TEMPUS INTERFICERE, HARRY POTTER

VIII. the slytherin scarf

𝖂hen she awoke the following morning, Cordelia Flint was in good spirits. It was a surprising fact, for the previous day had been somewhat a mess-- Max’s birthday wasn’t something she often liked to deal with, because it made her into a person she was not. It was, simply, a day that reminded her of the worst of humanity, and it was something she’d very much like to forget.

Winnie’s covert idea of distracting her from the painful memories resulted in them attending the Hog’s Head meeting which, to her surprise, gave her a good time. At least, it was, until Zacharias had decided that he would like to speak with her. What could he have to say that was so important? That he was, what, sorry? He broke her heart, and she didn’t want to hear bullshit excuses.

Her day had gone by relatively fast due to her mind swimming with thoughts, and by the time the sun had started to set, she was, somehow, still feeling good. It wasn’t a feeling that often came for her— she knew it would eventually fade.

So, still feeling moderately happy for the first time in weeks, she was sitting in the common room cross-legged on the couch with her Potions book in hand and quill in the other as she annotated the pages. A piece of parchment lay unrolled on the table in front of her, Cordelia Flint scribbled messily on the top.

As she wrote in her book (something that she knew Madam Pince from the library would freak out over, she’d seen it happen before: a particular incident from the second year of Theodore Nott writing in his Transfiguration book and getting kicked out of the library made its way to the forefront of her mind), a body slid into the chair beside her. Whoever it threw their bag onto the table with a loud thunk, causing their belongings to spill out onto the carpeted floor and an ink bottle to smash and stain Cordelia’s parchment. It dripped onto her shoes, discoloring them and making her grimace.

"Really?" She cursed under her breath. “Was that really necessary, Claire?”

“Sorry!” Claire Tamashiro waved her wand (muttering scourgify! as she did so) and the ink bottle repaired itself and her possessions flew themselves back into her book bag. “Really, Cordelia, I’m sorry! It was an accident, I swear.”

Cordelia simply glowered at her friend as she tore off the top of her parchment where the ink had spilled over her name. She dipped her quill in her own ink bottle that was beside it, rewrote her name, and then set it down to look up at Claire, who had an apologetic smile on her face. “What?”

She bit her lip before speaking. “I was just wondering if--”

Oh, no, not this again. Before the words were even out of the girl’s mouth, Cordelia pinched the bridge of her nose and let out a deep sigh. “If you ask me for the Defense Against the Dark Arts homework, I will strangle you.”

Claire narrowed her eyes as she adjusted the Phoenix pin that was in her hair. “Well, that is totally not what I was going to ask.” She cleared her throat, then added, after seeing the look on her friend’s face, “Don’t give me that look!”

The other girl let out a noise that sounded like an odd mix between a scoff and a laugh. “Why don’t you start doing your own work for a change?”

“Because,” Claire told her, as if she was lecturing a particularly dumb child who seemed to not understand anything, “I’m not interested.”

Cordelia gave her a quizzical look as she shut her textbook, Magical Drafts and Potions. ”Aren’t you the one who wants to be an Auror?”

“Yes,” she began, adjusting herself in the seat. She was wearing an odd-looking bright-pink dress that, even in its peculiar nature, complimented her nicely. Cordelia, on the other hand, was clad in a simple pair of jeans and a hoodie that she had stolen from her brother (and she was never planning on giving it back, no matter how much Marcus protested). “But, over at the Japanese Ministry of Magic, they’re keener on a Charms O.W.L.″

“Oh, they do, now?”

“Yeah! I don’t know why, but that’s what my mum said,” Claire told her. She rubbed her arms and shivered. “Bloody hell, it’s cold in here. You have a jacket I can wear?”

“If you want a jacket,” Cordelia probed, jabbing a finger in the direction of the girl’s dormitories. “You can go grab one. It’s, like, two steps away.” She focused her attention back onto the table, where her essay lay unfinished under the dim light of the light fixture above them.

“But--”

“I would recommend you listen to her, Clairo,” said a voice, and Cordelia glanced up to see Theodore Nott walking over in their direction, his book bag open and hanging over his shoulder. His hair was unkempt, quite unlike his usual neat hairstyle, and he seemed awfully tired. She didn’t have time to remark on this because he spoke, “You don’t want to get on her bad side, she’ll knock you right unconscious!”

“Believe me,” Claire said, not bothering to conceal her annoyed expression as she shot Cordelia an exasperated look. “I know what she’s like when she’s upset! Don’t you remember when I said that Marcus looked like a pig and she hit me across the head with her Charms book? I had a bloody lump on my head for a week.”

“Serves you right,” Cordelia huffed, leaning back against the seat. “What’s up, Theo? You look tired.”

He sat down across from them, setting his back gently down on the floor beside him (she wished Claire had done the same... the ink was still on her shoe and, unfortunately, she was still trying to learn the spell that Claire had used on her parchment to remove the ink. She was just going to have to deal with it for now. Bloody Claire). “I... had a long night.”

Before she even looked to the girl beside her, Cordelia already knew that there would be a smirk forming on Claire Tamashiro’s face-- and she was right (this just proved her point that she was never wrong-- she couldn’t wait to rub this in her face). Claire’s lips had curled into a wry but voluptuous smile and her eyebrows were raised in a way that suggested that Theo had been involved in some, well, suggestive things the night prior.

Cordelia, on the other hand, knew not to think of him that way. Although his reputation as a ‘player’ could be brought into the argument (if there was one, of course), she knew him well enough to know that he wouldn’t do anything with anyone unless he really, really liked them. He wasn’t a casanova like other boys (she didn’t want to name names, but... Draco Malfoy), and she was perfectly okay with that. Shooting a look at Claire, she asked, “Where were you, anyway? You missed dinner last night. And tonight.”

“I just wasn’t up to it,” he said simply, putting his arms behind his back and leaning back against the chair. “Not hungry.”

Claire snorted and suppressed a giggle. ”You, not hungry? I can hardly believe it. In fact, I don’t!"

“Claire, shut up, won’t you?” Cordelia told the girl as she crossed her legs, setting her Magical Drafts and Potions textbook beside her quill and parchment on the table in front of her. ”Anyways. Theo, you good?”

“What makes you think I’m not?” His tone was questioning, but there was an obvious undertone of annoyance. His eyes bore into hers as she watched him, wishing that she could read her best friend’s mind. Ultimately, she had never been a good Legilimens (not that she would ever want to be, she didn’t want to be like her godfather), so nothing came of it.

“I haven’t seen you all day. Not at breakfast, not at lunch, not at dinner, and you just show up now? A little odd, if you ask me,” She examined her small hands. “If something’s wrong, just fucking tell us so we can help. Right, Claire?”

She had just looked over to where Claire was seated, but the girl in the pink dress was not listening in the slightest-- she was in a silent laughing fit as she watched Draco Malfoy, who was standing on the opposite end of the room, in an extremely animated conversation with Pansy Parkinson who looked like she was just about reduced to tears. She pursed her lips and turned back to Theo, who was smiling to himself at the sight of her annoyance.

“They’re fighting again, huh?” he asked, nodding in the direction of the couple (Pansy was now crying and Draco was looking so frustrated that his cheeks were a bright pink). “What are they gonna do, break up and get back together again?”

“Wouldn’t be surprised,” Cordelia said. “How many times have they done that? Three, now, right?”

“Yep,” replied Theo, now returning his attention back to his friends. Claire, whose eyes were watering so much from her laughter (Cordelia didn’t know why she was laughing-- Draco and Pansy fought so often it wasn’t laughable anymore), did the same, but her eyes were still glazed over with her usual look of being unfocused. “Hey, I have a question.”

“Hm?” Cordelia reached for the bottle of water that was in her bag and took a large sip.

“What’s going on with you and Potter?” His voice was quiet, but loud enough for her to be stunned. She choked on the water that was just running down her throat.

"What?”

“What going on with you and--”

“No, I heard you!” She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. Her heart was suddenly beating at light speed, and Theo seemed to notice because he let out a low chuckle as she sat there, flustered. “You don’t need to be so loud!"

“I wasn’t-- I literally whispered--” He started, but Cordelia cut him off.

"Shhhh! If they hear--”

“Did you say, Potter?” Claire asked loudly, causing several heads in the vicinity to turn-- including Draco Malfoy, whose interest had suddenly peaked. Pansy ran off in the direction of her dormitory, crying harder than ever, and Daphne Greengrass (who had been sitting with Blaise Zabini in the far corner of the room) had perked up like a puppy who saw her favorite treat. None of them joined the three of them in their huddle around the table, but Cordelia could tell they were all listening. Merlin.

“It’s nothing! He just...” she cleared her throat, mind racing to think of an excuse as to why Theo would have mentioned him. “... let me borrow a quill in Defense Against the Dark Arts?”

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Draco’s eyes narrow, because it had, in fact, been him who let her borrow the quill (and, what a coincidence, it was the one she was using now). Theo and Claire nodded, but they both had drastically different expressions on their faces-- Claire looked convinced, but Theo, having known her for nearly all his life, gave her a look that certainly signified that he knew the truth.

“Oh, Merlin,” she began to pat herself down as if she was missing something (she was, in fact, not missing anything: she just needed an excuse to get out of there before she was interrogated by Draco Malfoy and his goons, and away from Theo’s condescending stare). “I think Winnie still has my... scarf. I’m going to go get it. Be right back!”

And she was grabbing her things and running out of the common room, much to the surprise of Claire, Theo, and those who had been listening in-- as she had turned out of sight, she heard Theo say, “I think I ticked a nerve, didn’t I?” And she swore she could hear Claire roll her eyes.

Her footsteps echoed in the corridor, loud and clear for all to hear. She trudged up the steps leading down to the dungeons, and once she had finally made it up to the first floor, she found herself walking in the direction of the Ravenclaw tower. Winnie really did have her scarf, but she wasn’t that pressed about whether or not she got it back. But if she returned to the Slytherin common room without her scarf, Theodore would get suspicious, and when he got suspicious, he got curious, which usually led him out to find the truth. And she did not want him to find out about her little crush on Potter.

Was it a crush, though? Cordelia had barely spoken to him, save for the time in the third year when she snapped at him for accidentally knocking her cauldron over and spilling its contents onto the floor during Potions. And the time that she had accidentally run into him on the train a few months ago.

Winnie seemed to think she was head over heels for Harry Potter. It wasn’t like that, though-- yes, one could say she was rather attracted to the bespectacled boy (his eyes were her favorite thing about him), but she was still recovering from her heart being broken like a piece of china. She was fragile, and she wasn’t going to throw herself into the arms of another boy just to get over another. That simply wasn’t her.

When she made it in front of the entrance to the Gryffindor common room (she was only able to get there because she had walked Winnie back countless times), she stood in front of the Fat Lady, trying to think of what the bloody password could be.

“Password?” asked the Fat Lady in her sing-song voice.

“Um, I’m just looking for my cousin, can you let me in for a moment?” She asked, hoping the portrait would just let her in, but she shook her head.

“Sorry, I can’t let you in without a password.”

“Oh, fuck this.” Cordelia muttered under her breath, ignoring the Fat Lady’s gasp at her profanity. She stared at the woman in the frame, racking her brains to try and think of the answer, but it wasn’t even on the tip of her tongue. In fact, it felt like it was all the way at the bottom of her shoes-- she was that far from understanding what the bloody answer could be. She said warily, crossing her arms in irritation, “Um, fairy lights?”

“Incorrect.”

“Fuck!” She started to pace back and forth in front of the door, her mind still working at a speed she nearly never used. This is why the sorting hat had decided Slytherin for her instead of Ravenclaw. “What is the bloody password?”

“Cordelia?” asked a soft voice from behind her, and she turned to Hermione Granger clutching a stack of books in her arms. Cordelia exhaled, relieved.

“Oh, hi,” Cordelia breathed. She stopped pacing. “I’m just trying to see if Winnie is inside, do you mind checking?”

“Oh, she’s not inside,” said Granger, a neutral expression on her face. Cordelia didn’t often like the girl, but she felt oddly comforted by her voice and her presence. “Last I saw her she was downstairs.”

Where downstairs? This was getting very, very frustrating, but before she could retort, Granger replied, “I saw Winnie tickling the pear. She’s probably in the kitchens.”

Of course, she’s in the kitchens... her cousin practically lived there at this point. She started off in the direction of it, and as she left, she said to the girl, “Thanks, Granger.”

“Hermione.” Granger corrected. She said ‘Balderdash’ to the portrait, and it swung open, and before Cordelia knew it, Hermione Granger was in the common room and the Fat Lady was swinging shut, blocking the bushy-haired girl from view.

The kitchens were, thankfully, not far. So she sped off towards them, hoping that she had her stupid scarf with her. Her footsteps echoed more in the dark corridor, and she passed a few familiar faces walking them, back to their respective common rooms before curfew (which was, when Cordelia checked her watch, in about an hour).

When she reached the pear, she tickled it, and the door swung open. The kitchen was bustling with house elves and, seeing that someone had entered, came rushing towards her. She was ambushed by them, but she didn’t mind it: to her, house-elves were special creatures. She had one at home, one called Jiminy, who was so very sweet. “Can Bonky get Miss anything?”

“Oh, no, thank you,” she told the little house-elf, Bonky, who simply bowed and let her continue on her way. She nodded back at him as he sped away, and when she turned her head, she saw Winnie, taking something out of a large, brick oven, with the help of someone else.

And that someone else was Harry Potter, and he had caught sight of her. He dropped the pan that was holding their odd-looking meal, but Cordelia was quick-- she whipped out her wand, muttered Wingardium Leviosa, and the board hovered a few feet off the ground, and Winnie jumped. She hadn’t been expecting that to happen, and when she laid eyes on her cousin, the girl was quick to smile.

"Cordelia! Come join us!”

“Oh,” Cordelia said, shaking her head and walking towards them. “No, thanks, I already ate--”

“No, I insist. You’ve got to try this.” Winnie sliced up the weird-looking thing on the tray (it looked like dough piled with sauce, cheese, and pepperoni, an odd combination in Cordelia’s opinion).“It’s called pizza.”

“Pizza?”

“It’s a muggle food,” said Potter, reaching over and picking up a plate from Cordelia’s other side. Winnie placed the piece of ‘pizza’, which was apparently what the thing was called, onto the plate. Potter handed it over to her. “It’s good. I like mine with mushrooms, but Winnie hates it. We’ve opted out of putting it on it, now.”

“You don’t like mushrooms?” Cordelia raised an eyebrow at her cousin, who was looking disgusted at the mention of the fungi. “How odd.” She took a bite (a small one-- she had just eaten dinner and didn’t feel like over eating) and immediately her mouth was filled with the combination that she was extremely satisfied with. Before she knew it she had eaten the whole piece. “Bloody hell, that’s good!”

“Right! I can’t believe we’ve never tried it before!” Winnie’s voice was full of glee as she spoke, and then she turned to Potter. “What else is there for us to try?”

“Well, there’s--” he began, but Cordelia cut him off. She pretended to be too engrossed in what she had come to see Winnie for so that her body would be distracted enough to not allow her to stutter or for her face to warm in a blush.

“Do you have my scarf?”

“Why would I have your scarf?” Winnie asked, tugging at the very scarf they were talking about that was hanging around her neck. Cordelia narrowed her blue eyes as she took a bite of pizza. “I’m not a Slytherin!”

“Haha, very funny,” she said. “I need it back.”

“Winnie, give it back,” said Potter, assuming the blonde had stolen it (which, in fact, she had!).

“Thanks, Potter, but I can handle this myself,” she told him, giving him a look. He didn’t back down, though, simply watched her for a moment before turning his attention back to his friend. This had given her a small bout of butterflies in her stomach that she ignored.

“I have a name,” said Potter, now tugging also on the scarf around Winnie’s neck. She fought for a moment but eventually allowed him to take it off her. He handed it over to Cordelia, and when he placed it in her open palms, his hand brushed hers and she shivered. It went unnoticed. “It’s Harry. Call me that.”

“Harry,” The name sounded foreign in her mouth, but she conceded to it anyway. “Harry. I like Potter better, but, well, if you’d rather be called that, then so be it.” She looked at him for just a fraction of a second too long, for his eyes were watching her so carefully that she got overwhelmed. Clearing her throat, she said, “Well, um, I guess muggle food isn’t so bad, is it?”

“Not at all,” Harry replied, a small smile appearing on his features.

Cordelia averted eye contact and looked over to Winnie who was eating her second slice-- her eyes, sparkling, were darting between the two in a way that suggested that she was enjoying every moment of their interaction. She gave her a look that said, loud and clear: don’t even think about it.

Her head was racing-- she didn’t remember saying goodbye to the two (the only thing her mind seemed to focus on was how Harry had said goodbye); she barely registered herself walking back to the common room; she didn’t notice how she ended up in her dormitory, on her bed, surrounded by the giggling girls of her dorm. Her brain was occupied, and for that she was glad.

Cordelia swore she could hear Winnie’s giggles before her eyes closed later when she was laying back in bed, finally in her area of comfort. It wasn’t Winnie Bulstrode’s grin of jubilation hat she dreamed about that night, nor was it the curious face of Theodore Nott and his many, many questions or a nightmare of Zacharias Smith tearing her apart all over again.

Her dreams were laced with the emerald green eyes that never failed to render her speechless.

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