Scars: Their Stories

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This story is dedicated to MandyinKC, for giving me the idea in a lovely review she left on my story, Scars. This is very loosely based on that story, though they both stand alone. Basically, this takes the following lines from that fic and builds it into what I hope will be a post-war character study sort of thing with a lot of different characters featured through Charlie's eyes.

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"Scars have always been the first thing Charlie notices about people – because scars can tell a lot about a person. Depending on how many there are, where they are, and what kind they are, Charlie can get a pretty decent reading on a person before the first word out of his or her mouth."

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It is also for the Alphabet Challenge on HPFC - drabbles A-Z. Some prompts are from the challenge, and some are my own.

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A is also for HedwigBlack's Weekly Challenge, which is Weasley Appreciation this week.

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Updates will be sporadic at best, just so you're aware.

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I apologize for the ridiculous length of this author's note.

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A - Aftermath.

Charlie takes in a deep breath and finally allows himself to collapse against the wall. He stares out into the Great Hall, still filled with too many lives cut short.

He cannot cry. Not right now, anyway. He's certain that he will later, when it all truly sinks in, but for now he is just vacant. Relieved, though he hates to admit it. It''s over. It's done.

Now they just have to live with the aftermath.

Charlie drops his head against the wall behind him, sighing. How is it fair that one madman could cause so much destruction? he wonders. And Charlie knows full well that he hasn't even seen all of it. He spent much of the war still cocooned in Romania, with his dragons.

It doesn't matter how much he tells himself that the rest of the world couldn't just stop for the war. Charlie knows that the Reserve would have kept going without him. He knows that he should have been here, home, when they needed him.

He knows that he will have to carry that guilt for a long time.

Katie Bell sinks down against the wall beside him. "Horrible, isn't it?" she asks, and Charlie can tell that she doesn't need an answer. Still, he nods bleakly.

She turns toward him, and Merlin, her eyes are haunted.

"You all right, Char?" she asks him, his old nickname rolling easily off her lips despite the fact that he hasn't seen him in years.

And Charlie refuses to lie and say yes. "I will be."

She nods, and as she does, her brown hair swirls and Charlie catches sight of a mark.

Without thinking, because it's just Katie, he uses a hand to push away the hair on one side, exposing her neck.

She flinches away, and Charlie retracts his hand immediately, apologetic. He has already seen it, though. The skin around her neck is blistered in a red ring: a burn scar, about a year old, by Charlie's reckoning – and he's quite familiar with the healing stages of burns, really.

Her gaze is now planted firmly on her hands, clasped atop her bent knees.

"Katie, what happened?"

Her voice lacks any emotion as she says, "Cursed necklaces are peculiar things. Apparently it doesn't actually matter where you touch it – it always burns your neck."

Charlie shifts a little closer, but not close enough to touch. "Katie…"

Her gaze snaps up, her brown eyes blazing. "I was used, Charlie. He used the Imperious Curse, and he used me." She laughs bitterly. "But I got him back." She grins and it's almost scary. "More than once, I landed a hex on him today."

And that's the fiery Katie that Charlie is used to.

"Who was it, Kates?"

She meets his eyes, her own as icy as her voice. "Malfoy."

Fiery Katie Bell is haunted and vengeful. Charlie cannot help but wonder who else has changed in the time he's been gone. Who else has new scars.