Chapter 9 : Memories
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I stumbled along the corridor to peer into the bedroom, wanting to see Ollie but not wanting to intrude on her moments with Albus.
She was alone, curled into a ball at the edge of the bed. Her face looked strangely blank.
“Ollie?” I opened the door wider and stepped into the room.
She didn’t respond, but just pulled her knees up more tightly to her chest.
I stared. “What’s happened?”
I couldn’t remember her looking like this since school, when her parents occasionally made her feel so bad that she collapsed in on herself, or when Al’s Quidditch accident had left him unconscious and Ollie feeling lost. She wasn’t supposed to feel like this anymore. She was happy and generous and had everything she deserved.
I crossed the room and climbed into bed behind her, wrapping my arms around her.
Ollie turned her face towards me, keeping her body rigid, and a tear slid onto my neck.
I squeezed her more tightly.
“I’m here,” I told her. “Whatever’s going on, I’ll be here.”
I wasn’t sure my words would be very reassuring. I wasn’t really known for being there for people. But I meant it, this time. Seeing her like this made the whole world feel wobbly.
“What can I do to help? Shall I get Al?”
She shook her head in a sharp, jagged movement. I looked down at her face and swallowed. Her expression was desperate.
“You don’t want Al?”
She shook her head again. I bit my lip. I had no idea how to help her feel better. It had been a long time since I’d been her person to go to when she was sad, and even then I was never very good at it.
“What happened? Did he do something?”
Tears continued to trickle down Ollie’s cheeks but she didn’t answer.
“Has he hurt you?” My voice was rising. I tried to keep calm but wasn’t sure how to.
She pulled away from me and curled back into a ball, her back curving against my hip.
I wanted to help fix it but knew with absolute certainty that I was the wrong person to do it.
“I’ll be right back,” I told Ollie.
She didn’t give any acknowledgement that she’d heard me.
I reappeared by the gates to Malfoy Manor. In the dark they were fierce and imposing, and the sight of the mansion through the twisting iron made my heart speed up. I didn’t belong here. Not any more.
I lifted a hand to the gate and paused. A long time ago, in another life, I had access to this building. As Scorpius’s girlfriend, I was free to come and go as I pleased, and the Malfoys had adapted their security charms to accept my presence. I wasn’t sure if that was still the case.
I pushed the cool metal and sighed with relief when it bent at my touch, the bars weaving around each other and then parting to let me through and into the grounds.
The gardens were exactly as I remembered them: dark grass and tall, eerie sculptures that shone silver in the moonlight. I shivered and ran to the doors.
The silver door knocker was shaped like a serpent, twisting around itself and glaring at me with emerald eyes. I glared back at it and lifted it to knock.
I knocked again, starting to panic. Ollie was relying on me and it this didn’t work I had no idea what would. Tears were burning the back of my eyes and I crossed my arms around myself to keep warm.
I was about to give up and turn around when the door swung open.
Draco Malfoy stood in the doorway, wearing a loose black dressing gown. He looked like he was half asleep. I shrank back on the doorstep. Of all the people who wouldn’t be thrilled to see me return to England, Scorpius’s parents must have been top of the list.
“Cassandra! I can’t say I expected to see you here,” he said, looking faintly bemused.
I frowned. “I….I sort of thought if you were the one to answer the door you’d slam it back in my face.”
He shook his head. “Why would I do that?”
“Well…” I spread my arms out. He didn’t need me to remind him of the way I’d treated his son.
“It was a long time ago,” he said kindly. “And what you did wasn’t right. But I’d be a hypocrite if I continued to judge you based on your actions when you were at school. Your mistakes caused a lot of pain but I know quite a few people who’ve done worse.”
His smile vanished for a moment, and then he straightened his face again. “Anyway, I’m sure you haven’t turned up here in the middle of the night just to compare the unwise decisions of our pasts?”
“Right.” I felt stupid. I was supposed to be here for Ollie, not to talk about myself. “Could I see Scorpius?”
Draco looked surprised. “He doesn’t live here anymore.”
It was like my whole body wilted. Stupid stupid stupid. Why hadn’t it occurred to me that Scorpius wouldn’t still live in the same place? He graduated six years ago. I should have realised he’d probably moved out.
“Oh...um. Right. I’ll just...I’ll get going, then,” I stammered, backing away, trying not to cry.
“Here,” Draco said, reaching for something on the shelf behind him. “This is his card. It’s got his address on it.”
I grabbed it, thanking him in a rushed, garbled flurry of words as I drank in the address. Before he’d even closed the door, I was rushing back to the gates.
As soon as I was through the metal and out of the protected zone of Malfoy Manor, I span and disapparated.
I stumbled when I landed, falling down on the floor in the middle of a small kitchen. The floor was tiled with green and turquoise, and the cupboards were painted with cheerful animals that were definitely created by Ollie’s hand. It was brighter than I would have imagined Scorpius’s home to be. But then I didn’t really know him anymore.
My head hurt.
I groaned and looked around, wondering if I’d somehow made a mistake. Maybe in my panic I hadn’t focussed enough and had ended up in the wrong place.
“Did nobody ever tell you it’s rude to apparate straight into someone’s kitchen?” An amused voice sounded from behind me.
I turned my head, wishing I was anywhere else.
Scorpius was in the doorway, face pleasant but body tense. He was wearing a green knitted jumper that looked soft and comforting, over dark jeans and bare feet. His wand was in his hand. He noticed me looking at it and tucked it away in his jeans.
I felt uncomfortable. It struck me that this was probably the first time we’d been alone together since we were sixteen and in love. The thought made me sad.
“Sorry,” he muttered. “You hear someone apparating into your house and you get your wand out.”
“Doesn’t matter.” I pulled myself to my feet, feeling unbalanced. “We need to go.”
“Oh?” He raised an eyebrow.
“It’s Ollie. She’s by herself in her house. Something’s wrong.”
He didn’t wait for me to explain further, just disappeared with a loud crack, leaving me alone in his flat.
I shrugged and apparated after him.
I rushed back to Ollie’s bedroom and then stood awkwardly in the doorway, watching Scorpius go to her.
“Hey,” he murmured. “Hey, it’s okay. I’m here. I’ve got you.”
He pulled off his jumper and lifted Ollie into a seated position, carefully pulling the jumper down over her head to stop her shivering. Then he sat down behind her, leaning against the headboard, and pulled her back to sit by his side, leaning against his chest. She swung her legs over his so she was turned into him, and he wrapped both hands tightly around her and kissed the top of her head.
“It’s alright. I’m here. I love you,” he told her, stroking her hair.
She nodded against him and his grip visibly tightened around her.
He didn’t ask what was wrong, but she seemed so much more comfortable than she had when I’d tried to comfort her.
They were having a soft, whispered conversation that I couldn’t hear. Scorpius was gently coaxing words out of Ollie, pausing to stroke her hair and kiss her forehead when she shook with sobs.
After a few minutes, he looked back up at me.
“Go and get Al,” he instructed.
“But Ollie said…”
“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “She’s just trying not to cause problems. She wants him here.”
“I don’t know where he is,” I said.
Scorpius groaned. “He’s at James’s. That’s why Ollie didn’t ask you to get him in the first place. But he should be here.”
“No,” Scorpius snapped. “I need to stay here with Ollie. If you really want to stick around here being her friend, you can cope with going to James’s to tell her fiance that she needs him.”
In his arms, Ollie looked tiny and fragile. I took a deep breath and then nodded, resigned to disapparating again.
This time, I managed not to burst into someone’s house uninvited.
I landed on the doorstep outside James and Jason’s house and banged on the door, not stopping until Jason opened it.
“Don’t shut the door on me,” I said, jamming my foot into the door before he could close it. “I need Al. Please.”
He didn’t look like he wanted to let me in, but I suppose something in my face or voice was desperate enough that he didn’t want to argue. He stepped back and let me in. Part of me was horribly aware that it was less than 24 hours since I’d run away from this place, but I didn’t let myself think about it.
The corridor was gold and scarlet and covered with colourful moving photographs, but I hardly registered my surroundings. Jason nodded towards an open door and I hurried through it.
I found myself in a small sitting room that looked the way I’d always imagined Gryffindor Common Room to be. Three red squashy armchairs were arranged around a fireplace. James was sat in one of them, holding a glass of whiskey in his remaining hand. His eyes were red. Albus was kneeling next to the chair, one hand on his brother’s arm.
They both looked up as I walked in.
“Get out,” James said, sounding tired.
“I’m not here for you,” I told him bluntly. “Albus, you have to come. It’s Ollie.”
Albus jumped up, looking frantic, and then hesitated. He glanced back at James, who had slumped back in the chair.
“Jus’ go,” James said, waving his hand lazily, whiskey slopping over the sides of the glass. “M’okay. I’ve got Jace.”
Albus nodded and reached for my arm. His hand tightened around my elbow and, with a whoosh, the air around us squeezed and sucked us in, throwing us around until the colours blended together, and then spitting us out back in Ollie and Albus’s bedroom.
Scorpius and Ollie were exactly where I’d left them. Scorpius looked relieved that we’d arrived.
Albus crouched down beside the bed and took Ollie’s hands in his. He looked terrified and in love.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t here,” he said. “I love you so much. We’ll get through this.”
Scorpius slowly extricated himself from Ollie’s tangled limbs and let Albus move to take his place.
Ollie folded herself into Albus and draped her arms around his neck.
“I know it feels frightening,” Al said. “But it’s felt like this before, remember? We’ll get through it. It’ll feel better. And I’ll be here.”
I felt a little bit overwhelmed watching his tenderness. I knew that he was right for Ollie. I’d have to be an idiot not to notice the way they both lit up when they were together. But this was new and different. He knew her so much better than I could hope to. I couldn’t suppress a small twinge of jealousy: there was no way I could have been so confident that she’d feel better. But, not for the first time, I felt glad that she had someone like him.
Scorpius moved away from the bed and put a hand on my back to steer me out of the room, closing the door behind us.
Without talking, we scurried down the corridor and into the kitchen.
Scorpius reached up on top of the kitchen shelves and pulled down a bottle of scotch. I recognised it as the one his father always drank. Ollie must keep it on his behalf.
He tilted the bottle in my direction in an unspoken question. I nodded, and he poured two glasses, pushing one across the table towards me and then sitting down.
I sat opposite him and took a gulp.
“Thanks for coming to get me,” he said eventually.
“She told me not to get Al. I wasn’t sure what else to do,” I muttered. “I didn’t know how to help.”
It felt like I was confessing something. I was showing him that I no longer had any real claim over Ollie.
He nodded slowly. “There’s not much you could have done. You did the right thing getting help.”
I wanted to ask what had happened, but I thought he’d disapprove. It might sound like I was trying to gossip, or something, and I knew how protective he was of his oldest friend.
“This happens sometimes,” he said quietly.
“It’s happened before?” I was glad he’d given me the opening to ask.
He finished the rest of his drink and refilled the glass.
“Something bad happened. A few years ago. And Ollie, she got hurt.” He rubbed his eyes.
I put down my drink. I hadn’t expected this.
“It’s PTSD, I guess, although nobody’s ever actually diagnosed anything. But she panics sometimes when she’s at home by herself,” he said. “It hasn’t happened for a while now, I kind of thought maybe she was better. But...anyway, I’m glad you were here.”
“She was hurt?” I was whispering now, worried, perhaps, that Ollie would somehow hear me talking about her.
“Yeah,” Scorpius said, taking another swig of his drink. “She, um, well, it’s all over now. But being involved with a Potter kind of opens you up as a bit of a target for...some people.”
“What did they do?”
He groaned. “It doesn’t matter anymore. They got caught and now they’re in prison. But I guess that doesn’t really help her when she starts having flashbacks.”
“Sorry,” I said. “I didn’t mean to pry.”
“No, it’s fine,” he said. “I just find it hard to talk about. It was awful. I wanted to keep her safe...and I’ve never felt so powerless.”
I lifted my glass again and let my wrist dangle, swirling in loose circles so I could watch the smoky liquid ripple and shift. Scorpius obviously needed to talk, and I knew I wouldn’t be his first choice person to listen, but I was the one that was there.
“She was pregnant,” he said, looking directly at me. “Did she tell you that?”
“No,” I whispered. “No, she didn’t.”
“I thought she might have written to you. It was an accident, I think. She was nervous. But she was planning to keep it.”
I downed the rest of my drink. I thought back to the various letters I’d left unopened over the years, when I was too carefree and happy and buried in denial to face the words of the people I’d left behind. Had one of them been about this? Maybe she’d wanted to talk to me. It might actually have been something I could have understood.
“Didn’t end up mattering though,” Scorpius continued, sounding bitter. “Bastards didn’t care about it. She was eight months pregnant - they definitely would have noticed. But it didn’t change anything. She lost the kid when they attacked her.”
My eyes were welling up but I didn’t wipe the tears away. I thought back to my conversation with Albus, the night I’d arrived. I’d laughed at him for being a dad and had thought he looked hurt by the comment. I shouldn’t have forgotten it so quickly.
“Poor Ollie,” I moaned.
Scorpius shrugged. “It’s over now. And most of the time she says she’s okay. It’s just, every so often I think it all comes rushing back to her and if happens to be a night when she’s alone, it...well, you saw.”
“She’s lucky to have you,” I told him. “You’re good to her.”
“She’s my best friend,” he said simply. “And she’s surrounded by people that love her now. It’s different from school, when she just had us. She’s built up this massive family of people she adores. And she’s got Al. I think she’ll be okay.”
We sat in silence for a while, both finishing our drinks. I was surprised by how easy it had been to talk to him. It was a difficult conversation but it hadn’t felt hard to sit with him. We’d both changed so much since school. I had such vivid memories of loving him, but none of those feelings applied to the boy I was sitting with now.
“Scorpius,” I said after a while.
“Mm?” He was looking up at the painted ceiling, looking thoughtful.
“I...I’m not sure I ever properly apologised to you.”
He looked surprised. I was surprised. No part of me had expected to have this discussion with him any time soon. But it somehow felt appropriate. And now that I’d started I might as well finish.
“I’m sorry. Really, really sorry,” I said.
Scorpius smirked. “No worries. I reckon I’m just about over it.”
“No. What I did to you wasn’t okay,” I said. “And I know it was a long time ago now but that doesn’t excuse it, not really. You were only over lovely to me. And I took advantage of you and then treated you like you didn’t matter.”
“Yeah.” He looked a little bit uncomfortable now.
“I suppose I just want you to know that I was wrong. You did matter. And I know I made it look like I didn’t care, but at the time I did. I was just an idiot. And I always had questionable morals.”
He let out a short laugh. “You had no morals. And in my foolish teenage mind that made you sexy.”
This time, I laughed.
He smiled at me. “Do you ever wonder what would have happened if you hadn’t done it?”
“Hadn’t been with James? Or hadn’t had the baby?”
“Any of it,” he said, shrugging. “If we’d ended up staying together.”
I thought about it. When I’d first run away, I’d spent huge amounts of time imagining how my life could have been different if I’d held on to what I had with Scorpius instead of throwing it all away for James Potter. But now it didn’t seem to matter so much.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I think we both had a lot of growing up to do.”
“Speak for yourself,” he snorted.
I stuck my tongue out and passed him my empty glass to refill.
“I actually think I probably would have just found some other way to mess it up,” I said. “I was confused and self-centred and attention-seeking. I never really stopped to think about what I was losing until it was too late.”
He nodded. “Yeah, I don’t know how much longer we could have made it work. I worshipped you. And that’s not...very me. It didn’t occur to me until later that I was losing bits of myself so I could be with you.”
I laughed and had another drink. “That’s very profound of you.”
“Well, I’m dating Rose Weasley now. I think the brains rub off,” he grinned.
“I heard about that. I’m happy for you.”
I was surprised to find that I actually meant it. I really did feel happy for him.
“Thank you,” he said.
“No, really,” he said. “Thank you.”
“For being happy for you?”
“And for saying sorry.”
He lifted his glass up to me and I clinked mine against it.
“Who would have thought we’d be able to get back to this point?” He said with a grin.
I shook my head. “Not me.”
“Me neither. I used to spend hours planning all the horrible things I’d say to you if I had the chance.”
“I would have deserved it.”
“Yeah,” he grinned. “But this is better, I think.”
He finished his drink and stood up.
“Okay, I’m going to head home. I have to be up early to do some work before this wedding brunch thing.”
“I forgot about that,” I groaned. I hadn’t expected to have to see James and Jason again so soon.
He laughed. “It’ll all be over soon. I don’t want to interrupt Al and Ollie, and I’m sure they’re fine now, but you know where I am if she needs me?”
“I’ll come and get you.”
We looked at each other for a moment, both not quite sure how to say goodbye. In the end, he stepped forwards and gave me a quick hug. His arms felt strangely unfamiliar but before I had time to really think about it he pulled away and disapparated.
I finished my drink and headed into the spare room. I felt strange going to sleep without checking Ollie was okay but, like Scorpius, I thought she’d probably be better off just with Al.
I curled up in bed, letting the events of the day wash over me. Only this morning, I’d woken up in James Potter’s bed. Since then, so much had changed. I had a new friendship with Louis, and thought I’d found a way to help make James feel better. I’d fixed things with Scorpius, at least as much as they were ever going to be fixed.
I wanted to feel good about it all, but I kept picturing Ollie’s expressionless face when I’d found her. The story Scorpius had told had left me feeling tense and sad. I wished I’d been here to help Ollie through it all. I hated that I was only hearing about it years later.
Sleep took a long time to arrive, and when it did it was turbulent and stressful.
At some point in the early hours of the morning, the door slid open and Ollie padded into the room. I watched her drowsily, unsure what was going on. She didn’t say anything and just climbed up into bed beside me, like we used to do at sleepovers when we were fourteen.
“Thank you, Cass,” she whispered, reaching out to take my hand. “Sorry if I scared you.”
I shook my head even though she wouldn’t be able to see it in the dark.
“Sorry for being such a shitty friend,” I murmured.
“No,” she said, and I could feel her own head shake. “You’re here now. That’s what counts.”
I wasn’t sure that was right, but I was glad she didn’t hate me. I squeezed her hand.
“Love you, Cass,” she whispered sleepily.
“Love you too.”
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