A/N: Nothing much to say except that I'm starting a new fic and I'd really appreciate your reviews. Try not to rip this because I'm using Rowling's characters, but I've created their personalities based on my perception of them. For visual eye-candy, visit my webpage. Just pictorial musings, no fear. (It's still under massive construction though, I hate ads. Ergh.) Nothing more to say except I hope you enjoy.

Summary: This is a Flint/Bell romance, post-Hogwarts, post-War.

Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling's characters and blahblahblah, my musing.

The Agreement

"You're crazy."

There were some days she really thought she was; today was only one of many.

Katie Bell watched as her current co-worker, Charlie Weasley, mopped up the blood running down her right arm, trickling from a deep gash near her shoulder. Dragons tended to leave nasty scars. Luckily, she'd only gotten nicked. She bit her lip and braced herself for the liquid sting of the antibiotics. The pain faded in a few seconds but the initial contact was always agonizing, always.

"I got the sucker in the cage, didn't I?" Katie smiled grimly as Charlie wrapped her arm in filmy gauze.

"You're absolutely suicidal," Charlie sighed.

Probably, Katie thought quietly. There were days when she couldn't see the point in living, in facing a new morning, smiling another hollow, empty, useless smile. She hadn't had a full night's worth of sleep in six years. She hadn't been able to feel since that gruesome night either. She was as hollow as her smile, a superficial shell. She went through the motions, she said all the right things, and no one would have to know about the nightmares that kept her up at night.

Charlie was right; she was suicidal. Maybe that's the thrill she associated with chasing down and locking up malignant creatures. Maybe she was looking for death. She didn't think she'd care if it knocked on her door anyway. She was the best at what she did because she was fearless. She just didn't feel at all.

Katie had been the Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures (DRCMC) for nearly three years now, ever since the end of the War. The first thing she'd done in office was disband the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures and create a new division named the Committee for the Preservation of Endangered Creatures (CPEC). With the help of International Cooperation, Katie had been able to petition away at least five thousand acres of land worldwide for Creature Reservations, the two largest, of course, being in Zuwanga, Africa and Kukaburry, Australia. Surprisingly enough, the Medicine Men of Africa had been very enthusiastic about starting a preserve and chasing away the beasts that hounded the local magicking villages.

The CPEC organizations flourished under Katie's watchful eye. For the most part, funds were contrived through benefit donations and philanthropist contributions to "the good cause." Safari expeditions into the more dangerous parts of the reserves were also popular and provided a nice, fat paycheck. Excellent guides with only the best of training in cases of emergency were allowed to tote parties around the outback or safari.

After two years, Katie had resigned her post as the Head of the International Reservations Association (IRA). She'd made sure that the reservations were on their way to soaring success before she'd finalized her decision to move on. An overenthusiastic and resourceful Aussie named Gerbert Gilberton had eagerly accepted her offer to overtake her position. She, in the meantime, had decided to continue running DRCMC but had also become a fulltime Beast Control Agent (BCA). She received reports complaining about local wildlife from all over the world, tracked down the prodigal beasts, caught them and released them in one of her established reservations.

Like the dragon, the gnarly Tariki Tula Dragon that had managed to rip into her on its way into the barred cage.

"Where are we sending this one?" Charlie asked, interrupting her thoughts.

Charlie watched as her blue eyes slid slowly across his face. She seemed to wake from her reverie and look him in the face as if just noticing he was there. He'd grown accustomed to her silences though, and remained silent.

"The colony in Tangeria, file the paperwork and accompany it on the way back. It should be happy there," Katie said curtly.

She hopped off the gurney table, took a disgusted look at her arm, as if chiding herself for getting too close, and walked out of the tent. The hot African sun beamed down on her, splaying across her already tanned skin. She smiled at one of the hired natives that passed by the medi-tent. He was carrying a massive charming stick with him.

To anyone else, she would've looked like a beautiful, brilliant, successful magizoologist. She'd accomplished more than a lifetime's work by the age of twenty-six, especially after the War against the Dark Magics. She'd managed to pull herself out of the destruction and create a place for herself, a new life. 

Ah, the pleasantries of fantastically fake presumptions.

If anyone had told her ten years ago that her friends would be murdered at the age of nineteen, that her family would be obliterated by the age of twenty, that her husband would be dead at the age of twenty-one, and that she'd wake up wanting to kill herself every morning for the rest of her life… she would've laughed. She would laugh now at the irony, the unfairness, of it all. Too bad she gave that up six years ago, too.

"Missus Bahl, Kadee, sumwun is har to see yoo."

Katie looked up, shielding her eyes from the light with her nicked arm. Through the hired local's thick accent, she managed to make up what he was saying. Just then, she spotted a tall Wizard dressed in black khakis and a dark gray sweater sweep across the camp with an air of sophisticated supremacy.

Idiot, Katie thought distastefully. Wearing that kind of clothes in this weather, he'll have a stroke.

She caught sight of his face, his faded pair of glinting gray eyes, and stiffened reflexively.

Charlie emerged from the tent, his curiosity perked by the shouting. He looked up, narrowed his eyes in surprise, and braced himself behind Katie in an aggressive stance, his arms across his chest. Katie didn't need Charlie to tell her who it was though. She knew, in her every moment of painful living, barely scraping by, she knew who the demon was…

"Marcus Flint."

"What're you doing here?" Katie spat. Spite, pure hatred, couldn't even begin to describe how she felt towards Flint.

"Don't get your panties into a twist, Bell. I'm here on business," Flint said coldly, slightly amused.

Katie didn't like how he took up so much space. His nearness was causing her to feel nauseous. His wide shoulders blocked out the sun, leaving her in his shadow. Just like a Flint, leave the world to darkness as long as they're the ones blocking out the light. She stepped backwards unconsciously. He noted it and smiled knowingly at her.

"What exactly is your business?" Charlie asked from behind her.

"I'm a soon to be paying customer," Flint said to Bell, completely ignoring Weasley.

How he escaped Azkaban, she'd never know.

"Get it over with, Flint, or leave. You're aggravating my campsite," Katie snapped.

"I'm not aggravating anyone but you," Flint said matter-of-factly.

"Good day, Flint," Katie forced out, not even halfway civilly.

"I want to hire you as a tour guide," Flint drawled.

Katie looked at him in disbelief before she let out a sharp, staccato burst of laughter.

"If that's what you Apparated here for, you're wasting your time. They have professionals that do safari tours, you can get anyone. I'm not a puppet for the IRA anymore," Katie said.

"Ah, but that's the point. I don't want anyone. I want you, Bell. You built the Reservation and I only want to see the best. You do understand that I contribute heavily to the organization funds…" Flint let the weight of his words rest on Katie.

"I don't need your money," Katie retorted sharply.

"That's where you're wrong, Bell. Why don't you ask your good friend Gilberton? He was the one that owled me the request for a massive donation last week. Apparently, the funds are drying up. Or why don't you ask your assistant, Mr. Weasley? He knows," Flint said blandly.

"Don't be ridiculous. This is the downtime. There's nothing wrong with the funds," Katie felt herself getting riled.

"Fine. Don't take my word for it. Just don't come crawling back when your Reservation falls indebt to the Tangerian Government," he said.

Katie turned to Charlie. "What's all this rubbish about the Reservation?"

Charlie looked at her nervously and shifted his weight from side-to-side.

"You've got to be joking." Katie felt like someone had just punched her in the face. She turned around to see Flint's back disappearing through the camp towards the dragon holding cell.

"You've got to do what he wants, Katie. Zuwanga's going down. Gilberton's a shitty advisor and he was scared as all hells to tell you we needed the money," Charlie blurted.

"I am not touring with Marcus Flint!" Katie hissed.

"We need the money…"

Katie's lifework flashed before her eyes. The only thing she had left to cling to in life was her work. She couldn't let Flint strip that from her, too. Not after Oliver, not after what happened, she wouldn't let him ruin her life again.

"Flint!" Katie shouted. She sprinted after him, a thin trail of dust rising from her boots hitting the African sand.

Flint stopped in mid-stride and turned around.

He smirked at her and watched as she came to a screeching halt.

"If I play your bimbo guide, you'll give us the money to stay afloat." It was more of a statement than a question.

"That's the whole point of the expedition, Bell. To see if this reservation is really worth supporting," he said dryly.

"You do it or no deal," Katie argued scathingly.

"You're hardly in the position to barter," Flint drawled.

"Do it or no deal," she repeated.

"How about you tour me, show me what's so great about this forsaken desert, and convince me that my money is worth funding your precious little reservation?" Flint mused. He'd completely reversed the argument. How he'd gotten the upper hand, she didn't know. But as he stared down at her, his gray eyes flashing, she felt a horrible feeling of terror spread through her.

"Deal?" Flint asked, taking a step closer to her.

"You'll make that contribution," Katie ground out.

"Oh, really?"

Katie had enough common sense to keep her mouth shut.

"I see you've reverted back to your maiden name," Flint said with lazy interest.

"That's none of your business, Flint."

"But it is. Don't forget, I was the last one to see him alive."

With that, she snapped.

She'd caught him completely unaware and had never felt more satisfied than when her knuckles made contact with his precious, pretty-boy face. She hoped she'd broken his bloody nose.