X. dumbledore's army
𝕿hat evening came quicker than Cordelia could’ve anticipated. Time seemed to be just a noise in the background when she sat, again in the dorms, trying to comfort a sobbing Pansy Parkinson, snapping at Millicent Bulstrode when she kept making snarky comments about the Draco/Pansy situation, and Daphne Greengrass’s questions on the Arithmancy homework. And, not to mention, her eyes were drooping at just five o’clock-- the nightmare from earlier that morning had not allowed sleep to greet her.
So, by the time she sat down at the Slytherin table in her usual spot beside Theo, a couple of seats down from her brother, she was absolutely fucking exhausted (and she swore she could still smell the putrid stench of the very messed up Invigoration Draught on her hair).
“What’s got your knickers in a twist?” Claire commented from the seat across from her. The girl’s hair was pulled back into a tight ponytail that had clearly been punished by the wind, as evidenced by the fly-aways that framed her face. She had probably been down on the Quidditch pitch (again, for the second time in one day! Cordelia didn’t know how she handled it).
Well, she supposed it was a good thing because Claire Tamashiro kicked arse on the field. She would win them the cup, one day.
“Oh, nothing,” Cordelia said, blinking away the blurriness in her eyes. If she was being honest, all she wanted to was curl into a ball and drift off into her dream world. “Just a hectic day.”
“Mmm, I can attest to that,” said Theo, his mouth full of shepherd’s pie. “Snape gave me detention.”
Claire giggled. “The Potions classroom smelt so bad, Theo, no wonder you got detention.”
Cordelia pinched the bridge of her nose. “Next time please drink water before class. Me and Harry’s potion could’ve gotten ruined, and I’m not trying to fail!” She took a bite of a dinner roll, savoring the flavor in her mouth as she chewed before swallowing. “And, besides, you said it was going to be a disaster. You brought this upon yourself.”
“I did not!” Theo retorted.
“You did too! You literally said--”
“Okay, okay,” Claire interrupted the two, holding up her palms. “We get it, Snape is a bitch.”
Cordelia laughed. “You’re not wrong.”
Theo rolled his eyes, nodding his head as he did so. He seemed lost in thought for a moment, his mossy green eyes glazing over as he seemed to be recounting a memory. “It didn’t help that I got paired with Winnie for herbology.”
She sipped her water, a small smile on her face. About time something was being done to get the two closest people in her life together. But, Winnie being Winnie, she knew that she would find any way she could to wriggle out of it. Nonetheless, it could be a good thing, right? “Well, that’s not so bad, is it?”
Theo grimaced and set down his fork. “Well, it’s not the most ideal situation, I’ll tell you that. Don’t get me wrong, I love her--” (Cordelia couldn’t help but think this was the truth-- when Theodore Nott falls for someone, he falls hard. And this was evidenced in the way he just looks at Winifred) “--but she’s always changing her mind on whether or not she hates me. And today she’s decided that I’m the scum of the earth!”
Cordelia pursed her lips. “She’s stubborn,” she told him, poking at the sprouts on her plate. “Don’t be too worried about it. She just has her... ways.”
“It’s irritating, sometimes, if I’m being honest.” He dipped his head. “I don’t mean that in a bad way. I bet you get what I mean, Cor.”
Cordelia let out a laugh, taking a bite of her roast potatoes. “You, saying Winifred Bulstrode is irritating? That’s a first.”
Theo just shrugged his shoulders as his eyes flashed with sadness. “I know, I just feel like--”
“Well, speak of the devil,” Claire interrupted, muttering under her breath as she gestured lightly in the direction of the Gryffindor table. The familiar blonde was striding over to them, glancing over to Marcus before stopping in front of them. She was twisting the silver ring on her finger nervously as she bit her lip. She was pale (she was always pale, but she seemed as white as a sheet), making Cordelia nervous. She stared up at her cousin with raised eyebrows, curious but also worried. She didn’t say anything, though.
Winnie leaned over to whisper something in her ear. “First meeting is tomorrow at eight, meet me here and we’ll go together.” Then, without waiting for a reply, she turned on her heel.
It didn’t take an army to know what she was talking about. The defense club meeting. A bout of butterflies began to fly in her stomach, feeling hesitant to defy her professors (but, considering it was Umbridge, she was fine with it: the butterflies settled, and she no longer felt a sense of worry). She watched as Winnie went to walk away, but Theo cleared his throat.
“You know,” he said, and Winnie’s eyes widened. The air around them was tense. Theo’s previous comment about her ‘changing her mind’ about him stuck out to her now. “I read somewhere that camisole tea helps with anxiety and nerves. Interesting, isn’t it?”
Winnie opened her mouth to reply, paused for a split second, and then said, looking him directly in the eye, “Interesting indeed.” Subsequently, she took off, not muttering another word to her cousin who watched her leave with curious eyes. She expected her to go back to her House table, but instead of moving to the Gryffindor side where Lavendar and Parvati (she knew now it wasn’t Padma, after finding out the twin was in Ravenclaw) were waiting for her, she approached Marcus.
Marcus, of all people! Cordelia was well aware that the two barely spoke. It was like they had a mutual agreement to pretend the other didn’t exist. They abandoned it for small talk at their family Christmas parties or other events where family was concerned, but at school, they just didn’t acknowledge the existence of the other. So, when she muttered something and he excused himself from the table to walk with her out of the Great Hall, her mind working vigorously to understand what was going on. Something was off here.
“What was that about?” Claire questioned, looking from Cordelia to Theo and back as she pulled a piece of garlic bread off a plate at the center of the table.
“Nothing!” They both said at the same time, so quickly that Claire gave them both a questioning look which they, in turn, gave to each other.
She looked into Theo’s green eyes, and he looked into her blue ones. It seemed like they were both searching for something, trying to unearth what the other was hiding. It was obvious they were both keeping secrets, but what were they? Hadn’t they always agreed to trust each other?
Ever since she could remember, Cordelia, Claire, and Theo had been inseparable. She and Theo practically grew up together, and they gladly took Claire in and made her a part of their duo when they were eleven. Even at their young age, they always confided in each other-- whether or not it was a crush, or if something was going on at home, or even just about anything that was on their mind.
So why weren’t they doing that now?
Her mind was solely on that as dinner ended and they left the Great Hall-- she caught Winnie’s eye as she stood with Marcus who was running a hand through his black hair, her eyes glossy as if she were about to cry. Winnie glanced away pointedly as Cordelia passed, making her wonder still more:
What were they all hiding?
“Have you seen Ron?”
Hermione’s voice was small, but it nonetheless echoed throughout the corridor as Harry stood, waiting for her in front of the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy. His eyes were focused on the wall in front of him, where just a week earlier the house-elf Dobby had told him a door would appear. He was wary of that, of course, because Dobby had deceived him before (a particular memory where said elf had caused all the bones in his right arm to disappear appeared in his mind).
“No,” Harry replied, eyes not leaving the spot in the wall. “He wasn’t in the common room when I left, either.”
“Really?” Hermione furrowed her eyebrows, adjusting the basket in her arms.
Harry cocked his head toward them. “What’re those?”
“Coins. I’ll explain more inside,” she told him, allowing her own eyes to stare at the spot in the wall as well. “Is it... going to open?”
“I’m not sure,” Harry said, tilting his head as if to get a better look. “Dobby said we had to walk past it three times or so, in order to get in. Thinking about what we want it to turn into, I think.”
Hermione shrugged her shoulders, nodding her head as she did so. They did what Dobby instructed, Hermione with her face screwed up as she muttered under her breath and Harry, eyes closed, pacing in front of the wall on the opposite end of the tapestry. After a moment, a large door appeared in the wall, and they both exchanged awestruck looks.
“Wow,” said Hermione, as they pushed the door open and walked inside. It was magnificent, and it gave Harry a memory of what Professor Moody’s (who had really been Barty Crouch Jr.) office looked like the previous year. There was a various array of sneakoscopes and other dark-wizard-repelling objects. Hermione immediately made her way to the shelves full of books, picking one up off the shelf (Jinxes for the Jinxed) and sinking into a chair to read as they waited for everyone to arrive.
A knock at the door made him turn, and he saw Lavender Brown, Parvati Patil, and Dean Thomas. They all had excited smiles, practically glowing with their need to defy the horrid Professor Umbridge.
“Whoa,” said Dean, walking over to him, staring around the room, obviously very impressed. “What is this place?”
He started to explain, but had to start over once more when more and more people started arriving-- a sinking feeling in his gut told him that Zacharias Smith had arrived, and he made a point to ignore him as he sat down on one of the cushions on the floor beside Ernie MacMillian, who seemed agitated. He noticed they both did but decided against asking about it.
“This place is awesome, Harry!” said Cathy Chang, approaching him. “Where did you learn about it? I’ve never seen it before.”
Again, he started to explain but was cut off sharply when the door swung open, revealing the brunette that had been taking over his mind these last few weeks. Her hair was pulled into a ponytail at the top of her head, and she seemed aggravated. By what, he didn’t know, but he assumed it had something to do with Winifred Bulstrode, as she was nowhere in sight.
By the time 8 o’clock rolled around, every cushion in the room was taken by someone. Winnie had entered a few minutes after her cousin, walking in beside Neville Longbottom, and he gave her a small wave which she returned.
He looked over to Hermione, who was staring at the doorway with a fixed expression. “Ron’s late.”
“I can see that,” she told him, eyes not leaving the door. It was odd for Ron to be late (well, he was usually late, but not this late-- it was almost eight-fifteen and Ron was nowhere in view), but they can continue on, even without him. “You should start the meeting, now.”
“What do I say?” Harry’s mouth had gone dry and found himself almost unable to speak in front of the crowd.
“Just say you’re glad everyone could make it,” Hermione replied softly, closing her book and getting to her feet to stand beside him.
“Okay,” Harry muttered back. He cleared his throat, and immediately everyone turned to look at him. He suddenly felt awkward, standing with his arms lamely hanging at his sides, feeling self-conscious. But, either way, he continued: “Well, this is the place we’ve found for practice sessions. And you’ve - er - obviously found it okay.”
Winnie, in her seat just in front of him, snorted slightly, prompting him to glare at her. She clapped a hand over her mouth, obviously trying to keep herself from falling into a pit of giggles.
“I’ve been thinking about the stuff we ought to do first and - er - what, Hermione?” Harry sighed, noticing Hermione beside him with her hand raised as if they were in a classroom.
“I think we ought to elect a leader,” She announced, and Harry heard a harsh laugh that faded into nothing from beside Winnie-- Cordelia Flint. His heart kicked up a notch, but when they made eye contact, he quickly shifted his gaze back to Hermione.
“Harry’s leader,” Cathy Chang said immediately as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. (Well, it sorta was, but Harry wasn’t going to be selfish, was he?)
“Yes, but I think we ought to vote on it properly,” Hermione said, and Harry had to refrain himself from rolling his eyes. He expected everyone to stay silent, but when they all raised their hands in favor of him being their ‘leader’, his face burned in admiration. “Well, that settles it.”
“Er - right, thanks,” He said, opening his mouth to continue on but Hermione’s hand shot up into the air again. ”Yes, Hermione?”
“I also think we should have a name,” she said brightly, her hand still raised. “It would promote a feeling of team spirit and unity, don’t you think?”
“Can we be the Anti-Umbridge league?” Angelina Johnson piped up. Harry’s lips tilted upward-- he quite liked that one.
“Or the Ministry of Magic are Moron’s group,” Fred Weasley suggested, and Harry suppressed a laugh. He glanced over to Hermione, who’s cheeks had reddened and she was watching Fred with a look on her face Harry didn’t understand.
She snapped her attention back to the group. “I was thinking,” she said, frowning slightly at Fred who continued to grin, “More of a name that didn’t tell everyone what we were up to, so we could refer to it freely outside of meetings.” Harry rather liked the names that called the people they were going against idiots, but, as she always did, Hermione had other plans. And she was usually right about it, too.
“The Defense Association?” Cathy asked, tilting her head slightly. Harry looked at her for a moment, and remembered a time when he used to like the girl-- well, at least before he found out she didn’t like guys the way he liked girls, and she had a girlfriend. He still found her attractive (because, well, who wouldn’t?) but the absence of butterflies in his stomach confirmed that his feelings were gone. That gave him a sense of triumph.
“Yeah, the D.A is good,” said Ginny, speaking up from her place beside Winnie. “Only, let’s make it stand for Dumbledore’s Army because that’s the Ministry’s worst fear, isn’t it?” There was silence, and then a murmur of agreement broke out in the room. Harry watched Cordelia Flint’s mouth turn upwards into a smile and felt a grin coming onto his face, too.
“All in favor of the DA?” Hermione asked tentatively, counting the number of hands that had just shot up into the air. “That’s a majority- notion passed!” She pinned a piece of parchment to the wall, scrawling on top of it, Dumbledore’s Army.
Harry felt a sense of pride, looking at everyone and back to the words on the parchment. His own defense group-- how cool was that? He couldn’t believe he had just been hesitant about it.
“Right,” He cleared his throat as Hermione took a seat beside him. “shall we get practicing then? I was thinking, the first thing we should do is Expelliarmus, you know, the Disarming Charm. I know it’s pretty basic but I’ve found it’s really useful—”
“Oh please,” Zacharias Smith spoke up from the front row, and Harry felt his blood boil at the sound of his voice. He glanced at Cordelia, whom he had recently learned from Winnie had been cheated on by that foul git, was nudging her cousin with an elbow, earning a confused glance from the blonde. “I don’t think Expeliarmus is going to help us against You-Know-Who, do you?”
“I’ve used it against him,” Harry spoke quietly, staring at the blonde as his face suddenly dropped. “It saved my life last June,” He kept his eyes steadily on the boy, knowing that his gaze was intimidating-- he felt that the Hufflepuff deserved it. He had an odd sense of wanting to strangle him, but he didn’t go through with it, obviously. “But if you think it’s beneath you, you can leave.”
The room was thick with silence as Zacharias slumped, nobody daring to utter a word as the air moved uncomfortably around them. Finally, Winnie sighed, and Harry looked over to her: “Don’t you think Smith would look good as trash?” Her words were a whisper, but it was quite clear that it was intended to be fake. He stifled a laugh, looking from one blonde to the other, as the girl in front of him grinned.
“Oi! I heard that Bulstrode,” Zach shouted, twisting in his cushion to stare at her. Winnie’s eyes went wide, and she turned around as if looking for something.
“Did you hear that?” She gasped as her hands fell to cover her mouth. “Merlin’s beard, I think there’s a ghost here.” Hermione, beside him, chuckled, as did a few others around her as Zacharias turned beet red in his spot, staring daggers at her. She wiggled her fingers in a wave and gave him an innocent smile.
“Winnie, really?” Cordelia muttered, just loud enough to catch his eye. When she looked up at him, her face twisted into an emotion that he couldn’t read. Winnie simply rolled her eyes and turned to stick her tongue out at Harry as he glared.
“Right, anyway,” Harry cleared his throat again, but when he opened his mouth to speak once more, the doors banged open, and Ron strode in, drenched from the pouring rain outside and beside him, a girl.
“Ron,” he said, loudly, causing everyone to turn to look at his friend.
“Sorry I’m late,” he said gruffly, running his hand through his hair as Hermione went over to him and the girl, using the drying spell on them both. “I brought a friend, she couldn’t make it to the Hog’s head.”
The girl stamped on his foot and he yelped, nearly stumbling backward and almost falling to the floor. Hermione waved her wand and caught him before he fell, and he stood up again, shooting a glare at the girl.
“Thanks, Odile, really,” he said, scowling.
“You’re welcome.” said the girl, Odile, with an evil grin. “And I’m not his friend, by the way.”
She strode over to sit beside Cedric Diggory, who greeted her with a smile. Harry watched them for a moment, racking his brains to remember who she was (okay, he wasn’t ignorant, he knew she was a Hufflepuff and played for the Quidditch team! He just didn’t remember her name...), and then, when it popped into his head (Odile McClaren, sixth year, chaser), he finally went on.
“I reckon we should all divide into pairs and practice. We’ll be doing the expelliarmus spell,” Harry spoke finally, looking at the whole group. He felt eager to get working, to get out of the spotlight because contrary to popular belief and being the ‘Boy Who Lived’, he did not enjoy being the center of attention.
Voldemort didn’t seem to respect his wishes.
Everyone divided into pairs, Harry partnering with Neville, and he watched out of the corner of his eye Winnie and Cordelia were moving to the far end of the room beside Cedric and Odile as the former Triwizard Champion limped along.
Neville was doing alright for a beginner, not necessarily doing great (like how Cordelia was doing: he found himself glancing over in her direction every so often and saw that to his surprise, she was doing pretty well), but by the time he told him he was going to walk around the room to check on the others, he had already had a good improvement.
“That wasn’t bad,” He said, and everyone lowered their wands to look at him. “But there’s definite room for improvement, so let’s try again! Neville went to work with Ron and Hermione as Harry made his rounds, watching everyone with eager eyes.
Fred and George Weasley were doing well, but they were taking turns to make Zacharias Smith’s wand fly out of his hand every time he opened his mouth to say the incantation. Harry found this funny but, in order for the fucking cheater to learn how to do the spell properly, he actually needed to be able to use his wand. So, when Harry gave the twins a raise of an eyebrow and the subtle shake of his head, they gave him a (un)apologetic shrug and continued doing their own thing.
Harry bent over to pick up Zacharias’s wand and handed it to the boy. As the blonde reached out his hand to grab it, he pulled it back, putting the wand behind his back. “Look,” Harry told him, leaning in close so that only he could hear, “I know this is odd but it doesn’t help me teach when you’re bloody breathing down my neck. And I know you don’t want to be in the same room as her--” he cocked his head in Cordelia’s direction, and regretted it almost instantly when she narrowed her eyes, noticing them both. “--but you need to suck it up and behave yourself or I’ll kick you out. Understand?”
Zacharias’s eyes bore into his as if searching him for something. Finally, when he seemed satisfied, he gave Harry a little smirk. “Didn’t realize you liked her.”
Harry opened his mouth to reply, but Zacharias cut him off. “Don’t say you don’t, because I can see that you do, it’s obvious, mate. But, I’ll do as you ask, I’ll keep quiet.” He stood up straight and held his hand out for his wand. “I’ll take that back now if you don’t mind.”
Harry simply scowled and handed the taller boy his wand back, at a loss for words. He didn’t know how to reply to that-- it sounded oddly like a threat, but, at the same time, it didn’t.
That was confusing.
He turned on his heel and continued to walk around the duos, watching each and every one carefully and offering advice. Cathy Chang’s stature was off, so he told her how to fix it; Parvati Patil was mispronouncing expelliarmus, so he helped her fix it; as he walked, he tries to avoid approaching Winnie and Cordelia for as long as possible but, when Winnie called his name, he realized he couldn’t.
“Hey, Harry, look what Cordelia did!” Winnie’s voice was exceptionally loud, and Harry turned from where Dean Thomas had been showing him his progress. The brunette’s eyes widened as he watched them for a moment, almost frozen in time. His eyes flickered between the two wands that lingered in Cordelia’s hands, and he caught Winnie’s grin when he looked back up.
“Er - good, yeah, good job,” he said, and Cordelia’s cheeks flushed pink, her eyes watching him, not bothering to look away.
Big, blue, and beautiful.
He shook his head: what was getting into him? He turned to walk away, but Winnie’s voice stopped him again. “She’s done it four times, now,” she said, waving her hand in front of Cordelia, who nudged her with her elbow causing the blonde to glare. Harry simply stood awkwardly, shifting on his feet as if he didn’t know what to do with himself.
Why had he suddenly turned into jello?
He liked her, that’s why. He bloody liked her. A Slytherin, of all people! He wished he would have developed feelings for someone else, like Hermione, but he didn’t see her in that light. The only other girls he remembered liking like this was one from his Muggle primary school and Cathy Chang, but, as he had known for a while now, he had absolutely no chance.
Was he going crazy?
“That’s brilliant, Cordelia,” he said, her name sounding foreign in his mouth. He was aware of eyes on him, but he didn’t care-- he was too lost in the sea of her eyes as she stared back at him, her mouth parting in shock.
“Uhm, thank you, Harry,” She replied, her voice close to a whisper. This was not at all the person that Winnie had told him about-- the blonde had told him that Cordelia was like a snake, ready to bite at any given moment, but this, this was something else. He thought for a moment that he had rendered her speechless, but, well, he didn’t want to get too ahead of himself here.
( For the record, Cordelia was, in fact, entranced by him, and very much speechless by his emerald green eyes. But we knew that already, didn’t we? )
He didn’t notice her eyes on him as he strode away; he didn’t hear Cordelia’s protests of Winnie playing “matchmaker”; he sure as hell didn’t hear her nearly slip up, and tell her cousin how she truly felt about the boy.
Harry Potter’s heart would’ve gone into overdrive if he had heard.