Disclaimer: Not mine.


Gideon's Regret


He sat on the edge of the bed and leaned over to tug one of his boots on. Glancing over his shoulder at her, he then reached for the second, unsure what to say. She looked fine, lying on her back, the sheet languidly draped across her hips, leaving her breasts and legs bare as she stretched her arms to the headboard, pointed her toes toward the foot of the bed and arched her back. She reminded him of a cat before it opens its eyes to greet the day.

"Guess if I hurry I can still make it on time," she yawned, clutching at the sheet to hide her nakedness as she sat up and slid to her side of the bed without looking at him.

"I am sorry Pet," he muttered pulling on his other boot. "I didn't know.'

"You weren't supposed to." She chuckled in that deep-throated way that had first made him notice her. "It's fine, really it is. Course would've been better to have had more time to get ready for work. Should have been up and out already."

"I can meet you after your shift, dinner and all."

"I don't know. I've got a double today, going to be knackered." She stood up, pulled on her knickers, and then snapped on her bra before turning back to him. "Don't worry about it."

"Marlene, the first time should be… well, special I guess." He frowned and walked around the bed to her.

"It was." She avoided his eyes as she pulled her jeans on and slipped her bare feet into dirty trainers. "I wanted this as much as you did. Don't need to feel guilty over it."

"Then damn it, at least look at me," he hissed as he ran his hands through his hair

Continuing to dress, she pulled a dark green ribbed jumper over her head and smoothed down the knitted garment. Her hands seemed unsteady as she pulled her hair back; securing it with the band she had slipped on to her wrist the night before after she released it from the ponytail she always wore.

"I'll be late for …"

"You should have told me. I could have done things differently."

She looked up at him and smirked. "I may not be experienced but I think you did just fine."

"No," he looked at her exasperated. "I mean, I could have waited a while longer, gone slower, and not been so rough. You didn't even…"

"Listen," she whispered and raised her hand to his cheek. "I wanted the first time to be exactly what it was. So don't get all soft and mushy on me. I just … leave it go, it was fine, no regrets."

"I regret it," he said into her palm before he kissed it. "You should have had more."

"More?" She raised her eyebrow at him and smirked.

"You know what I mean."

"I am already going to be late. Listen, tell Fabian sorry about last night… I didn't mean to kick him out." She began to turn toward the door only to have him grab her elbow and pull her back.

"Marlene, call off today. Tell them you're sick. Tell them anything, but stay. Don't go in today, beg off, tell them..."

"Why ever not, Gideon? What should I tell them? My… not boyfriend… lover?… no, I have it. My one-night stand wants another go at it. I don't think so sugar, I think I best get home to hit the shower and change."

"Don't ever call me that." He grabbed her shoulders and fought not to shake her. "If you thought for one minute that was true you wouldn't be here. I know it and you know it."

"I'm sorry," she whispered. "It's going to be a big day and I need to get you out of my head."

"Leave from here. I can get your clothes cleaned up while you are in the shower and have some breakfast ready. At least you should eat before heading off. They should have called the Order in on this one, you should have insisted."

"You make breakfast?" She grinned nervously, letting the rest of his comments hang in the air, unanswered.

"Do I make breakfast? No one fries an egg like me. Sometimes I even manage not to burn them."

"Tell you what, maybe next time, okay?"

Silence spun between them until she turned and left the bedroom stopping at the front door to release the wards.

"Marlene, please. Wait." He hurried behind her, rested his hands on her shoulders and leaned down to her ear. "I can't let you go without knowing when I will see you again. I…we need to talk."

"I'll be in touch Gideon it's not…."

"In touch?" He spun her around to see her face. "What do you think I brought you back here for? Do you think all I wanted was a one-time fuck? Marlene, I want you. I may not know how to do this… this morning after thing so well, but you need to understand I didn't just decide to …to… "

She swallowed hard and nodded, still not able to meet his eyes. "Dinner would be nice, but I don't get off until eleven."

"I'll collect you in the lobby."

"Gideon, you don't have to…"

"Stop," he sighed. "I want to. Got it? I want to."

She looked up at him at last. Seeing the concern and worry in his face. She nodded, unsure of how to act. Suddenly unsure if this was what she wanted it to be, unsure if he were sincere or if it was just how things went after spending the night in a man's bed.

"I'll see you then."

Gideon released her shoulders and let her walk out, closing the door behind her. He felt the fool. She was an Auror for Merlin's sake. She was not as old as he, but almost as old as Fabian and clearly not sheltered or naive. He had made it a summertime goal to bed the witch. Now, he looked at the closed door and wondered how he could have been so damned stupid to miss the clues before he let himself go so far that he didn't want to find his way back.

He remembered seeing her that first time, the first time he really saw her. Sitting against the wall, yawning and trying to ignore the posturing of the younger members at the meeting whom had no idea of what they were getting into. Catching her eye, he winked and saw the blush that crawled slowly up her neck until it flushed her cheeks and seemed to make her eyes shine. That was when he decided to set his goal and when his game had started.

Then he wondered, when had it stopped being a game?

He was frying eggs and letting the water heat for tea when he heard the wards drop and knew Fabian had returned. Reaching for the carton, he took out two more eggs and cracked them into the hot skillet.

"Nothing smells better than bacon in the morning." Fabian grinned. "Problem here being there is no bacon."

"Eggs," Gideon muttered. "If you want toast put it in."

Fabian started to help make the toast as Gideon measured the tea into the pot and poured the hot water over the loose leaves.

"So, how many plates am I taking down?" Fabian reached up in the cupboard and paused, waiting for an answer that never came. "Two I take it."

"Shut up."

"What'd I say?"

"Just shut up," Gideon sat down at the table, leaving Fabian to pour the tea and plate the eggs.

He pushed his breakfast away when the plate appeared in front of him and grabbed his cup. Two sips later, the cup joined the eggs, growing cold between the two brothers.

"Thought you would be in a better mood." Fabian bent his head over his breakfast.

"Work, she has a double today if that's what you're asking."

"Saw you two leave the party about three." Fabian shrugged. "She was out kind-a late knowing she had a double today. It surprised me that she didn't head home after the meeting."

Gideon stared at the tabletop wondering that she had said nothing about the lateness of the hour or the fact that they had not even left for the party until nearly midnight. His right hand drew circles in the wet ring left by the teacup until he rose and threw his plate in the sink, hearing the china break with a loud crack. Her voice played in his head. I wanted the first time to be exactly what it was

"You really fancy her?"

Gideon picked up his cup and put it in the sink more carefully, feeling nauseous as he looked at the uneaten eggs mixed with broken dishes, that he had not said something more to her. The unanswered question hung in the air as if unheard. Fabian glanced up and frowned at his brothers back.

"Well?"

"I don't know," Gideon rested his arms on the edge of the sink and stood staring into the broken mess. "I just know that if she… I don't know."

"She'll be ok. Rumour is Moody's group is going in with them." He watched Gideon nod and walk out of the room.

After he had finished dressing Gideon grabbed his robes and left the apartment unsure where to go this early but knowing he needed to be out, needed to walk, needed to be around people. Needed it to be night, eleven, and time to meet her for dinner.

Marlene skipped breakfast. If she hurried, she could just make it on time. She was accustomed to working with little sleep. At times, she had a little hangover, at others she still felt the buzz from the night before. Today however, her head was clear. She could not afford to show weakness. Today things would finally happen and the work of the past eight months would pay off. Today her division would take the first line of attack in bringing down one of Riddle's safe houses. Today she would forget last night and concentrate on the here and now.

It was getting harder to separate her life into the neat little compartments on hard-to-reach shelves she used to hide things on. One shelf held the family that Riddle had already taken from her. Another, her work, and set against the back wall, on the topmost shelf, sat a small black box that she'd hidden him away in. Only the box was getting too small and spilling over. He invaded her thoughts at work and became her focus at the secret meetings. He made it difficult to breathe and harder still not to want.

She had worked hard at the Ministry. Often taking double shifts, spending them hiding, always watching, always keeping silent and quiet. She slipped an extra wand in her boot and one in the waistband at the small of her back, shoving the registered one up her sleeve. Patting her pocket to make sure she held the portkeys, she pulled her hair back into its normal ponytail and then twisted it to a knot, securing it with yet another wand. Today the waiting ended.

Gideon walked through Diagon Alley on his way to work. He shoved his hands in his pockets, put his head down, and kept his eyes on the pavement. He thought of the new lobby that the Ministry was planning and at once started the rhythm of his day. He didn't need blueprints and slide rules to see what he planned to do. He needed to see the plans in his mind. He needed to see the floor's black marble, see how it would fit with the white veined stone that would make up the occasional benches and the fountain area. He needed to see how the light would filter down and bathe the grand space, and hear the sounds that would echo to the lofty heights of the new ceiling he was still unable to get just right. By the time he slid onto the high stool in front of his workstation, he was already deep in thought and ready to attack the problem of fitting his dreams to their budget again.

He didn't look up again until a white takeaway container was pushed under his nose, and the smell of coffee hit his nostrils.

"You need to eat."

"Hey there kid," he smiled. "What brings you here today?"

She smiled widely and patted her swollen belly. "Midwife says any day now."

"Shite," he muttered. "I have the plans here some place. Hold on."

He slid off the stool and walked to the corner, picking up one of the long cylinders. Opening it, he pulled out her blueprints and spread them on top of the one that he was working on.

"It's far from done, but I have the upstairs planned out."

Molly leaned over the workbench and scowled. "I don't see it."

"Here" He laughed, pointing to the part that he had completed. "Stairs off the kitchen, see? The rest, the attic, the sitting room, they can all be added later but this will get you through. It'll give those nephews of mine two more bedrooms."

"How much do you think it will cost?" She bit her lip and frowned.

"It should come in about 500 galleons less than Arthur budgeted if you keep the stairs where I put them instead of by the back door, and keep the kitchen the size it is for now. If I change it all you'll be a couple thousand short."

"I knew we should have just gotten a bigger place from the beginning," she sighed. "I really wanted to add on to the kitchen. There's not enough cupboard space now."

"That can always be done later." He grinned and rolled up the plans. "Here, take these to your contractor. Tell him the rest will be done as soon as you can afford more."

Marlene stood with her back against the outside wall, nodding to her partner that she was ready. Wand in hand she tensed, knowing that it was the next few seconds that would determine the outcome.

"I am fixing lamb tonight. Fabian said he can make it."

"I'll let you know."

"That means no. What do I tell the boys this time?" she sighed. "Just dinner and you can leave. I won't make you stay."

"I… I have a date for later, but I guess it would be okay."

Her partner kicked in the door to make as much noise as possible as the Aurors at the back cast quiet Alohomora spells. Marlene nodded and spun around to run into the manor, feeling her wand at once pulled from her hand and her body thrown backwards.

"Ah," Molly ginned. "It's not even a weekend and my big brother has a late date?"

"Watch it Sis, I've already had enough today."

"Lovers quarrel?"

Gideon looked at her wondering how much to tell, wanting to confide in her. Needing to say aloud what he so badly wanted.

She gasped and sat up as her hand went instinctively to her boot, pulling out the wand as she began to roll to the side. She saw no trace of her partner. Rising to a crouch, she made her way back to the door. Back to where she could hear the screams and curses.

"Molly, what would you say if I told you I want to get married?"

"Gideon," Molly squealed and threw her arms around his neck. "Who? When? Where? Can we have it at the Burrow? Oh my gods Gideon, I am so happy for you."

"Whoa girl," he chuckled. "I still have to ask her."

"You fool," she frowned. "What are you sitting here for?"

"She is working a double, she gets off at eleven."

"Marlene?" She asked, answered only by his nod.

Raising her wand in the direction of the masked Death Eater, she threw up a shield and tried to make it to the Auror that lay on the floor. She did not take her eyes off the half-silver mask, trying to discern who it was. Masks, she thought.

Masks weren't worn at home, in a safe house. She cursed and squatted down to feel for his pulse, knowing he was dead but needing to follow procedure. They knew. They'd been warned. They had slipped on their robes and masks, setting a trap, knowing now was the time that the Aurors would be slaughtered.

"Bastard," she hissed. "Who is it? Who told you?"

She stood, planted her feet firmly and pointed her wand.

"She has that big case today. I didn't want …and I wanted to ask you… well, Mums old ring. You don't wear it."

"No, because she wanted you or Fabian to use it." He eyes began to fill. "Ah, Gideon, she would be so happy for you. Do you really love her?"

"When she walks in a room she takes my breath away, when she leaves I want to lock her up to keep her safe. My god's woman, I just told you I want to marry her."

"You should have asked her first," Molly said grinning.

"I know, I know…," he laughed, "I am sure I will regret telling you first someday."

She heard him chuckle and saw him slowly raise his wand as her own flew from her hand and sailed to the second Death Eater that had crept up behind her. Spinning to face him she left her back exposed and did not see the green light that came hurling toward her.

Staring into the blue eyes of the Death Eater's mask, she slid to the floor, imagining his mask morphing into a face. A face she had pulled down into her arms as it had been above her. A face that had lowered gently to hers and lips that whispered in her ear.

"I love you, Marlene. Gods, I have waited for you so long. I can't wait anymore."