This is my longest chapter yet, I think. For the Long Haul VI on HPFC!
seven swans a swimming
"Mel! You are an evil person!" Lizzie said as her friend came back the next afternoon. "You left me hanging like that? Just ended the reading with the man in black saying 'As you wish?'"
"Well, that was the end of the chapter and I had to go."
"I came back, didn't I? Anyways, do you want to argue or read?"
"Read. Definitely read."
Katie felt as if her heart had stopped. She hadn't heard those words in five years. And that voice. It was just as warm as she remembered. He'd slipped back into the Scottish brogue as easily as if it were water.
Still, she wasn't quite sure she could believe what her ears were telling her. If it wasn't him... She didn't think her heart could stand that break again.
He reached up and slowly removed the black mask that had covered his face and hair.
It was him. Really, truly him. His face looked almost the same, perhaps a shade more brown and slightly weathered. He was leaner than she remembered, as if he hadn't had quite enough to eat, but still muscular.
The eyes were the same green that had often twinkled at her in her dreams.
She wasn't quite sure how she got there, but suddenly she had flown into his arms. They were wrapped around her just as tightly as she remembered, and she still fit perfectly against his chest.
"It's really you," she whispered, her face buried in his shoulder. She pulled back to look him in the eyes. "It's really you."
And then, she smacked him in the chest.
"Ow! What was that for?"
"How dare you go missing like that? I thought you were dead! You were gone for five years! Five whole years!"
"I broke my heart over you! You couldn't send word that you were still alive? I could have done something. Rescued you, or gotten help, or even told Harry, he owes me enough favors. I can't believe you!"
"Katie, I'm so—"
"Shut up," she muttered. She grabbed the front of his shirt and yanked him down, pulling his lips to hers.
He made a small noise of surprise before deepening the kiss, his arms trailing down her back to settle at her waist. When they finally broke apart, he looked at her with a small goofy smile on his lips.
"And what was that for?"
"Coming back to me," she whispered, before standing on her tip toes and kissing him again.
Their kiss was interrupted by a shout, and they both looked skyward.
"Shit," Oliver muttered. "That's probably Davies' men. Katie, come on!" He grabbed her hand and dragged her into the darkest part of the forest.
"Oliver, this is the Ballyboley Forest!"
"Yea, I know," he said, gripping her hand and dragging her through the trees. Behind them, the shouts and footsteps of the men were growing quieter.
"So this forest is haunted. There are ghouls and centaurs and really dangerous creatures in here! People who come into this section of the forest go missing!"
He stopped, gripping her hands and looking her in the eyes. "Do you trust me?"
"I—yes. Yes, I trust you."
"Then follow me. I know where we're going." They set out again, walking comfortably, their hands still clasped. "I've been through this forest before. Recently, actually. When I went to your apartment and saw the "For Sale" sign, I realized you must have moved somewhere. With all our old Puddlemere contacts practically gone, I thought I'd see if any of the Harpies knew where you were. I didn't want people to know I was still alive, though, so I came through the forest the back way. This way."
"Oliver, you're insane."
"Why didn't you just send me an owl like a normal person?"
"Katie, if you'd gotten a letter from a person claiming to be me, would you have believed it?"
"No, I guess not."
"Exactly. So I cut through here. I know a secret exit. Oh, and I'm great friends with the head centaur, Tristan. He's really into Celestina Warbeck."
Katie shook her head, her thoughts spinning in confusion. "I don't—How did you even survive?"
Oliver went quiet. "So... we're having this conversation now?"
"Yea, I think it's time. Actually, I think it's about five years overdue."
He shifted uncomfortably, but Katie just gripped his hand tighter, turning him to face her. "Oliver, it's been five years. At this point, I don't care what you had to do. I don't care if you had to kill someone, or fuck a hundred girls, or join some weird cult thing. I just care that you're alive. So please. Just—tell me the truth?"
Oliver nodded, gripping her hand and resumed their walking. "Well, I didn't have to fuck a hundred girls to get back to you," he started, and she heaved a huge sigh of relief.
"Oh, thank Merlin, I thought I was going to have to hunt down all those girls and punch them for screwing my fiancé."
He smiled. "Nah. I was in the bathroom when the bomb exploded on the plane. That's why I managed to survive. I heard the screams of fear and Disapparated. I didn't even think of where to go, I just thought of the safest place. I landed on a ship in the middle of the ocean. The ship of the Dread Pirate Roberts, actually."
"Wait, he's real?"
"Yea, except he's a Muggle. He's not the one who took down our plane. He's just a normal pirate, I guess."
"Oh. So why didn't you Disapparate? At that point, I say screw the Ministry's secrecy laws."
Oliver chuckled. "I was weakened and I had no idea how far I could Disapparate. The pirates all saw me appear on their ship and I convinced them I was sent by the sea god to help them in their conquests. They were going to kill me before I showed them that I could do magic."
"So what did you do?"
"I worked my way up from the bottom. I helped in any way, hoping to earn my freedom. I made up some bollocks story about how I'd fallen in love with a mortal girl and the sea god promised me my freedom if I served them. I worked my way up until I was named the new Dread Pirate Roberts."
Katie stopped again.
"Wait, the new Dread Pirate Roberts?!"
"Yea, turns out it's a name! The original Roberts decided that instead of retiring and leaving the seas behind, he'd secretly switch places with the next captain, have the new man keep his name and his reputation, and then leave with his wealth. It's actually really brilliant. Except for the part where the new Roberts has to kill his entire crew and get new men, so as to keep the secret. So after five years of sailing on the seas with these pirates, the captain wanted to name me the new Roberts."
"Oh, Oliver!" Katie's hands flew to her mouth to stifle her gasp. "Did you have to kill all those men?"
He smiled at her and resumed their walk. "Actually, no. I was supposed to, but I just told the old captain, 'I don't think my mortal girl would like that I killed them. Perhaps I could work some of my magic and solve the problem a different way? I showed him a simple memory charm and he was on board in moments. As soon as I was under control, I started looking for you. I sailed back to England and started asking around until I found out about the plot to kill you. And then I came to rescue you."
She leaned into him, smiling as his arm rested comfortably around her waist. "I can take care of myself."
"But I'm glad you still have my back."
He leaned down and kissed her softly. "I will always have your back."
They kept walking and talking, Katie catching Oliver up on her five years, until they finally reached the Harpies stadium.
"Oliver, we're here! We'll just go in, find Ginny, and get you to Harry. I'm sure they'll have to question you a bit to make sure it's really you, but then we can go home!" she said, eyes shining. She leaned in and kissed him, reveling in the feeling of his lips on hers once more. They were so different from Davies' kisses. His had been cold and short, with no passion, only obligation. Oliver's felt like the sun had burst from behind a cloud after a rainstorm.
"Katie, I love you so m—"
"STOP! THAT IS MY FIANCÉE"
Oliver and Katie whirled around, both drawing their wands, immediately falling into a fighting stance back to back. They were surrounded by Davies' men.
"How dare you kidnap my fiancée, and then defile her like that!" Davies yelled, leaping from his broom and marching forward. He raised his wand, and Katie scrambled between them.
"Davies! Roger! Please, it's not what you think!"
"So you weren't kidnapped?"
"Yes, I was, but not by him. He rescued me!"
"Rescued you? And now I find you cheating on me with him? How dare you, Katie!"
"No, Roger, it's Oliver."
Davies paused. "Oliver? Oliver Wood?!"
"Yes. Yes, it's Oliver Wood. And, I'm sorry, but I...I just can't marry you. Not while Oliver is alive."
Davies sighed, raising his wand once more. "Then I guess he can't be alive."
"Katie, I need to marry you. I'm sorry, but I'm doing the smartest thing for myself. As far as anyone knows, Oliver isn't alive. I just have to kill him and wipe your memory, and everything will be fine. I'm really sorry about this, Wood. For a Gryffindor, I really did enjoy your company back in the day."
"No! No, Roger wait! I—I'll marry you! If you'll just let Oliver live. Please. I can't bear to lose him again."
"Katie? No, Katie, don't." Oliver grabbed her hand, but she refused to look at him.
"I will marry you, but Oliver has to be set free. You can't hurt him. Please. Just don't hurt him."
Davies nodded. "Fine. I'll give you a moment to say goodbye to him. Then you'll come with me and I'll have Flint here escort him back to wherever he needs to go."
Katie turned to Oliver. "I'm sorry. I can't let you die."
"It's my turn to rescue you," she whispered. "I love you. Remember that, ok? I will always love you, and only you. No matter what happens."
He nodded, then leaned in and kissed her softly. Katie felt tears welling up in her eyes at that. This kiss was too similar to the one he gave her the last time he left. It was a kiss filled with goodbye.
"It's time to go, Katie."
She nodded, slinging her small satchel over her head once more and climbing onto the broom behind Davies. Oliver watched as the only girl he'd ever loved rose higher into the sky, until she was no more than a small speck against the sky.
Then she was gone.
"Well, Wood. It's time."
"You're not taking me back to my ship, are you?"
"No. You're smarter than you look."
"I spent half of my years at Hogwarts studying you and Davies. Your behavior, your tactics, everything. Davies is too smart to leave me alive when I pose a risk to his political marriage."
Flint shrugged. "True. But he's going to want to talk to you before he kills you. Let's get this over with."
He raised his wand, gripping it with all six fingers. Oliver noticed the tail end of a Death Eater tattoo beneath his sleeve.
"Hang on. You fought for the Death Eaters in the war? I thought you and your family laid low during the Battle and got off in the trials."
Flint grinned. "My parents did, and said I was with them the entire night. But I was at the battle. Pity Moldy-Voldy didn't win, but it doesn't matter. As long as I've got money and power, I don't care who's in control."
Oliver's mind flashed back to Fred's words. The anger behind them, the revenge...He wouldn't rest.
"Well, you should know, someone wants you dead."
"Who doesn't? Now, let's get this over with."
And with a silent Stunning spell, Oliver collapsed to the ground, unconscious.