A/N: Went a little American Dragon style on this, title wise, but I'm happy with the way it came out. Enjoy!

Posted: June 8, 2006

Chapter Twelve: Never Far

Oliver sobbed openly as he passed the cup to Harry. He had done it, had beaten Marcus, at his own bloody game, so why wasn't he happy? Oliver couldn't help but ask himself as he realized the tears he shed weren't ones of joy as they should have been.

He then looked across the pitch, as best as he could, as the crowd surrounding the winning team began to grow. He was then able to see the defeated Slytherin team as they tread off to their locker room to lick their wounds. Oliver was then surprised as Marcus looked his way and did the last thing he ever expected of him at this moment, he smiled. He gave Oliver a pure and genuine smile. Oliver then watched as Marcus fell into step behind the rest of his team.

Oliver sat alone within his office located in the Gryffindor locker room. He stared at the cup in front of him. "Why aren't I happy?" he asked himself out loud as he reached out and touched it just to make sure it was real before he had to go put it in the trophy room for his House. He then began to wonder why he had worked so hard for this moment and as he sat there he remembered Marcus' words from just a few months ago. . .

"I don't even recognize you anymore."

. . . and then some of his own words.


When had he become so blind and cruel? Issuing an order that was even beneath Marcus?

Had he changed that much?

"This wasn't you! This wasn't us!"

Oliver scoffed at the memory. What the hell had Marcus been talking about? Of course Quidditch was them, it had always been them. Always! From the day they met until the day. . . Oliver pushed the cup to the side before resting his elbows on the desk and his head in his hands.

"We were brothers once, but that didn't matter to you, did it?"

Marcus would never understand, it did matter. It was the only thing that mattered. . . and it was the reason he couldn't stay with the Flints. Oliver's excuse was his mother, he wanted so badly to believe that the two of them could be a family, but after truly experiencing what that was, Oliver knew he would never have it. His mother loved him, he knew, but not enough keep her promise. It lasted about a week, and it was the happiest he could ever imagine being, but then things started to fall back into place of what they used to be and he resented her for it.

He was alone again, well not really, more like passed off. He sent a lot of time with his grandparents and his aunts and uncles. And when Siliva was home, she was always taking that Muggle medication of hers to point where she was making herself sick. Oliver tried to help her, but it was useless as he just grew more angry at her.

Being of age, he finally threw in the towel. He told her he didn't want to live like this anymore before packing his bags and leaving. Siliva, yelled and cried for Oliver to stay, telling him that she was his son and that he had to stay. Oliver remembered turning to her as he stood with the door opened, ready to leave and said, "So, now you finally understand what's it like to be the one begging."

His grandfather, knowing of his daughter's 'condition' understood Oliver and helped him find a place of his own, which he would help out with until he could pay for it on his own. Oliver didn't know why, but when his grandfather told him this, he broke down and cried, it had been so long since he had someone to depend on.

Oliver finally rose his head from his hands, noticing for the first time that he was still in his Quidditch gear. He sighed as he stood up and headed out of his office to his locker to change. His teammates were already gone and probably preparing a big celebration in the common room. Oliver wasn't very much up to that and so took his time as he undressed and headed to the showers to rinse the day off his body.

The water, which was a notch to high for Oliver, stung as it rained again his skin with a pressure that caused his flesh to redden as he bathed beneath it. Then suddenly, weak from the day, the brown headed boy fell slowly to his knees, his hands on the wall as he lowered his head and closed his eyes.

"I'm happy for you." Oliver's head snapped up when he heard the voice at the end of the shower room.

"Flint?" he spoke softly as he stood back up to turn off the water. "It's called knocking," Oliver said harshly as he wrapped a towel around his naked body. "What are you doing here anyway?"

Marcus turned his head as Oliver slightly began to approach him. "Only to say congratulations," he began, a slow yet bitter smile appearing on his face. "You're better than me in every way possible."

Oliver chuckled softly as he leaned over and grabbed a clean towel from beside Marcus, causing the other to once again look at him before running the towel though his hair. "Yeah, that's believable. My team won out there by the skin of their teeth. We got lucky today. . . you're still the better player," he admitted begrudgingly.

"It's not about you and me," Marcus told him. "It was a team effort out there and that's what you have." As he spoke Oliver realized that Marcus' breath was heavy, and his chest rose up and down rapidly.

"Have you been running?" Oliver asked, completely missing the other's last statement. "Did you run down here?" He wondered what would possess him to do such a thing.

Marcus than once again averted his eyes as his lip pursed together and his hand dug into his robes. Suspicious, Oliver took a step back, wondering if Marcus was going to pull out his wand and attack him when he was defenseless. Oliver then blinked rapidly in confusion as Marcus took out nothing more than a letter with the Flint family seal upon it, which was broken. "I-" Marcus' voice shook. "I- couldn't read it beyond the first sentence. It's from mum. . . about Chelsie," he shook his head. "I didn't like the way it began and I-" He swallowed hard as he was determined to keep some type of dignity as he countinued. "And I didn't want to read it alone."

He then once again made eye contact with Oliver. "You're the only one here who can understand how I feel." Marcus turned his head as he wiped away tears with the palm of his hand. "After dad was-" he didn't want to finish that statement, which caused a deep seeded emotion of guilt to wash over Oliver. He knew what his mother had done. She had killed the only father he and Marcus had ever known.

"It's been a hard year for me and mum," Marcus admitted. "And I don't think I'm ready to read this." Marcus then held out his shaking hand out to Oliver so that he could take the letter. Oliver only stared at it. "Ollie. . ." Oliver expression was one of shock and surprise as he heard the nickname he had almost forgotten. "Please," he begged of him, now not caring that Oliver saw his tears. "I- I just can't."

Oliver eyes never left Marcus' as he realized he needed to be the strong one. Marcus needed that of him and so Oliver reached out and took the letter from the other's hand and opened it. He took a deep breath before lowering his head and reading the letter.

Marcus watched the other intensely as Oliver's eyes scanned the letter quickly from one side to the other. He watched as Oliver gasped loudly and covered his mouth with his hand as he continued to read. Marcus felt his heart grow large within his chest, as it longed to break free as he saw Oliver's tears. He slowly took a step back as he shook his head from side to side in disbelief.

Marcus wanted to run. He knew he wouldn't be able to take what Oliver was bound to tell him as he finally lowered the letter and then his hand from his mouth. "Mar-Mar-" Oliver tried to begin.

"No!" Marcus cut him off while taking another step back. "I know what you're going say. I can see it in your eyes." Marcus turned ready to leave the locker room as fast as he could, but was stopped when Oliver reached out and grabbed him. Marcus sobbed painfully as Oliver pulled him into his arms. He clung on to the Gryffindor as he lowered them both to the cold tiled floor of the shower room.

Oliver stoked the raven headed boy gently. "She's awake," he said though his tears, Marcus now realizing that Oliver's tears were ones of joy.

Marcus froze for a moment sniffing a little before he was able to speak. "What did you say?" he asked, on the verge of losing it again as he thought his mind was playing with him, allowing him to hear what he had desperately been wanting to hear for years.

Oliver took a hold of Marcus' shoulders and pushed him far away enough so that he could look upon his face. Oliver wanted him to see his smile as he repeated the words. "She's awake. Chelsie is awake. . . and she asked to see her brothers."

Marcus' looked dumbfounded. He had been expecting the worst, so much so, that it took his mind a moment to process the news. "She's not- she's not dead?" He had to make sure this wasn't a dream.

"No," Oliver confirmed before he finally saw Marcus' blue eyes brighten, still filled with unshed tears, and a smile spread across his lips. He exhaled as he lowered his head on to Oliver's shoulder and began to cry again. Oliver only held him tighter and as he did he was reminded of when he first went to go live with the Flints.

"See this, Ollie? This is never far, this will always be here. . . if only you choose to accept it."

"I'm sorry," Oliver suddenly whispered. "I hurt so many people. People I never meant to hurt," he confessed. "I'm so sorry."

Marcus pulled away as Oliver's hold on him loosen and his face felt with shame. Marcus dried his face before he spoke. "Took you long enough, didn't it?"

Oliver smiled as he knew that was Marcus' way of saying he was forgiven. "Yeah, it did." His smile then slowly slipped away as he drew closer to Marcus and placed a simply, gentle kiss upon his lips. "You were right, you know," he spoke with his eyes closed. "That very first kiss. . . I enjoyed it," he finally told him.

Marcus smiled back at him. "I knew it," he teased. "You were just too defensive about it."

"I gave myself away, huh?" he asked not really expecting an answer before he went to kiss Marcus again, but was taken by surprised when Marcus pulled away.

Seeing the rejected look on his face, Marcus went to offer a quick response, but the words escaped him. Oliver cast his eyes downward as he completely moved away from Marcus. The raven haired boy eye's grew wide, "I didn't mean it like that," he finally blurted out. "It's just that-" he didn't know how to begin. He was afraid that if he said the wrong thing, he would lose Oliver all over again, and he didn't want to do that, when they seemed so close to getting back on track. "Me and- I with-"

"Higgs," Oliver somehow sense what the other was trying to say.

"Yeah," Marcus breathed. "I went to see him at the end of last summer and we worked things out," he explained. "We're in a good place now and I don't want to jeopardize that," he told him.

Oliver nodded in understanding. He somehow always knew that there was more to the two Slytherins then what appeared on the surface. "So, need help with your N.E.W.T.s?" he asked with a smile.

"That would be great," Marcus told him as they both began to rise from the floor and head back to the locker area. "Dammit!" Marcus seem to say out of nowhere.

"What?" Oliver looked confused.

"Chelsie is not going to believe you beat me in a fair game," he told him.

"Fair!" Oliver said in mock outrage. "You pulled out every dirty trick in the book this year. You even took advantage of a player's injury to get out of playing in the rain!"

Marcus threw his head back and laughed as he put an arm around Oliver shoulders. "God, that was hella funny. You should have seen your face. 'That's not possible!'" He laughed again.

Oliver sulked. "I don't sound like that." He tried to hold his angry expression, but couldn't as Marcus' joy and laughter were contiguous.

Oliver then looked to Marcus in a bit of an awe. They had been at odds for so long, but now, at this moment, if felt like they had always been together, that they had always been brothers. Oliver had been running from it for so long, not believing he deserved what the Flints were trying to offer him, but now he saw that he offered them something too, and for all the doubts that he had, he now saw there was no need for it. Because when it came down to it, even at odds, the pact that they had made still stood strong, because no matter where each of them stood, the other. . . was never far.


A/N: Can you believe it? A happy ending. . . or at least as much as a happy ending that I can do. I'm still kind of new at it so please forgive me. -Blush-