Enclosed are the terms and agreements to your signing with the Tutshill Tornadoes, set to being on 1 July 1994. You will also find your accommodations arrangement with one [Connor O’Rourke] contract, set to be provided upon your arrival in Tutshill . . .
Marcus had been living in a dreamlike state for the past two months, the contract drawn and signed that placed him as a chaser for the Tutshill Tornados the moment he left Hogwarts. Every day he waited for the ball to drop, that there was no need for his internal struggle if he was doing the right thing because they changed their mind and didn’t want him.
Who would want a failure?
For five months he had been going back and forth on his decision, Tutshill thinking his resistance was because of another offer and upped their incentive for him to sign. He hesitated because of Olivia, the moment he shared the news they had approached him, things had become strained between the siblings. There was only so long he could get away with ‘I’m not sure’, ‘I’m still thinking about it’, and the constant ‘maybe’ that he used every time it was brought up.
He half wished he never told her about the offer, but it was lonely celebrating lifelong goals alone. She had always been there for him, cheered him on for every match and, stupidly, he believed this would have been the same.
When he signed the contract, Marcus buried the news deep within himself where not even she could access it if she tried. But he couldn’t stop his excitement at the letter that morning, felt his little sister’s eyes fall on him as he ran from the table, grinning like an idiot.
He deserved to be happy. He earned the right to have a life of his own and control over his future. Yet guilt filtered into his joy. Tainted his victory.
“You actually did it?”
Olivia’s voice filled his mind before he heard the door close to the quidditch shed, the only place of solace where he could think or be himself. She moved in angry strides that shouldn’t have matched the distressed panic in her face but somehow did.
Shame billowed out within him, lingered with a foul taste as he tried to hide his thoughts, tucked the letter safely behind him like a dirty secret. Grey eyes sat on her, assessed the pain and hurt he had caused by keeping her in the dark. By taking the offer and leaving her to fend on her own. If he had been honest, they could have prepared some sort of plan, a way to ensure safety from their parents.
“I was going to tell you,” he signed.
“When?!” Olivia replied coldly. She went straight for the mind, didn’t bother signing it out because she wanted answers now. He already lied once, broken trust and she couldn't believe anything he said now. Signing gave him a chance to think, to spin a bigger web of lies. “Just as we’d pull up to King’s Cross? Your last goodbye, a wish for the best of luck before you buggered off?”
Marcus winced. He hadn’t thought that far ahead. Of course, he planned to tell her, explain his reasons and assure her that everything was going to be okay, but there was never a right moment. He always found an excuse. It was her reaction he feared, the rejection from the only person he had left, his only support system that gave him the strength to continue most days.
“You’re leaving me with them. Again.”
Except he was.
They both knew it.
He didn’t know how to explain it to her, couldn’t find the words to sign or speak from his own mind that would make her see his side of things.
She still had four years left at Hogwarts. That meant four years where he would be trapped at the Flint Manor with no chance of escape if he waited. She had Hogwarts to protect her most of those years while he would have nothing. He had given everything he could to protect her since they were children, put himself between her and his parents. Hated himself every year he left for Hogwarts and she was stuck.
He had nothing left to give, his own fight waning.
He had almost lost that battle once and knew he wouldn't survive it this time.
“Olls . . . ”
A condescending snort left her, a look that almost mirrored how their mother looked at him that broke any resilience he had left.
“You’re no different from them.”
Marcus faltered at the words, felt the sting as if she had physically slapped him. He wasn’t like their parents. In everything he did, he strived to undo the things they had ingrained within him, the hatred and unkindness that melded with the deeply rooted fear that he’d one day turn into them.
It was all brought to life by those simple words and his face crumpled with visible devastation. He knew she didn't mean it. Not really. But it left its mark, burned into him differently than every other cruel thing that he heard over the years.
Marcus sat, his heart torn. Carefully he brought the owl to his lap, turned it over, read the words again, felt the excitement vanish to his guilt. "I'll write them back, I still have time to terminate the contract. Say that maybe in four years - "
"Oh yeah, that way you can hate me."
"Olivia," Marcus pleaded. He didn't know what to do or how to fix it.
"You'd resent me, you arse. I'd be the one who took away your only chance of escaping, of crushing everything you ever dream- . . ."
The words trailed off, an echo in his mind as Olivia looked down, fingers twisting nervously. The idea pinned to what she was asking of him and sullenly Olivia sat beside him.
"I don't want you to give this up. I'm just scared."
She didn't need to say of what or who. They both knew.
"Everyone underestimates you. You’re stronger than they know - than you know." Marcus nudged her, gave a reassuring smile. He believed what he said to his core, knew that Olivia would be fine without him because she was stronger than him in so many ways. "Just think, on holiday you can come stay with me. I'll drag you to all of my quidditch matches. You'll meet my roommate Connor, he seems really nice, I think you'd like him. He's the one who recruited me."
Though a real smile appeared, the nerves were still there. It appeared like Marcus already had it planned out, created a means in which he could still keep her safe from their parents. A safety net.
"I am r e a l l y happy for you. Proud of you," she signed, making it a point to say proud. Affirmation neither of them received from family, a boost in confidence they both could use.