V. prepositions

𝕴n the month since the first day of courses and her conversation (or yelling match?) with Daphne Greengrass, Cordelia had come to realize just a few things:

A) Her anxiety had settled a tremendous amount in the days following the “talk” with Daphne. She at first thought that it was because of their shared interest in making Zacharias’s life a living hell, but then she concluded that it may have been from the fact that she was friends again with the girl who had previously been her best friend-- in other words, she was feeling better about reforming a relationship that had been lost. The two girls had been inseparable just a few years ago, having a falling out due to the accidental explosion of a cauldron in Potions class. Then she took note of the fact that it may not have been accidental at all, because she just happened to remember that Blaise Zabini was sitting beside them, and she also happened to remember hearing his snickers as Daphne quickly hurried out of the class crying. Fucking Blaise.

B) She was most definitely not happy with Professor Umbridge being appointed the new D.A.D.A Professor. She thought she could live with it, but no-- the woman, who had been dubbed Umbitch by the Ravenclaws (Cordelia learned her lesson in the third year to not mess with the Eagles. They could be worse than her fellow Slytherins if they truly wanted to), had assigned two chapters (two chapters!) of reading over a two day period. Not that Cordelia was complaining, of course, because she had already read those pages over the summer, but it was the fact that she had to outline every single page of each chapter. Each. Chapter. Umbridge was already not allowing them to use defensive spells, but adding more writing to a defensive class was just making Cordelia angrier and angrier each time she stepped foot into the classroom. And it didn’t help that Draco would constantly bad mouth Potter and his friends during instruction, which further made her both angry and annoyed. Yes, she didn’t quite like Weasley all that much (he was an insufferable git), Malfoy could always just keep his thoughts to himself, and maybe Cordelia could have a good chance at actually passing the class with her usual O.

C) She didn’t like Zacharias Smith. Of course, that had already been decided, but it was a feeling that continued to grow. In the span of two weeks, she had seen him on the ground snogging not one, but two different girls. Yes, her heart broke just a little bit each time, but she could not let herself fall for him all over again. But it just wasn’t fair that she was still in love with the bastard, because he broke her heart!

D) She could not stop watching Harry Potter. Ever since the first Defense Against the Dark Arts class, she just couldn’t keep her blue eyes off of him. It didn’t make any sense, and it made her insides boil because she did not want to associate herself with a Gryffindor! (The only exception to this was Winnie.) She had bad experiences with Hufflepuffs and was already suffering through Winnie’s bossy comments like “You need to get back to work!” or “Stop complaining and just focus!” She didn’t need the extra Gryffindor in her life who would just try and be better at everything or be so proud of himself that he wouldn’t let her speak. And it seemed like her friends had noticed, too, because one day in Potions, Theo had to snap her out of her thoughts as she watched Potter cut up his dandelion roots. To further that, Winnie had noticed that as well-- when they would eat breakfast together once or twice a week, Cordelia found herself absolutely distracted by the boy with the lightning scar. She couldn’t help herself-- he just had really nice eyes. But she needed to stop because if she did end up falling for the boy (which she highly doubted, he was too awkward for her liking), her parents would not be happy.

So, when Winnie came to ask her a question on a Saturday morning, Cordelia kept this in mind as she said her answer: no.

“Oh, come on! Don’t tell me you have better things to be doing.” Winnie’s voice was stern, as usual, and it made Cordelia roll her eyes.

“I have homework!” Cordelia leaned back into her seat. She brought her jug of butterbeer to her lips, and as she took a drink she felt the drink warm her body from the top down.

“It’s one Saturday out of the rest of your life, Cordelia,” Winnie snorted, taking a sip of her hot cocoa. The two were sitting outside the Three Broomsticks, the cold fall weather making both shiver down to their core. “I don’t want to go by myself, I barely know the people!”

“Then don’t go if you don’t feel comfortable,” retorted Cordelia, setting her glass down on the table. “I’m not going.”

“You are, I’m going to make you.”

“No, you’re not--”

“Yes, I am!” Winnie said, giggling a little. “Please, Hermione wants me to spread the message to as many people as I can. And I know a lot of people.”

Cordelia clicked her tongue. “Wow, brag about your popularity, will you?” She took another sip of butterbeer. “I’m not going to spend my Saturday in a room full of Gryffindors.”

“We’re not so bad, you know,” acknowledged Winnie, brushing her hair back behind her ears. She crossed her legs under the table, grunting in pain when she accidentally hit her knee on the table. “Ouch!”

“That’s what you get for making me go along with you!” Cordelia snickered, sticking her tongue out at her cousin in a mocking manner. Winnie narrowed her eyes. “I’m not going, end of story.”

“You are. I don’t care if I have to force you.”

“Why do you care so much if I go or not! It’s literally not that big of a deal--”

“I’m supposed to make people come, and you’re the lucky one I’m forcing,” said Winnie, placing one hand around her mug and rubbing her knee with the other. “I know Theo would, but I’m not taking him.”

“Why not?” Cordelia was smirking now. “He would love to have some one-on-one time with you.”

“No. Absolutely not,” Winnie complained, shaking her head fervently. “No. No.”

“Here’s a question for you,” replied Cordelia, leaning over the table. She clasped her hands in front of her and looked Winnie in the eye. “Why do you try and hate him so much? He’s head over heels in love with you, Win.”

“No, he doesn’t,” Winnie replied, averting eye contact. She stared at the window that was behind Cordelia, looking into the tables of the Three Broomsticks. “No!”

“Why won’t you give him a chance?”

“Because,” said Winnie, enunciating the ‘cause’, “I don’t need to. This is our O.W.L year, and I have better things to be worrying about than stupid boyfriends. Besides, I don’t want to get my heart broken as you did.”

Cordelia’s mouth fell open. “Way to call me out! That hurt.” She pressed her hand over her chest where her heart was, jutting out her lip and pretending to cry. “I’m offended.”

“You know what I mean.” Winnie rolled her eyes as she lifted the mug to her lips, took a sip, and set it back down. “Look, Cordelia, why is it such a big deal to spend an hour with us lions?”

“Merlin, it’s like you want me to get bullied. My brother will never let it go, and Draco-- god, who knows what Draco would say. You know how he hates them with every fiber in his being.”

Winnie nodded her head. “You know,” she said, inclining her head towards the boy himself as he walked into Zonko’s Joke Shop on the other side of the street with his goons Crabbe and Goyle. “This is off-topic, but I have a feeling that he might have a little crush on Hermione Granger.”

Cordelia snorted. “No way! He despises her. Calls her slurs!”

Winnie raised an incredulous eyebrow as she unwrapped a chocolate frog, the foil crinkling in her hands as she rolled it up into a little ball. “I don’t know... he doesn’t seem all that into Parkinson.”

“I mean... not really,” replied Cordelia, but then remembering the awkward patting of Pansy’s back as he stared at her with a what do I do expression on his face. She guessed what Winnie was saying had a little backing to it. Just a little. “No. He’s not into her, trust me. He would tell me--”

“Would he, really?” said Winnie, eyebrows still raised. She bit the head off her chocolate frog and it stopped trying to jump out of her hands as it had been doing before. “He’s a little... odd.”

“He’s nice when you get to know him,” Cordelia said. She took another large gulp of butterbeer (what she really wanted right now, though, was a nice bottle of Firewhiskey. But she was underage, so she definitely couldn’t get her hands on one... ). “Trust me.”

“Hmph.” The door to the Three Broomsticks opened with the ding of a bell and three people exited the pub-- she heard the familiar voice of Hermione Granger scolding the two boys who were with her (her heart skipped a beat when she saw Harry Potter and she tried to keep her face from flushing. Winnie would make so much fun of her), who were both looking very, very annoyed. Winnie perked up. “Hermione!”

“Hi, Winnie!” Winnie stood to embrace the bookworm, and when they let go of each other she smiled at Cordelia softly. Cordelia tried to return it but it didn’t come out as much of a smile, more of an odd mix between a smile and a frown. “Hi, Cordelia! Did Winnie talk to you about coming to the meeting next Saturday? Just down the road at the Hog’s Head.”

Weasley shot Hermione a look, who returned it with just as much force. For someone shorter than him, he seemed to take every face she made and every word she said extremely seriously. Potter just looked extremely bored and out of place, staring off into the distance dramatically. It was like he was trying to distract himself from looking at something, but what? Cordelia didn’t know. She cleared her throat and said, “Yeah, uh, I--”

“She’ll be there!” Winnie interrupted, winking at her cousin who shot her a glare (Did Winnie really just make plans for her? When she specifically said she didn’t want to go? The nerve of her). “Eleven, right?”

“Yes!” Hermione was beaming, and Cordelia was not. She was, in fact, extremely annoyed at Winnie Bulstrode. “See you guys. Have a good afternoon!” She sped off in the direction of the castle, followed closely behind by her friends who were shadowing her like lost puppies.

Once they were out of earshot, Cordelia snapped, “Why would you tell them I’m going? Now I have to be there.”

Winnie giggled and took another bite of her chocolate frog. “That’s the whole point!” She gave her a toothy grin as she checked her watch, and her brown eyes went wide in alarm. ”Merlin! I gotta go, I told Parvati I would meet her in the library to help with her Charms homework. Poor girl’s useless at it.”



“You owe me.”

“I know. See you later!” She quickly got to her feet and sped off in the same direction that the trio had just taken, leaving Cordelia alone, cold, and with a nearly empty bottle of butterbeer. She downed it as she stared at the nearly empty village of Hogsmeade, in all it’s cold and gloomy glory.

Her thoughts were interrupted when Marcus suddenly sat down in the chair that had previously been occupied by Winnie and set down his shopping bag with a slam, startling his sister out of her own mind. “Oh my God, Marcus! You scared the living daylight out of me!” Her breathing was suddenly ragged as she tried to catch her breath. “I hate you.”

Marcus simply grunted, “I needed to talk to you.”

“About?” Cordelia asked, her heartbeat finally going back to its normal pace. ”Please tell me it’s not--”

“I don’t know if you’ve heard,” interrupted Marcus, pretending that she had not just been in the middle of speaking, “But Umbridge has assembled a group of us Slytherins, there are a few other houses mixed in there as well but it’s just a small group of us. Like ten or fifteen,” he added, seeing Cordelia’s eyes go wide in anticipation of a large crowd. “She wanted me to talk to you about joining.”

Why was everyone so interested in her joining something? First, it was Winnie trying to get her to attend some stupid meeting with the lions. Apparently, her cousin believed that she could just make plans for her without her permission (which, on the contrary, was something that was needed for Cordelia to go out and socialize, but she didn’t like to admit that) and that just made her blood boil. She was not going to spend her Saturday doing who-knows-what in the disgusting pub that made her anxiety skyrocket every time she walked past it.

And then there was her brother, who, like always, just assumed she was in on his plans. But not this time! She was staring him down like a hawk and she thought to herself that this was absolutely bloody ridiculous. Why would she, someone who hated the guts of Professor Umbridge, go and join her club? It wasn’t logical, and Marcus coming to ask her to join was simply stupid. Cordelia stared him down like a hawk, daring him to ask again, but, alas, he didn’t take the hint. He said as he looked her in the eye, “Well, are you in?”

“Of course I’m not in! I hate the woman!”

“She handpicked students to join,” Marcus said, puffing out his chest as if to show how proud he was to be one of Umbitch’s ‘handpicked students’, a title that Cordelia thought was utterly laughable. “You should be flattered!”

"Flattered? Is this a joke?” Her tone was mocking, and it made Marcus frown.

“Obviously not, Delia!”

She rolled her eyes. “You really think I would join this club of hers? After seeing the way she treats people?” She shook her head, disappointed, and stared over Marcus’s shoulder. “No. It’s absurd.”

“Look,” Marcus said, clasping his hands on the table in front of him. “Mum and Dad wrote to me this morning, and apparently Umbridge wrote to them telling them how you and I were joining. I don’t want to join as much as you do, but Dad said he would be disappointed if we didn’t, so... and he said he’s going to check with Umbridge about our ‘status’ in the club.”

Cordelia swallowed. “Why do they try to monitor our every move even when we’re out of the house?”

“I don’t know. But I’m just telling you you should join just to stay off their radar,” replied Marcus, now leaning back in the chair. He licked his lips. “Just think about it. I don’t want you to get in trouble with them.”

“I’d rather stay out of trouble, too,” she groaned in reply, resting her forehead against the table. “I hate our parents.”

“Believe me, so do I. Especially after Max.”

The siblings stayed quiet for a moment, breathing the cold air and watching other shoppers maneuver in and out of shops on the opposite street, before Cordelia whimpered, “It’s his birthday next week, isn’t it?”

Marcus nodded solemnly. “Yeah.”

“Hm. Of course it’s on that fucking Saturday!” She lifted her head to meet her brother’s eyes. “Winnie’s forcing me to go to a meeting with her. I don’t want to go.”

“Was that why she was just here?”

“Yep. It’s gonna be mostly Gryffindors, too! The nerve of her!”

“Cordelia,” said Marcus lightly as he crossed his arms. “Gryffindors aren’t so bad!”

“What’s gotten into you?” she said suddenly, leaning over the table to press the back of her hand on his forehead. “Are you sick? Did you hit your head on something?”

“Oh, shove off,” he said, a blush rising to his cheeks. A blush! “I just think we give them more credit for being narcissistic arseholes than they deserve.”

His sister snorted. “Have you met Angelina Johnson? And why are you blushing, Marcus? Have you met someone?”

She giggled as his face turned redder. She poked him in the nose. “Who!”

Marcus hesitated before speaking, only because Cordelia slapped him in the shoulder and gave him a glare, forcing him to reveal who his mystery lover was. “Remember the girl from Diagon Alley? The one you said wouldn’t like my business or whatever?”

Her mouth fell open. “Melinda Fernsby? The Ravenclaw?”

Marcus laughed, a sound that Cordelia hadn’t heard come out of his mouth in months. Months! Her brother was finally happy, and that made her happy. For the first time in a few weeks, she felt her chest loosen and a smile bloomed on her lips. “Yeah, her.”

“That’s great!”

“I thought you would be upset.”

A frown replaced the newly formed smile on her face. “Why?”

“I didn’t think you would be too happy with me and a Ravenclaw.”

Cordelia grinned again, and this time the smile reached her eyes. “Are you forgetting Zach was a Hufflepuff?”

Marcus’s eyes widened. “I thought he was a Slytherin if I’m being honest-- from the way he acted--”

“No, you idiot!” She suddenly burst into laughter, and a charismatic look graced her brother’s features. He began to laugh, too, and suddenly everything seemed okay.

The two stayed this way for a moment, sharing the sibling bond that they hadn’t felt in the two years since the day that they both couldn’t speak about, a day that traumatized the two and split their relationship down the middle. But, on a day like this, Cordelia found herself wanting to be around her brother, a feeling that she hadn’t felt since her heart was broken.

Honestly, she was feeling good. And the euphoric feeling that made her insides feel like Felix Felicis and made her feel like she was floating on air made her agree to join the Inquisitorial Squad.

That was a decision that would soon come to haunt her, and one that would make her feel conflicted in her loyalty-- but Cordelia didn’t know that yet, and she was feeling happier than she had in the last month, and she wanted to continue to feel happy for as long as she could.

But, unfortunately, Cordelia Flint’s happiness never stayed for long.

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