XI. badgers do not fly

If someone had looked out the window and onto the Quidditch pitch, they would’ve laid eyes on a scene that looked remarkably like a grumpy, fussing child being dragged along by their stressed parent.

“Why are you forcing me to go? I hate Quidditch!” Cordelia seethed as Claire dragged her across the field, heading towards the Slytherin stands, the sounds of voices and the occasional screech of laughter flying over the pitch. The brunette’s face was fixed with a scowl as she dug her heels into the ground, trying to force Claire to let her go, but the girl was extraordinarily strong. ”Let go of me!"

Claire suddenly stopped in her tracks, causing Cordelia to run into her. “It’s one of the last games before the holidays,” she began, pointing to where the Gryffindor team had already started to warm up, tossing the quaffle back and forth, while the Slytherin team stood as they waited for the members who still had yet to arrive. “I want you to watch us win! I promise it won’t be as bad as you think. And besides, you haven’t been to a single game this term.”

Rolling her blue eyes, Cordelia let out a hmph of displeasure. “I could be studying.”

“Does it look like I care?” Claire grabbed her wrist again and pulled her along, the younger girl following along due to not wanting to get on her best friend’s bad side. Claire could be scary if someone wronged her. Not like her skipping the match would be considered wronging the girl, but it would be a reason for her temper to flare. “You’ll have fun, I promise. You don’t even have to pay attention, just sit and at least get some fresh air! You’re always cooped up inside.”

“I am not!” Cordelia retorted as they came up near the Slytherin team. Claire, turning as she adjusted her uniform, raised an eyebrow. “Okay, you got me,” she pushed her over to the team, offering a smile (it didn’t turn out as so-- she knew this because the girl’s eyes narrowed and she gave her a rude hand gesture, which she gladly returned), and then went to go say hello to her brother, waving to Theo who gave her a flashing grin, shouldering his broom as Claire approached him.

Marcus was in deep conversation with Adrain Pucey, who was tall and could’ve been intimidating but Cordelia knew otherwise. Deep down the boy was personable. She liked that her brother had at least one friend like this-- she knew that most of the Slytherin boys Marcus’s age (and, if she was being honest, her age as well) were pureblood supremacy dimwits who seemed to care about nothing but themselves.

“Hey,” she said. He glanced down at her (yes, down-- he was nearly a foot taller than her).

“Hey!” He said, beaming. “You’re watching the match?”

“You bet I am,” she told him, smiling back at him. The smile came a little easier this time, as it always did when speaking to her brother (on the occasion they were on good terms-- usually they were fighting constantly, and always about idiotic things). She nodded to Adrian, who took this as a cue to let the two siblings talk in private. She watched his back as he left for a moment before speaking again, “How do you think we’ll do?”

“I think we’ll dominate.”

“Oh, really?”

“Really,” Marcus affirmed, his black eyes twinkling. “I don’t think Johnson’s got her head on straight.” He cocked his head to where Gryffindor captain Angelina Johnson was flying, yelling at Fred Weasley (or George Weasley?) for nearly hitting her in the face with his bat. “We should be up there warming up, too, but Malfoy’s taking his sweet time.”

“What are we waiting for?” The familiar blonde’s voice sounded from behind them, and they both turned to see Draco Malfoy striding up onto the field flagged by Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle. “Get up into the air already!”

Marcus scowled, his previously grinning face going slack and being replaced with a look of irritation. “Malfoy, it’s not your place to tell us what to do!”

Malfoy sneered at him and hopped onto his broom as the other members of the team did as well. “See you in the air, Flint! Don’t knock a tooth out this time.”

Marcus seemed to growl at his taunts. “I don’t know why that motherfucker thinks he’s the shit,” he muttered under his breath, swinging his leg over his broom. “He gets on my bloody nerves. Well, see you-- oh, don’t let me forget, I need to talk to you afterward.”

“About?” She gave him a questioning look, watching his face as if she could read what was on his mind.

He looked about to speak, but when he saw his team up in the air doing warmups, his dark eyes flashed. “Later, okay? It’s important.”

And then he flew off, into the sky, leaving Cordelia standing alone.

Her eyes drifted to the stands, where her fellow Slytherins were talking loudly and laughing to themselves, searching for someone to stand with. Her friends were all up in the air-- she supposed she could sit with Tracey Davis, but the girl wasn’t too sociable. Then she spotted Daphne and Astoria Greengrass who, at Quidditch games and Quidditch games only, were sitting together at the top of the stands.

She’d rather sit with Daphne than Tracey, any day.

She trudged up the steps, rubbing her arms with her mitten-clad hands as a cold breeze began to wash over everyone. Cordelia stopped right before she reached the Greengrass sisters’ row, contemplating on whether or not she should just leave, get back into the comfort of the castle-- besides, it was sure to rain, with the gray, cloudy sky above her head.

On the other hand, it might do her some good to talk to people for once. Get over her fright of strangers.

( Okay, she didn’t fear strangers, more like she didn’t like them-- she had a hard time opening up, and speaking to them, even if they’d have a conversation before. And with Daphne, even after hearing her side of the story, she still felt scared to approach her, to talk to her like nothing was on her mind. But she supposed she could put the Zacharias situation off to the side because he didn’t matter anymore. She wasn’t going to let him affect her thoughts, not after he lost his right to be in them. )

So she started towards the girls, muttering a ‘sorry’ and ‘excuse me’ as she crossed in front of her housemates on her way. As she sat down in the empty seat beside Daphne, her mind screamed at her to leave, because, even after they worked things out, things were still... awkward.

She didn’t listen.

Daphne looked over her shoulder and saw her, giving her a wide-brimmed smile. “Hey, Cordelia!” She said happily, reaching over to hug her. She stiffened slightly, not sure as to why Daphne was hugging her, but if she noticed she didn’t show it. She pulled away, the same grin on her face, and looked at her expectantly. “How are you?”

“Oh, I’m fine,” She answered, twisting a strand of hair in between her fingers subconsciously. “I’d rather be up in the castle-- Claire forced me down here, you know.”

“Ah,” Daphne replied, and Astoria leaned over to look at her. “I forgot, you never liked Quidditch, did you?”

Cordelia shook her head and chewed her lip. “No, not really my thing.”

Astoria let out a sigh, as if relieved. ”Finally, someone who agrees with me! Daphne, I told you--”

“Oh, stop it,” Daphne snapped at her sister, who simply glared at her and leaned back against the back of the stands, her arms folded as she stared out to where the match was starting.

The whistle blew, and every broom was up in the air, and she didn’t know who to watch: Marcus and Claire (both Chasers) speeding after the Quaffle; Theodore as he hit a bludger so hard it nearly knocked a Gryffindor player off their broom; or Harry Potter, who was zooming across the pitch searching for the snitch, just as it starts pouring rain.

Bloody hell. This was exactly why she’d rather have been back up in her dormitory, or even in the common room, curled up beside the fire as she scribed on parchment, or rather reading a book. She quite liked to read.

But no, Claire just had to drag her down here.

What gives?

“You like Quidditch, then?” Cordelia questioned, cocking her head in the direction of where a pretty brutal game was occurring.

Daphne beamed. “Oh, yeah,” she said, her eyes shining with delight, “It’s incredible, really. I tried out for the team, but I’ve never been a good player. I prefer to watch from the sidelines.”

“You made the team when you were in second year, didn’t you?” Astoria asked, drawing in closer to the girls.

“It obviously didn’t last long,” She replied with a shrug of her shoulders. “Like I said, I prefer to watch from the sidelines.”

“I despise it,” Her sister blurted, waving her wand above the three of them so a warmth flooded over them and the rain suddenly seemed to miss them as if there was an invisible barrier keeping the water away. Cordelia gave her a grateful smile as the older girl continued: “I don’t like watching people on brooms. I’ve seen enough of it to last a lifetime, honestly.”

“Just because Dad is a professional doesn’t mean you’ve seen enough of it,” Daphne groused, rolling her eyes. Astoria narrowed her own identical ones as if wanting to stare so hard that daggers would fly into her sister’s skull. “You’re just mad because you’re not talented at it, that’s all.”

"I’m not talented?” Astoria scoffed, sweeping her blonde hair out of her face as she put her wand back in her pocket. ”I’m not the one who can’t pick an interest without copying someone else.”

Daphne opened her mouth to respond, but was cut off with Lee Jordan shouting over the megaphone, “Ten points for Gryffindor!” Lips parting open in shock, she forgot her retort and stared fixedly at the game happening right in front of their eyes.

The game went on a few minutes longer, and when Slytherin finally scored, a chorus of cheers erupted in the stands, singing a song that Draco Malfoy had spent hours rehearsing with then:

Weasley is our king!

Cordelia refused to sing, and she held in a breath until it was over.

Later, sometime after Weasley Is Our King had echoed across the stadium for what seemed like the umpteenth time and the game was finally over (with a Gryffindor win, of course), Daphne, as they stood to leave, nudged her in the shoulder with an elbow.

“Hm?” Cordelia glanced behind her as she walked down the stairs to the bottom of the pitch, the Greengrass sisters in tow. She had become more comfortable with them, more so Astoria than Daphne, but still a considerable amount of progress had been made.

“Do you remember when we said we’d, well get back at Zacharias?”

“Yes...” Cordelia raised an eyebrow at her as they stepped off the last bench and onto the green grass of the pitch.

“He’s right over there,” She cocked her head in the boy’s direction who was, sure enough, walking in the same direction they were headed, talking animatedly with Ernie MacMillan and Justin Finch-Fletchley. “We could do it now.”

“By doing what?”

“You could use the bat-bogey hex,” said Astoria. “I can do it pretty well, if I say so myself.”

The rain was still falling, but it had let up slightly and it was now just sprinkling, small droplets of water falling from the air. Cordelia took in a breath of the fresh smell of the outdoors as she observed Zacharias, eyes lingering on his hands. She frowned for a moment, noticing how close together his and Ernie’s hands were but thought better of it when he then draped his arm around Susan Bones who had just joined them.

She snapped her attention back to Astoria, who was giving her a wide smile. “Did you say the bat bogey hex?”

“Yep!” Astoria raised her wand and pointed it discreetly in Zach’s direction. “Look, watch me do it.”

Daphne’s eyes widened as she watched her elder sister mutter the incantation, reaching out a hand to stop her but it was too late— she was saying “Astoria, don’t!” and Cordelia had moved to stop her too, for someone had just walked in their line of attack— Odile McClaren, tagged along by Cedric.

Cordelia had lowered Astoria’s wand hand enough for the spell to go haywire, and with the added person in the way, she was sure something was going to go wrong.

This wasn’t going to be good.

The spell, instead of hitting its intended target, hit the Hufflepuff girl. It didn’t do it’s intended attack, either— instead of bats flying out of Odile’s nose, she was projected backward, knocking into Zacharias as she plummeted through the air as if in slow motion.

There was a puddle of mud on the ground behind the badgers as they seemed to soar through the air, Odile too stunned to scream and Zach too stunned to stop screaming. And then, with a splash, he landed in the mud, sending it flying everywhere. Odile landed with a thud on her back in the grass beside him: Cordelia’s heart was racing as she viewed the scene, and she didn’t know whether to laugh or go help them up off the ground.

She did neither, as when she glanced over to Daphne, the other girl’s attention had been stolen for something else was happening on the field, just ahead of them, she saw Vincent Crabbe hit a bludger straight to the back of Harry Potter’s head with an audible wham— she instinctively flinched.

She barely had time to process both events, as they happened so fast right after the other. She looked over to where Odile was pulling herself up off the ground and Zach was being helped up by Ernie, a grimace on her face, before turning in the direction of the altercation in which Harry was now staring down Malfoy alongside the Weasley twins, whose faces were flushed with anger as he seemingly taunted them.

“— but you like the Weasley’s, don’t you, Potter? I would’ve added more lyrics, then,” He was saying as she and Daphne approached, Astoria leaving the pitch as quickly as she could in order to avoid detection. “Spend holidays there and everything, don’t you? Can see you you stand the stink, but I suppose when you’ve been dragged up my muggles even the Weasley’s hovel smells okay—”

Cordelia, for a split second, found herself agreeing with him. A result of her bringing up in a pureblood-supremacist home. But then her rational side of her brain kicked in and she mentally cursed herself for thinking that, feeling sinful for even letting the thought into her head. She watched Harry grip the back of one of the twin’s uniform as the other was being held back by three girls who played for the Gryffindor team, opening her mouth to speak while pretending the guilt didn’t exist.

"Draco!" She hissed in his ear.

“Or, perhaps,” Malfoy said, leering as he backed away from the Gryffindors. He clearly was ignoring Cordelia, and that made her feel even worse. “You can remember what your mother’s house stank like, Potter, and the Weasley’s remind you of it—”

Harry noticed Cordelia standing behind Draco, and she realized with a pang in her stomach that he thought she was on his side as she kept quiet, not able to reach the blonde as he spoke. Then he let go of Fred or George’s robes, and they were on top of Draco within seconds, pounding every inch of him they could reach with their bare hands, evidentially forgetting they could use magic.

She had long forgotten about the failed hex on Zacharias now, and guilt continued to crawl in every crevice of her body like an infestation.


Cordelia was never good with apologies, especially if she knew she wasn’t in the wrong.

Yet, if she wasn’t in the wrong, then why did she feel guilty?

She didn’t say anything to egg Draco on, nothing at all. But she didn’t tell him to stop, either, and she thought it must look like to Harry that she was supporting the boy in his disgusting words. She didn’t want it to look that way, she didn’t.

And the split second she had wanted to agree... that made her feel worse. Cordelia had thought, ever since her third year, she had grown out of that pureblood mentality, where everyone who’s blood wasn’t “pure” was below her. Both her friendship and relationship with Zacharias Smith had made her realize that her family ideology was, truly, a thing of the past.

But was it really?

She didn’t know what to think anymore.

Luckily the holiday season was just around the corner, and she would have time to gather her thoughts. Although she wouldn’t be able to ignore her parents’ snide comments about half-breeds and muggleborns (or, in their words, mudbloods, a term she tried so hard not to use), she could definitely try, and try she would.

The match had long since been over, and Cordelia was sitting in the common room, her feet propped up against the table as she sat. A book was open in her lap but no progress was being made-- she found herself starting at and re-reading the same page over, and over, and over. Her eyes were focused on it, but her mind was somewhere else.

The couch cushion sunk slightly as someone sat down beside her, and she snapped out of her trance. She glanced up to see Marcus sitting to her left, clad in Muggle clothing. He mimicked her position, propping his own feet up against the table, and she gave him a small smile.

“Hi,” she said, her voice quiet but just loud enough for him to hear as she closed her book.

“Hey,” He replied. “Can I talk to you?”

“Oh, right,” She nodded, remembering something from earlier. “You wanted to talk, didn’t you?”

“Yeah,” He said, and although he relaxed further into the couch he still looked rather tense, causing her to raise a concerned eyebrow.

“Everything okay?” she asked him, and his exhale told him that everything was, in fact, not.

“Yes... and no,” He said. “Winnie asked about Max.”

Cordelia’s heart sank to her stomach. “What did you tell her?”

Marcus eyed her for a moment before speaking again. “I told her the truth.”

Her head throbbed. “You— you told her—”

“I didn’t give details,” he cut in, panicked. “But that’s not my point. Hold on, breathe—”

“You told her?” Cordelia said in a pained, hushed voice, dragging her hands across her face. Her heart began to beat rapidly in her chest when she came to the realization that Winnie knew.

“Delia, breathe.” He gripped her shoulders. “Sh, it’s okay. She’s not going to tell anyone, everything is fine. You need to let me finish.”

She sucked in a breath, willing her heart to slow down. Marcus waited until she looked fine enough for him to continue, and when he did, it did not help her speeding heart rate.

“I think she’s in trouble,” he said, quietly as a few second years passed by them, giggling to themselves. “She said something cryptic. I can’t explain it, but I think something’s wrong.”

“She told you that and not me?” Cordelia asked him, eyes widening. “Why wouldn’t she tell me?”

“I think she’s scared. I don’t know why Max came up, but—”

“What does she have to be scared of?” She said, her voice cracking. “She doesn’t have Death eaters for parents. She doesn’t have anything to be worried about!”

Marcus narrowed his eyes. “You know our family, Delia. Anything can happen.”

Cordelia snorted, a harsh laugh escaping her lips. “Understatement. Our bloody fucking family.”

Marcus smiled slightly. “That’s exactly what she said.”

She paused. “Do you know why she mentioned Max?” She asked, her voice still low enough for only him to hear. The common room was becoming more and more packed by the second, and she was becoming increasingly more aware of those surrounding her.

“No,” Marcus shook his head. “I just said I don’t know. But we’re the only ones who know, us and mum and—”

“Dad.” Cordelia finished, the memory flashing before her eyes for a split second before she was brought back to reality.

“And the good news,” Marcus said, hastily changing the subject as a gaggle of fourth year girls sat down on the opposite side of the table. “Is that we won’t have to worry about Umbridge writing to our parents after tomorrow.”

“What’s tomorrow?”

“The first Inquisitorial Squad meeting,” he clarified. “We’re supposed to be there during lunch in Umbridge’s classroom.”

“I don’t want to spend my lunch hour with that old bat!” Cordelia hissed under her breath.

“Well, too bad,” Marcus was glowering, making it obvious he didn’t want to go, either, but they had to, unless they wanted to face the wrath of their parents (more like their father, but same thing).

She let out a huff of irritation, folding her arms across her chest. She took in another deep breath, her heart still beating quickly and she swore she could feel sweat forming on her brow.

Now she knows what happens when you mix guilt, fear, and anxiety together. And she never wanted to feel it again, not if she could help it.

Marcus moved to get up from the couch. “Well,” he cleared his throat. “That’s all I wanted to talk to you about. Keep an eye on Winnie, yeah?”

Cordelia gave him a small smile that did not quite reach her eyes. “Always.”

Marcus got to his feet and was about to walk away, but a question pushed its way to the forefront of her mind, and she stopped him. “Hey, Marcus?”

He turned to look at her, an eyebrow raised.

“What would I do if I, hypothetically, made someone think I was a bitch? Well, a pure-blooded psychopath is the better way to explain it. And what if I didn’t know them well, but we were... becoming friends, I guess? I don’t know. Any advice?”

“This is hypothetical, right?” Marcus smirked slightly, and it took all her energy not to glower at him.

“Yeah, hypothetical.”

“I’d write them a note,” he said simply. “Apologize, and all. But it depends who it is.” Then he turned on his heel, waving a slight goodbye to his sister as he walked towards the boys dormitories.

She watched him leave, and as he turned the corner and out of sight, she knew what she had to do.

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