleased that I had gotten through with no trouble.
"We won't be flying today, since I'm just going to be teaching you herding tactics and who goes where. Tomorrow we can put it all into practice and then you can really show off all of your marvelous skills!"
He looked so happy that it was nearly infectious. Nearly. As we passed through the exit doors, a gust of cold, cold air wrapped us up and froze my bones.
"H-how do we get to the e-exhibits?" I asked, teeth chattering. Joey had smartly decided to conjure a nice knitted hat and scarf. Without question, I did the same. Well, perhaps mine didn't look like hat and scarf so much as lumpy lump and less lumpy lump. But it kept me warm.
"We walk," he answered simply, and then looked at me with pity. "Do you want to go run and get your hiking boots?" he asked. I nodded and dashed down the corridor. Pulling out my wand so that I might this time not get quite so lost, I muttered a spell.
"Point me." It swiveled to face straight ahead, and off I went, like a rabbit. It didn't take me long to get to Whitespine Lodge. I ran towards my room, threw off my ill-fated sandals, and shoved my abnormally large feet into socks and, as per Joey's recommendation, my brand-new hiking boots. Sourly I noticed that soon enough, I was going to have blisters.
I came back to Joey with a bright smile on my face. "Here we go!" I said, and borrowed his card again to swipe myself through the turnstile. I turned to face him and - lo and behold! There he was! That god among men! My heart palpitated.
"Welcome back, Kate," said Joey with a warm smile. "Do you know Charlie?"
I shook my head. "Not officially. Nice to meet you, Charlie. I'm Kate."
Charlie grunted. "Likewise. Next time, don't wake me up."
Ugh. How was it that such physical perfection always came with the worst of personalities? Nature really was a sadist sometimes. I rolled my eyes but flashed him a - I hope! Oh, gods, I hope! - winning smile.
I could feel Joey's bright eyes on Charlie and myself. Goofy and perceptive? It was nearly too good to be true. I'd always gotten crap partners at Hogwarts. Especially my last year. Slughorn had had the gall to pair me up with Cho Chang. How thick can a man get?
"Charlie was going to accompany us to Tammie's lake, since he traded off with Sam. Apparently dear Samuel's got his girlfriend flying in tonight, eh?" Joey punched Charlie's shoulder. "Teasing material, mate."
Charlie afforded a laugh and I tried a giggle. But they both looked at me awkwardly. Right. Stifle the giggles. Giggles no good. Manly laugh good. I tried a chortle, but they had already begun to move out the door.
"So how far is Tammie's lake?" I asked conversationally. The sun had begun to peek through the gray clouds, and though it was still frightfully cold (the snow crunched under my boots), I found myself in a better mood.
It seemed that had the same effect on Charlie, too. "About two and a half miles uphill and then it's another quarter mile down to her lake. She's pretty tame, so it's good you're starting out with her. I mean, a Welsh Green. You don't get much better than that."
"I'm eager to start," I answered happily. At least it wasn't snowing, though I could quickly see that the reflection of the sun on the snow would rapidly blind me. Glasses and lumpy scarves seemed to be in fashion everywhere right now.
I tried to make conversation. "So how long have you both been working here?" I asked.
Joey shrugged. "I've been here for - what is it? - two years now? Charlie's been here since I was at Hogwarts - weren't you a year behind me, Kate? I was in Hufflepuff."
I shrugged. I never remember anyone from Hogwarts anyways. "Probably."
Joey looked dejected, but an amused smile seemed to light up Charlie's bearded face.
"How long has Marshal recruited you for, Kate?" Joey asked, all disappointment fading.
I shrugged my shoulders, fingering with the fringe of my lumpy scarf. "Four years, he says, but if things go well and I like it here, he told me I could go indefinite."
Charlie looked interested and my stomach flip-flopped. "That's curious," he murmured. "He usually only offers indefinite positions to people he really thinks will work out. You must've made a good impression on him. I think he might like you."
"Like me?" I blubbered. Charlie nudged Joey.
"What we mean, Kate," elaborated Joey, "is that Marshal takes a liking to the pretty, young new recruits. Like yourself. Thing is, I don't think Jes is going to like that very much. She never does."
"Jes?" I asked tonelessly. Fantastic. A boss who hits on the newbies. And here I thought it'd be nice, calm, picking edelweiss while singing the hills are alive... (ah-ah-ah-ah) Obviously, I thought wrong.
"Jesabel," Charlie answered with a grin. "Marshal's wife."
I stopped walking and they passed me. Once they noticed, however, they both wheeled around and looked at me curiously.
"He's married?!" I shouted.
"Oy!" said Charlie. "Don't go singing it on the mountain. You might cause an avalanche and we might lose Helmsley. And if that happens, I swear to God ..."
I held my hands up in front of me to stop his tirade. "Okay, I get it. No endangering the dragons by loud shouting on the mountain. But, honestly?"
I grinned and Charlie shrugged, appeased. "Why do you think Mads is so familiar with him?"
Okay, whoah. "Mads?"
Joey looked uncomfortable. "She was the newest one before you came. What, does it come as a surprise?"
We started walking again and I pondered all of the new information. "Why are you telling me all this? Technically, shouldn't it be girls who do this kind of thing? Ooh, watch out for that one, dearie, he's a real rascal. Oh, Charlotte, I simply can't believe you'd do this to me! That kind of thing?"
They both looked at each other and broke out into peals of laughter. Joey slung an arm around my shoulders and rapped his knuckles into my skull. Ow. Ow. Ow-ow-ow-ow.
"Technically, yes. But the girls around here are all too caught up in their dragonology or their sulking that Marshal has passed on to the next girl. They all fancy themselves the prettiest little thing, don't you see?"
Absolutely not. "Of course, that makes total sense. But - honestly, Mads?" I frowned. "From what I've seen of her - and, yeah, okay, not a lot - she doesn't seem that type of girl."
Joey looked downcast again. "Who does these days?"
We'd been walking steadily and I hadn't taken a care to look at the scenery around me. But now that we'd reached the crest of the hill, a lake and a small, snow-littered forest came into view. My breath stopped, and I'm not one for that, usually.
Charlie spread his arms. "Come on, Tammie's waiting."
And then, without warning, he and Joey tore down the hill - there was no path! Oh, Charlie, don't fall and hurt yourself! (On second thought, do, that way I can nurse you!) - and shouted loudly. Bollocks about the avalanche! I harrumphed and found myself craving a cigarette. I stepped gingerly down the slope - this thing did not look safe - and fished for my packet in one of my many pockets. Good thing I had taken them when I'd gone to get my boots. Lighting one with the tip of my wand, I jogged down, knees bent, until I reached the two of them.
Smoke curled around my head and I smiled.
"Oh, Merlin," whispered Joey. "Kate, put that out right now."
I must've looked completely confused, because he reiterated it, stronger, with anger I hadn't yet seen on his face. "Kate, put it out now."
"Okay, okay!" I dropped the cigarette to the icy ground and crushed it under my heel. "What's the big deal?"
A shadow suddenly covered the sky above me, and I felt a blast of warmth as Charlie and Joey both gripped my shoulders.
"That," Charlie said, "is the big deal."