III. the pink devil
Cordelia let out a sigh, forcing herself to look away from the blonde git who had broken her heart just weeks prior. She said in a tired voice, “What’s got you so happy, Nott?”
Theodore gave her a doting grin before sitting down at his usual spot across from her. “I’m just glad to be back.” He piled bacon and eggs onto his plate.
The brunette rolled her eyes as she took a bite of her muffin, chewing carefully. “Glad to be back or glad to see Winnie?”
“Can’t a man be glad for both?”
“No.” She said simply, trying to keep both her face and voice level and calm as her thoughts continued to circle back to Zacharias Smith.
Now it was Theo’s turn to roll his eyes. He shoved a piece of bacon into his mouth as he turned around to face the Gryffindor table, where Winnie was speaking animatedly with Parvati (or was it Padma? Cordelia couldn’t tell the difference) Patil, eating her piece of toast so quickly that Cordelia was surprised she didn’t choke to death. Theo turned back around with a smile on his face and said brightly, “She’s so beautiful.”
The voice of Claire Tamashiro came from behind her as she slid in beside Cordelia. “You’re a lovesick puppy, aren’t you?”
Cordelia snorted. “He is. Ever since the third year, too, when she punched Draco in the face.”
“You can’t blame me, Cor, it was amazing.” Theo told her, a smile blooming across his face as he recounted the memory.
“Even though she was defending Granger?” asked Cordelia, now spooning a small amount of yogurt into a bowl. She stirred it defensively as she glanced back over to the Hufflepuff table where Zacharias was sitting, speaking in a hushed tone with his mates. His eyes met hers and she immediately looked away. Taking a chance, she looked back again and was surprised to see that he was still watching her. They kept eye contact for what seemed like ages, as if they were both trying to communicate telepathically, before Theo waved his hand in front of her face, snapping her out of her trance.
“Earth to Cor!” He said.
“I’m trying to eat in peace, Theo. Let me be-”
Theo scoffed and shoved another piece of bacon into his mouth, and said with his mouth full, “You were staring at Zach again.”
“You know,” interjected Claire, swallowing a bite of her sausage. She gestured with her fork at the Hufflepuff. “We shouldn’t call him Zach anymore. He doesn’t deserve to be on a first-name basis with us.”
Cordelia opened her mouth to reply but Theo cut her off, saying: “You’re right, you’re right. Smith it is. You know, it’s odd seeing someone we used to spend all our time for the last two years as a stranger-”
“Imagine how I feel, Theo,” interrupted Cordelia, sprinkling granola into her yogurt as she spoke. “I caught him with another girl. Imagine seeing someone you literally gave yourself to turn into a complete stranger.”
Theo lowered his eyes to the table and Claire awkwardly cleared her throat, prompting Cordelia to shoot them both a glare. “Look, guys, all I’m saying is that you wouldn’t know how it feels like, okay?”
Claire adjusted the phoenix clip that adorned her hair and chewed her lip. “I doubt Theo meant anything bad by that, Cordelia.”
“I know. I just thought I had to get it out there, though.” She looked back in the direction of Zacharias, and to her surprise, Winnie Bulstrode was leaning in close, saying something to him that wasn’t loud enough for Cordelia to hear, but just at the right volume for him and his friends to take note of. He had a confused look on his face as she shoved herself in between him and the girl he was next to. “What the hell is Winnie doing over there?”
Theo’s eyes twinkled as she turned to face the girl, watching as she accidentally knocked over Zacharias’s coffee. He said matter-of-factly, “She’s up to something.”
Winnie poured him a new mug, ignoring Zach’s protesting, and set it down in front of him. She stood up and left the table, and when she sat back down beside the Patil girl, Sue, and Cassidy, she looked over in Cordelia’s direction and winked. Winked!
Something was about to go down.
Sure enough, when Cordelia’s eyes slid over to Zacharias’s face, her eyes widened as his hair turned bright pink and the word CHEATER exploded across his forehead. She slapped her hand over her face and burst into a fit of laughter as her ex-boyfriend ran out of the hall, using the robes of his hood to cover the words.
Winnie was absolutely brilliant.
The sound of her shoes clicking on the stone floor echoed throughout the corridor as she made her way towards the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. She was the only one in the hall, as it was only one minute before class was due to begin (she had a reputation for constantly being late, just ask anyone) and she was already running behind. That day she had already been late for nearly every class, with the exception of Potions... but, she knew she wasn’t going to get away with anything with her new Professor, so she needed to be on time. Needed.
There was a poster on the wall advertising an easy way to make money-- sponsored by the Weasley twins... she shook her head and let out an audible sigh as she pushed open the doors to the classroom, greeted with the sound of absolutely nothing. Cordelia saw Professor Dolores Umbridge seated carefully at her desk, a black velvet bow on the top of her head that frankly made her gag at the sight of it. She carefully made her way across the room to the only empty seat which was, to her misfortune, right beside Draco Malfoy.
Once the woman in pink was sure everyone was seated, she said in a polite manner, “Well, good afternoon!”
Only a few students mumbled a reply, including Cordelia, which was not at all to Professor Umbridge’s satisfaction. “Tut, tut,” she said, now getting up out of her seat (not that it made a difference, of course; the woman was so short that she was the same height standing as she was when sitting down), “That will not do. I would like you to reply, please, with ‘Good afternoon, Professor Umbridge.’ One more time, please. Good afternoon, class!”
“Good afternoon, Professor Umbridge.” The class said back.
“Good job, class,” said Professor Umbridge sweetly. “That wasn’t too hard, was it? Now, wands away and quills out, please.”
Cordelia glanced over at Draco, who had his eyebrows raised in a questioning look. She mouthed what to which he replied with the simple shrug of his shoulders and a glare at the Professor. She dug into her bag for her quill, ink, and parchment but groaned loudly as she realized that she had forgotten her quill in her dorm. She whispered to Draco, “Do you have an extra quill?”
He nodded and pulled one out, checking to make sure it was in proper condition, and then handed it over to her. She muttered a thank you as Professor Umbridge tapped the chalkboard twice: at once, words appeared on the board.
Defense Against The Dark Arts
A Return To Basic Principles
“Well, I am aware that your teaching in this subject has been a big... fragmented, and more often than not avoiding teaching what is truly in the Ministry approved curriculum,” she said, turning to face the class with her hands clasped in front of her. “This has, unfortunately, resulted in you all being well below the standard we would expect to see in your O.W.L year. But I think you will be pleased to see that these problems have been rectified.”
Cordelia’s face contorted into one of absolute boredom as she zoned out. She participated in the scribbling down of the course aims onto a piece of parchment (extremely boring course aims, as a matter of fact), reading the textbook Defensive Magical Theory by Wilbert Slinkhard (one that she had already read, of course-- her father Carelton had forced his children to read their textbooks in preparation for their classes in the upcoming year). The only thing that snapped her out of her daze was Draco nudging her shoulder and slyly pointing at Hermione Granger, who was just a few seats over, who was sitting with her hand in the air-- and her book was shut. Even though Cordelia was not close to the girl in any way, shape, or form, she knew that her neglecting to read when instructed was a sign that something was truly wrong. Professor Umbridge had apparently decided she could not ignore the Gryffindor any longer, saying, “Did you have a question about the book, dear?”
“Not about the book, no,” said Granger, finally lowering her hand. She shook it out as if it had been hurting her.
“We’re reading right now, Miss...”
“We’re reading right now, Miss Granger, so any queries you have about anything other than the book can be dealt with after class.”
“I have a query regarding the course aims, Professor,” replied Hermione in a headstrong manner. She stared at Professor Umbridge and the woman stared back, obviously thinking about her response.
“I think that the course aims are perfectly clear if you read through them carefully.”
Cordelia saw Hermione take a breath before saying, “Well, there’s nothing in here about using defensive spells.”
“I can’t imagine why you would need to use defensive spells in my class, Miss Granger. You surely aren’t expecting to be attacked during class?”
“We’re not going to be using defensive spells?” Interjected Ron Weasley loudly, making Cordelia snort. She muttered to Draco, “This is going to get interesting.”
“I don’t like them,” replied Draco quietly, “But it’s better than reading this bloody book, I will say.”
“Students must raise their hand if they wish to speak in my class, Mr.--?”
Professor Umbridge turned her back on him as Harry Potter and Granger both raised their hands. Her eyes lingered on Potter for a moment before acknowledging Granger. “You wanted to ask something else?”
“Surely the whole point of a Defense Against the Dark Arts is to practice defensive spells?”
“Are you a Ministry-trained educational expert, Miss Granger?” asked Professor Umbridge in a falsely sweet voice.
“Then you are not to speak on the subject. You will be learning spells in a risk-free, secure way--”
“What use is that?” said Potter loudly. “If we’re going to be attacked it won’t be in a-”
"Hand, Mr. Potter!”
Cordelia watched the exchange go on, students raising their hands in the air or speaking out of turn and Professor Umbridge shutting them down. Umbridge finally said carefully, “Who do you imagine wants to attack children like yourselves?”
“Hmmm. . . let’s think,” said Harry in a mock thoughtful voice, and Cordelia knew what he was about to say before the words even came out of his mouth. “Maybe, Lord Voldemort?”
Cordelia choked on her own saliva and Malfoy merely rolled his eyes, but the others who had no dealing with the Dark Lord themselves had more, well, dramatic reactions-- Ron Weasley gasped; Lavender Brown let out a little scream, and Neville Longbottom fell sideways and out of his chair. Umbridge, however, did not even flinch-- she simply stared at Potter, her eyes narrow, and said coolly, “Ten points from Gryffindor, Mr. Potter.”
The classroom went silent-- everyone was either watching Potter or Umbridge (Cordelia specifically at the former). Umbridge stated, “Now let me make a few things clear.” She leaned over her desk, standing up, resting her weight on her hands. “You have been told that a certain Dark wizard has returned from the dead--”
“He wasn’t dead,” said Harry angrily, making Cordelia’s eyes widen. “But yeah, he’s returned!”
Umbridge shot him a look. “As I was saying, you have been informed that a certain Dark wizard is at large again. This is a lie."
“It is NOT a lie!” said Harry, obviously getting angrier and angrier which each word he spoke. Cordelia found herself staring at him as he rolled up his sleeves. “I saw him, I fought him!”
“Detention, Mr. Potter!” said the professor triumphantly. “Tomorrow evening. Five o’clock. My office. I repeat . . . this is a lie. The Ministry of Magic guarantees that you are not in danger of any Dark wizard.”
Cordelia cleared her throat and said, without bothering to raise a hand, “With all due respect, Professor, how would you know if Potter was lying or not? From what I remember you weren’t even at the tournament.”
“Would you like detention, too, Miss---?”
“Flint. Cordelia Flint.”
Umbridge’s face turned from sour to a smile that made Cordelia’s insides twist into a knot. “You’re Carleton Flint’s daughter correct?” She nodded. “Well, he wouldn’t like to see his little girl get detention on her first day of courses, would he? I’ll let you off with a warning, Miss. Flint. Now, class, you will kindly continue your reading. Page five, ‘Basics for Beginners’.”
“Defending Gryffindors, now, are we?” muttered Malfoy as Umbridge sat back down.
“We both know that Potter’s right,” she spat, flipping the page of her book. “You remember August second, don’t you? Or was I hallucinating?”
Draco opened his mouth to retort but ultimately failed to make a comeback. His eyes widened as the sound of a chair being moved caught Cordelia’s attention, and she turned to see Potter now standing up. Granger tried to warn him to sit, tugging his sleeve, but he jerked his arm out of her reach.
“So, according to you, Cedric Diggory nearly died because of a maze?”
There was a collective intake of breath from the class. No one, except for the “golden trio”, knew what truly happened on the night of the third task, when Harry Potter had appeared out of the maze clutching Cedric Diggory’s unconscious body.
“His injuries were a tragic accident.” Professor Umbridge said coldly.
“It was attempted murder,” replied Harry, and Cordelia could practically see him shaking. The poor boy (poor boy? Where did that come from?) was so traumatized from the events, and she found herself feeling sorry for the Boy Who Lived. “Voldemort tried to kill him, and you know it.”
Umbridge stared at him. For a moment, Cordelia thought she was going to scream at him-- but, the words and tone of voice that came out of her mouth were quite the opposite. “Come here, Mr. Potter, dear.”
Potter kicked his chair aside and strode around his friends and up to the teacher’s desk. Professor Umbridge pulled out a small roll of pink (pink!) parchment and scribbled on it. She folded up neatly and tapped it with her wand so he would not be able to open it. “Take this to Professor McGonagall, dear.”
Potter took it without a word and left the room, leaving the entire Defense Against the Dark Arts class at a loss for words. They waited patiently for Professor Umbridge to give them their next instructions, and she said, “Class is nearly over. Continue reading.”
And Cordelia found herself staring at the same page for the next twenty minutes until the bell excused the class from the most boring (yet, somehow, also the most entertaining) course of the day.
As she gathered her belongings together, the short figure of Hermione Granger came striding up in front of her. Cordelia raised her blue eyes to meet the girl’s chocolate brown ones. “What?”
“I wasn’t expecting you to defend Harry,” she said, giving her a soft smile. “It was nice of you to do that.”
“I just wanted to tell you that. Have a good afternoon.” And with those parting words, Hermione Granger strode out of the room, gripping Ron Weasley’s arm tightly. As she watched them leave, she thought to herself, what the bloody hell was that?
She left the room very confused and headed to her dorm, picked up a few of her belongings, and left again, heading towards the Great Hall to meet Winnie for their usual study session at the library. She found her mind wandering to the chaotic D.A.D.A class she had just encountered, twisting the ring on her finger around as she spotted Winnie. She quickly made her way over to the girl.
“Let me tell you, polishing trophies is an absolute pain in the arse,” Winnie grumbled as they started off towards the library. Winnie’s hair had almost completely fallen out of the bun she was wearing on top of her head, and she hadn’t bothered to re-do it.
“Just be glad you didn’t have Snape, or, hell, Umbridge. I heard she’s brutal with detentions.” Cordelia chimed in as Winnie grimaced. Cordelia knew that Snape was a hard-ass when it comes to detentions (she’s had a detention with him almost twice a quarter) and was dreading the fact that she was most definitely going to have a detention one day with Umbridge. The woman was like a pink devil in disguise-- a poorly maintained one, at that, as it failed to conceal the toad-like features on the woman’s plump, ugly face.
“True, I think I would just go surrender myself to the Whomping Willow,” Winnie said, and Cordelia’s mind immediately conjured up a memory of she and Theodore, both eleven at the time, running around the tree and both nearly getting themselves killed. But it was worth it.
The two girls fell into a comfortable silence, and Cordelia absentmindedly twirled a lock of her hair in her thin fingers, a very bad habit of hers. The sound of their feet carrying them through the corridors became rhythmic as the two walked in time together. She saw Neville Longbottom quickly move past them, holding an odd-looking plant in his hands. He avoided the cousins’ gaze, scuttling past them as if his life depended on it. She looked over at Winnie, who had a frown on her face-- she knew the girl hated people avoiding her just because of her family’s (and her) reputation.
“So, you defended Potter,” spoke Winnie, breaking the silence.
Cordelia sucked in a breath. “Indeed I did,” she spoke, very matter-of-factly, as they stepped onto the staircase that had just stopped moving. “I actually agreed with what he had to say.”
Winnie looked over at her with a shocked look on her face. Cordelia watched her form her thoughts, confused as to why it was a big deal-- scratch that, she knew why it was a big deal. Corrupt Cordelia Flint defending goody-two-shoes Harry Potter was definitely an odd thing. “Merlin! You, defending someone from my house? Are you okay?” Winnie jokingly pressed her hand against Cordelia’s forehead, prompting Cordelia to push her hand away with the roll of her eyes. “Does my dear cousin like Saint Potter? Are we going to have little Potter babies running around in a few years?” Winnie teased, nudging her lightly with her elbow as she laughed softly.
“Don’t be foolish! I was just...” Cordelia paused for a moment, scowling as she felt her cheeks warm and seeing Winnie’s smirk. “I just don’t think he’s in the wrong, that’s all!” Winnie raised an eyebrow, grinning at her cousin before turning her head in the direction of a voice that had just called Cordelia’s name.
“Cordelia, wait up!” Daphne Greengrass was running towards them, Slytherin robes billowing behind her, and immediately Cordelia felt bile creep up her throat. She saw her cousin stiffen slightly as her stomach contents threatened to spill all over the stone floor.
“What do you want, Greengrass?” Winnie snapped harshly. Daphne frowned slightly as she ignored the Gryffindor and focused her attention on Cordelia, who was looking anywhere but at her.
“Winnie, calm down.” Cordelia sighed, and Winnie looked up at her. She, Cordelia, threw a sharp glare at Daphne as if daring her to speak to her again.
“Can I speak to you, alone? It’s about Zacharias,” said Daphne, twisting her fingers nervously and chewing the inside of her cheek. Cordelia still refused to make contact with the girl her boyfriend (well, ex-boyfriend now...) had cheated on her with, not wanting anything to do with her.
“You should go,” said Winnie softly, placing her hand on her cousin’s shoulder and squeezing it reassuringly. “Might be good to, you know, hear her side.” She cocked her head in the direction of Daphne who momentarily looked at her in shock. Cordelia’s mind was screaming at her to go and speak to the youngest Greengrass, but she truly didn’t want to suffer through what Zach had done to her again by hearing Daphne’s side. It wasn’t until Winnie gave her a faint smile that she finally made her decision.
“Alright, Greengrass, let’s go.” she mumbled, smiling half-heartedly at Winnie Bulstrode before turning around and walking back in the direction she had come, followed close behind by the other Slytherin, not prepared in the slightest to hear what Daphne Greengrass had to say for herself.