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Chapter 3 : Albus Potter Has A Hero Complex
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For the rest of the holidays, I kept time spent with my parents to an absolute minimum, sleeping at Scor’s or Cassie’s as much as I could. Mum and Dad were dancing around each other, alternating between being overly, unconvincingly civil, and snapping at each other. I preferred to stay out of it.
I’d apparently promised several months ago to revisit the Madhouse and spend New Year’s Eve with my messy family but, when the night came, I stepped straight into the fireplace without bothering to tell them where I was going.
My parents were both sitting on the sofas by the fireplace but neither of them tried to stop me as I chucked a handful of Floo powder into the flames and called out Cassie’s address.
Their glazed, disappointed faces faded as the world blurred around me and I started to spin.
“You, my friend, are late,” Cassie sang, catching me as I fell out of the fireplace at the other end of the Floo.
She was wearing a very black, very short dress with very shiny, very tall silver shoes, and she was drinking something bright red and fizzy. She was swaying a little in her shoes and her drink was splashing violently from side to side, but she somehow managed not to spill any of it.
“Drink,” she instructed, pushing me towards a table littered with colourful bottles.
I poured myself a gillywater, taking time to add lime and Firewhiskey, and to properly salt the rim of the glass. I knew that later on I’d probably lower my standards for drinking, but it was nice to start by treating New Year's like a special occasion and drink something classy.
“Everyone’s in the lounge,” Cassie told me. “Come.”
She reached out a hand and I took it, letting her drag me into the main room of the tiny apartment she shared with her brother Andreas.
Scor was lounging back on the battered leather sofa next to Andreas, both of them scowling like it was a competition. A guy I vaguely recognised as having been in Slytherin when we were younger was sitting on the floor, leaning against the empty, dusty bookshelf and smoking.
The flat was tiny but what it lacked in size it made up for in location. It was just off Diagon Alley and felt like an exciting place to be. And Cass and Andreas both didn’t invest a lot of time and energy into decor, so they didn’t exactly need a bigger place.
“Hey, Ollie,” Andreas said with a lazy smile. His eyes were a little unfocused in a way that probably didn’t come from alcohol alone. I decided not to mention it. If her brother’s use of recreational magic didn’t bother Cassie, it shouldn’t bother me.
“Who’s your friend, Andi?” I asked, nodding across the room at the mysterious smoking man.
“This is Sebastian Pucey. Seb, this is Olivia Bell.”
Sebastian looked me up and down, face frozen in an elegant sneer. Something about the way he looked at me made me feel strangely exposed. I stood up a little bit straighter.
“Pleasure to meet you, Olivia Bell,” he said, voice low and husky. “Looking forward to getting properly acquainted.”
“You’re a Pucey? So you’re related to Cesario? In fourth year?” I asked, deciding against joining in with the flirty tone.
Sebastian looked irritated but accepted the change in mood.
“He’s my half-brother. You know him? I thought you were older.”
I shrugged. “We play Quidditch together. He’s a pretty good Keeper.”
“Not good enough,” Scor joined in. “Ollie’s good at sneaky shots. Cesario’s slow to see what she’s planning in training. He needs quicker reflexes.”
“Be nice,” I told him. “He’s only little.”
I squeezed onto the sofa between Scorpius and Andreas, trying not to spill my drink on either of their legs.
Cassie plonked herself down on the floor and leaned back against Scor’s knees, demanding that he stroke her hair.
“Drink quickly,” Andreas said, draping one arm around my shoulders. “This new club’s opening down the road tonight. We thought we should investigate.”
He was holding his own bottle of Firewhiskey, drinking it neat, and topped up my drink with it.
I leaned against him and frowned. “I’m not seventeen yet. They won’t let me in.”
“That won’t be a problem,” Sebastian said smoothly. “I know the owner.”
“Don’t worry, Ollie,” Cassie said, tipping her head back over Scor’s knee to look up at me. “It’ll be fun. We haven’t been dancing for ages.”
“I’ll take you home if you decide you’ve had enough,” Scor said quietly.
“But you won’t have had enough,” Cassie said sharply. “Come on. Drink up.”
“You’re all such terrible influences.” I wrinkled my nose and forced myself to swallow the rest of what was now a fairly horrible drink.
“Nah, you just have catching up to do,” Andreas said, refilling my glass. “We’ve all been here for an hour already.”
When I didn’t immediately drink, Andreas lifted my glass up towards my lips. I scowled at him and he wiggled his eyebrows.
“Okay,” Scor said, looking businesslike. “We have a New Year’s tradition. We make resolutions before we go out and then we have to complete them before midnight.”
“Isn’t that not really how New Year’s resolutions work?” Andreas raised an eyebrow. “Pretty sure they’re for the new year.”
“Don’t be boring,” Cass said, sticking her tongue out at her brother. “We like to do things differently. We make the resolutions now and then we have three hours to do them. It’s our last chance to try something new this year.”
“Whatever. You start then,” Andreas said.
“With pleasure,” Cass said. “This year I’m going to punch a Gryffindor.”
“Not allowed, love,” Scor laughed. “You’ve done it before. It has to be something new.”
“True. A Ravenclaw, then.”
“You’ve done that too.” I nudged her with my foot and took a swig of my disgusting drink.
“Have I really? Damn, I’m good,” Cass said. “I forget how hilarious I am. I guess it’ll have to be a Hufflepuff.”
“Good luck with that,” Scor smirked. “You seriously think we’ll find any Hufflepuffs in a club?”
“You’re so right. Okay, this year I’m going to...get someone older than forty to buy me a drink.” Cass grinned mischievously.
“Do you have to?” Scor frowned.
“Couldn’t you just punch someone older than forty?”
“I’ve probably done that too.”
“But do you really have to go and flirt with old men?”
“Stop making a fuss,” Cassie laughed. “It’s just a drink, Scor. Anyway, your turn now.”
Scorpius frowned and fiddled with Cassie’s hair.
“Go on,” she said, sounding bored.
“This year I’m going to, um,” Scor said, looking down at his hands. “This year I’m going to tell somebody I love them.
I waited to see if Cassie would say anything but she just took a gulp of her drink and looked down at the floor.
Scor looked uncharacteristically insecure, taking his hands out of Cassie’s hair and playing with his fingers instead.
“This year I’m going to kiss somebody I’ve just met,” I said, speaking up before the silence had a chance to grow more painful.
Scor shot me a grateful, slightly uncomfortable smile, and Cass laughed.
“You’re so boring, Ollie,” she said. “Sleep with someone you’ve just met instead.”
“She’s made her resolution now,” Scor said. “She’s not allowed to change it. That’s the rules.”
“Alright,” Sebastian grinned. “I’ll go with that one. This year I’m going to sleep with someone I’ve just met.”
He shot me a somewhat predatory grin. I gave him a half smile back.
“Andi. Your turn.” Cass looked accusingly at her brother.
Andreas rolled his eyes. “This year I’m going to go to a new club. This game’s stupid.”
“You cheater,” Cass gasped. “Make a real resolution.”
“Nah,” Andreas smirked. “I heard it was against the rules to change a resolution. Come on. Let’s go out.”
“Ollie needs to finish her drink,” Scorpius said.
“You’re so slow, Ollie,” Cass said. “Drink up. I want to dance.”
She finished off the rest of her own drink and clapped her hands together.
I took another gulp of my drink and winced.
“You finish it,” I told her. “It’s too strong. And I can’t drink as much as you can.”
Cassie shook her head and cackled.
“Absolutely not,” she said. “I brought my own drinks and finished them. Come on. You’re letting the side down.”
“Well, you can carry me home when I pass out,” I said, forcing myself to drain the rest of the glass.
“I look forward to it,” Cass said.
Scor laughed and kissed Cassie’s forehead. She grinned up at him and then clambered up to her feet.
“Come on team. Time to go.”
Cass slid an arm around my waist and kissed my cheek sloppily. I grinned and wrapped an arm round her shoulders. We don’t usually have a particularly touchy-feely friendship but it’s fine when we’ve been drinking.
She dragged me to walk ahead of the guys, both of us clinging to each other and laughing.
A man across the street whistled at us and Cass blew him a kiss and tried to wink, squinting in a way that would make somebody less beautiful look ridiculous. The man looked amused and turned a corner.
“Nice winking skills,” I said. “He looked pretty impressed.”
“I thought so. My skills of seduction are unparalleled.”
“It amazes me that he managed to resist.”
“He’ll probably dream about me tonight,” Cass smirked.
“Probably definitely.” I tripped over slightly and Cassie grabbed my arm. I kissed the air in the general vicinity of her face. “You having a nice night, Cass?”
“It’s New Year’s Eve. Of course I am. Everything is lovely jubbly.”
“Good for you. You’re not worried about what Scor said?”
“What is there to worry about?”
“Well...you heard him.”
Cass stopped walking and looked at me, pouting slightly. “Yeah, I heard him. Does it matter?”
She doesn’t try to sound bitchy. She just isn’t used to thinking too deeply about her feelings. Or about anyone else’s feelings.
“He said he was going to tell someone he loves them, Cass,” I said. “And he doesn’t love me, and he doesn’t love Andreas, and he doesn’t love that other guy. I can’t remember that other guy’s name. What’s his name? Anyway, by process of elimination I conclude that this means he loves you. And he’s going to tell you that. Tonight.
“I know he loves me.” Cassie shrugged. “He can tell me if he wants to.”
“But you don’t love him back?” I stuck out my bottom lip and gave her a hugely exaggerated sad face.
“Come on, Ollie. We’re both too drunk to have this conversation. Well, mainly you. You’re too drunk to have this conversation. We can talk about it another time.”
She leaned into me for a moment. She was warm and her hair tickled my face.
“But Cass, this is important.”
“You know what else is important?” She grinned conspiratorially. “Dancing.”
“Yes,” I agreed. “This is very true and right. Wait. No. Stop changing the subject. This is about Scor. You might make him sad.”
“He’s a big boy. He’ll be okay.”
“He’ll be fine, Ollie,” she said, voice suddenly colder. “I think I know him a little better than you do.”
“If you say so.”
“I could do without your judgement, Ollie,” she snapped. “I can look after myself.”
She was cross with me and I didn’t want her to be, but I also didn’t want to back down and apologise when I knew I was right. I love her but I love Scor too and it isn’t fair for her to act like his feelings don’t matter. Cass struggles with getting close to people and I understand that, probably more than anyone else, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to hurt Scorpius.
I could see her tight frown and sighed. It wasn’t worth a fight, and my thoughts were jumbled up with Firewhiskey. She might not have been right to ignore the problem, but she was right about it not being the best time to talk about it.
“I know you can look after yourself.” I gave in.
“Good,” she said, brightening. “Look. We’re here.”
She nodded across the street to a club called ‘Pumpkin Carriage’. Its name was lit up in muggle-style lightbulbs and the door was open to reveal smokey purple light. A long queue snaked its way from the door all the way down the road and around the corner. Lots of the people queueing looked like they were recent Hogwarts graduates, with a few familiar faces from school obviously hopeful to get in despite being underage.
“It looks so full,” I said, spinning around and getting read to go back to Cassie’s flat. “We should just have a sleepover and get drunk. A much better plan.”
Cassie shrugged and grabbed my hand, turning me back around and dragging me towards the door, not bothering to join the queue. She has the easy confidence that comes from being extraordinarily and effortlessly beautiful, and it’s hard to argue when she has a plan.
A bulky man with a violet skull tattooed across his face held up a hand to stop us walking through the door. I tried to hide behind Cass. The man was scary. But she pulled me back out to stand next to her. She looked ready to argue with the scary man but was saved the necessity of doing so by a hand at her shoulder. Andreas’s friend. The one with the name I couldn’t remember.
“They’re fine, mate,” he said. “They’re with me.”
The scary man raised a tattoo-covered eyebrow but nodded, stepping out of the way to let us past. Andreas’s friend put an arm around my waist to guide me inside. We waited just by the door for Scorpius and Andreas to catch up, and then Cass led us towards the bar.
“I’ll get the first round of drinks,” she called over her shoulder as she pushed in front of us to head over to the bar.
The crowd parted around her, the tinted lights above her illuminating her golden head in vivid shades of blue and green and red. The men she pushed past watched the sway of her hips, their dance partners dragging their faces back to look at them instead. Cass swayed past them, ignoring their gazes.
“She’s really quite something, your sister,” friend-whose-name-I-couldn’t-remember said, leaning towards Andreas.
“She’s also really unavailable,” Scorpius glared.
“No need to get possessive,” friend-whose-name-I-couldn’t-remember said with a mocking smile. “Just making an observation.”
“Well, don’t.” Scorpius was glowering and I rested a hand on his arm for a second. He doesn’t usually show a lot of emotion, but when he loses his temper he loses it badly. And Cass breaks down his barriers like nobody else can. It wouldn’t be the first time he lost it with someone for talking about her.
“Breathe, Scor,” I muttered. “You know she only has eyes for you.”
He nodded once - a stiff, quick, Malfoy-speciality nod that showed he wasn’t happy but was enough to reassure me that he wouldn’t do something stupid - and I let go of him.
Andreas looked amused. He’s always enjoyed it when Scor’s uncomfortable.
“Chill, Scorp,” he said. “We’re all friends here.”
Scor ignored him. He doesn’t like being called Scorp. And he doesn’t much like Andreas.
“Yeah. Chill, Scorp,” said friend-whose-name-I-still-couldn’t-remember.
Scor had one fist clenched, making his already pale knuckles unnaturally white. I shook my head at him. The motion made me feel dizzy. I didn’t like Andreas’s boring friend. He was making Scor sad. And Scor deserved only lovely feelings.
“You’re being mean,” I said, looking suspiciously at Andreas’s boring friend. “Who even are you?”
“Don’t be rude, Ollie,” Andreas said, reaching out to ruffle my hair. “You’ve spent all evening with him.”
“Ah, but I do not know what name he is known by,” I said loftily. “It’s something pretentious and stupid like, um, Salisbury, or Sylvester, or Shithead.”
Andreas snorted. Scor looked a bit happier.
“Oo, I know. It’s Satan, isn’t it?” I looked at Andreas’s friend, feeling unreasonably proud of myself.
“Sure, honey. It can be Satan if you want it to be,” he said, looking bemused.
Any remaining tension was eased by Cass staggering back to the group, tripping over her heels but still managing to balance a tray of full-to-the-brim shot glasses without spilling any of the precious liquid.
“I’ve got us all different colours to suit our sparkling personalities,” Cass said cheerfully. “Scor, you get green, because you love Slytherin more than the rest of us do and I like you best in green boxers. Andi, you get pink because you’re not particularly manly and you need to be more comfortable with that.”
Andreas stuck his tongue out at his sister, then caught Satan’s eye and blushed.
“Sebastian,” Cass continued. “You get blue because you seem quite boring like a Ravenclaw.”
I laughed, delighted that Cass had also realised how boring he was.
“He’s not called Sebastian,” I said. “He’s called Satan. Aren’t you, Satan?”
Satan smiled and nodded patiently. “Apparently so, yes. Olivia has decreed that I’m now known as Satan. Does that make me any less boring?”
“Nope. You still get boring blue,” Cass said, pushing the glasses towards the guys, leaving three shorts of opaque white liquid and two of flaming black on the tray.
“Guessing I get the white ones?” I reached for a glass. Cass usually drinks whatever she thinks looks most exciting, and the deep black liquid coated in dancing flame definitely met her usual criteria.
“Nope. Not tonight,” she said, firmly pushing my hand onto one of the black glasses. “I get white ones. To match my angelic soul.”
She picked up one of her own drinks. “Cheers. To another year of being fabulous.”
I drank both shots in quick succession. They burnt my throat and I wrinkled my nose at the sting, but they left a thick, not-unpleasant treacle flavour on my tongue.
Cassie quickly swallowed her third drink and then beamed at the rest of us.
“Okay, gentlemen,” she said. “Ollie and I have an important date with the dancefloor. We’ll come and find you later.”
Scor sighed and kissed her forehead, obviously resigned to spending another night with Andreas. Cass blinked up at him and he smiled a smile he saves only for her.
“Go have fun,” he told her, nudging her towards me.
I followed her through the crowds to the middle of the dancefloor, recognising a few faces from Hogwarts but not bothering to acknowledge them. When Cass seemed satisfied that we were in the direct centre of the room she turned to face me, resting her hands on my shoulders to dance together.
When I’m sober I find it stressful dancing with Cassie. I’m not even close to being as beautiful as she is, and she makes even the most ridiculous dance moves look sexy and skillful. When I’m less sober I stop feeling self-conscious and don’t care that I don’t look as good as she does.
I jumped up and down, swishing my hair back and laughing at Cassie’s sultry poses.
“You’re a terrible dancer, Ollie,” she laughed.
“Nope. You’re really, truly…”
“Wonderful? Beautiful? Fabulous?”
“Atrocious at dancing.”
I stuck my tongue out. “You don’t mean it. You love my dancing.”
She shook her head. “I’m genuinely a little bit embarrassed to be seen with you right now.”
She’s pretty but she’s mean. I told her so. She laughed again.
“When you say embarrassed, you mean joyful, right?” I grinned.
She scoffed. “I don’t do joyful. I do cool and cutting.”
This is very true. It’s good that she recognises this quality in herself.
“And joyful?” I tried hopefully.
“If you say so,” Cass sighed. “Look. Hot middle-aged man.”
She pointed towards the bar, where a tall man with chiseled cheekbones and silver-streaked hair was leaning forwards and talking to a pretty barmaid who must have been half his age.
“Look. Your hot boyfriend.” I pointed to the other side of the dance floor, where Scorpius was standing and talking to Andreas and Satan, one eye watching us.
“Haha. I’ve not forgotten about him, I promise,” Cass said. “I just need to get someone to buy me a drink, remember? Come.”
She started to walk away without waiting for me to agree. I reluctantly stopped dancing and struggled to keep up with her, pushing through crowds of dancers who didn’t move away from me as easily as they did from her. Cass’s crazily high heels kept the top of her head in sight.
By the time I reached her, Cass was already talking to the man, batting her eyelashes and biting her lip and asking him to surprise her with something exciting to drink.
The man gave the barman a signal, and he brought over a bright green frothy drink in a tall, thin glass.
“Thank you,” Cassie drawled, turning away from the man and linking her arm through mine to walk away from him.
The man called out indignantly but Cass kept walking and he didn’t try to follow. When we glanced back he was already talking to another girl, who didn’t look much older than us. We stood at the edge of the dance floor and Cass tipped back her head and laughed.
“There we go,” she said, sounding pleased. “Done my resolution for another year. Here, have the drink.”
She passed me the ominous looking green liquid. The glass was cold.
“What? Why?” I tried to give it back to her.
“Because you’re funny when you’re drunk,” Cass laughed, voice trailing away as she looked at something over my shoulder. I turned to see Scorpius watching us.
“Go, Cass,” I instructed. “It’s nearly midnight. I know you want to be with him.”
I gave Cassie a gentle push in Scor’s direction.
“Are you sure? You’ll be alright by yourself?”
Cass was already walking away from me, so I didn’t take her reluctance particularly seriously.
“I’ll be fine,” I said to her retreating back, but I don’t think she heard me.
I downed the drink she’d given me, suddenly deciding Cass was right and more alcohol probably was a sensible suggestion, and then turned to head back onto the dancefloor.
I found my way blocked by a person.
“SATAN! It’s you!”
Satan shook his head, looking amused, and took my arm.
“Hey, Olivia. Have you been abandoned?”
“Cassie’s got other fish to fry,” I whispered loudly.
“Other fish to what?”
“Plenty of other fish in the sea.”
I didn’t have a clue what I was saying. The drink had gone to my head unexpectedly quickly.
“You’re a strange one, Olivia Bell.”
“That’s unkind. It’s no wonder you’re named after the devil.”
“It’s not unkind. You are strange. It’s ten to twelve on New Year’s Eve and you’re talking to me about fish…”
“Fishes. Because there is more than one fish,” I said proudly.
I tried to pull Satan onto the dancefloor - dancing is very important to me - but instead found myself stumbling. It was like my feet weren’t attached to me anymore, and my legs felt horribly heavy and unfamiliar. The floor was dangerously close to my face when Satan’s arms tightened around me and he pulled me back to my feet.
“Careful, Olivia Bell,” he said, not letting go of me. His face was very close to mine.
“I’m always careful,” I said.
“Sure. So tell me...have you kissed that person you’ve just met yet?”
I blinked at him. His eyes were very dark. Very very dark.
“No. Not yet.”
“You need any help with that?”
I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t remember how to use words.
His arms were warm and strong, still holding me up. I thought I’d fall without them.
I rested one hand on his chest, trying to keep myself standing straight.
And then he kissed me.
His lips were rough and forceful. He slipped his tongue into my mouth and tightened his grip around my waist. It felt more intense than kisses I’d had before.
I tentatively lifted my own arms and tried to put them around his neck. My hands were shaking even though I told them to stop, and I found it hard to judge where he was even though my eyes were open.
Around us, I could hear people counting down to the New Year.
The sound was muffled. It felt wrong. I didn’t like what was happening.
As the room around us exploded into cheers and shouts of ‘Happy New Year’, Satan backed me against the wall behind us, his hands moving up below my top.
I tried to pull away from him, or as far away as I could get given that he was pressing me into a wall.
“Stop...I don’t...what are you doing?”
“What you wanted me to,” he breathed, hands moving higher up my back.
“I don’t...No. I don’t want this.”
“Don’t be silly. We’ve been flirting all night.”
His hands were too high up now, and moving round to my front. The world was blurry around me and I couldn’t focus properly on his face. My head was spinning.
“I don’t feel right,” I tried to tell him, but I’m not sure it came out clearly. “I think something was in my drink.”
I don’t know if he heard me. He didn’t act like he’d heard me.
“I think...I think I want to find Scorpius now.” I couldn’t think straight.
“Come on, Olivia,” he said. “We’ve hardly got started.”
And then his tongue was back in my mouth and his hands were roaming again.
I tried pressing my hands down against his chest but he didn’t budge, so I did the only thing I could think of and bit down on his tongue. Hard.
Merlin swore. Loudly.
“What was that for? Bitch.”
I get called ‘bitch’ a lot. I’m in Slytherin. It comes with the territory. But this time it made me feel scared.
“Just...leave me alone,” I mumbled, fumbling with the wall behind me, trying to find something to hold onto.
“Aw, you don’t mean that,” Satan said, leaning towards me again.
I scrambled sideways, nearly falling over.
“Is there a problem here?”
Satan took a step back. I shuffled further along the wall to get away from him and looked round to see who’d spoken.
Well, that makes sense. Gryffindors love a chance to save the day.
“There’s no pwoblem, pwetty boy,” Satan said with a sneer. He was slightly less intimidating now that his bitten tongue made his words unclear.
Potter didn’t acknowledge him and instead looked at me with wide, worried hazel eyes. His black hair was messy around his face and he looked kind.
“Bell?” He said softly. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” I said, glaring at him because it’s very important to glare at Gryffindors.
“You didn’t look fine.” His voice was quiet and understanding. For some reason that was hugely annoying.
“I’m...I’m okay, really.”
Unfortunately, my insisting I was okay coincided with another wave of dizziness and nausea, and Potter had to step forwards to hold me up. It slightly undermined my point.
“Look, I should take you home,” he said. “Where are your friends? Are Malfoy and Selwyn here?”
He set me back up on my feet and then stepped away to look out into the crowd.
“Look, Potter,” Satan said, voice now back to normal. “I get that Daddy’s famous and it’s made you think you can butt into everyone else’s business. But she said she’s fine. Go away.”
Without really thinking about it, I took a step away from Satan and towards Potter.
Potter put a gentle arm around my shoulder. I didn’t want to shake him off.
“I suggest you back off,” Potter said, calmly looking straight at Satan. “She’s my friend. She’s underage and she’s not sober. You’re not going to hurt her.”
I don’t know what planet Potter’s been living on, but ‘friend’ is definitely pushing it. I’m not sure we’ve actually ever spoken, and if we have I can say with certainty that we won’t have exchanged any nice words.
“Al? What’s going on?”
Great. More Gryffindors.
James Potter and Louis Weasley stepped between Potter and Satan, followed by none other than the Moron.
The Moron looked surprised to see me.
Figures. I was surprised to see him too.
“Hey, Moron. Figured you’d be sipping champagne at the Madhouse roundabout now,” I said, trying to be witty but still slurring my words.
“Didn’t want to risk running into you,” Jason said coolly. “Looks like I made the wrong decision though.”
“Looks that way,” I said.
I tried to pull away from Al but immediately fell over again. He pulled me back up to my feet, looking anxious.
Jason stepped forward and put an arm round me on my other side.
“What’s happening, Al? You two okay?” He looked over my head to give Albus a worried look.
“Bell was just having some trouble from this loser,” Potter said, nodding towards Satan.
“Right. I’m the loser,” Satan said, but he looked bored now and wasn’t really putting any effort into insulting Potter.
“Think it’s about time for you to get moving,” Jason said pointedly. “Leave my cousin alone.”
Satan shrugged. “Whatever. You’re not worth it anyway, Olivia Bell.”
I watched him turn his back on us, and then leaned on Albus’s shoulder, embarrassed to find tears stinging my eyes. All four Gryffindor boys crowded around me, asking if I was okay and if I needed anything and how I was going to get home. Even the Moron seemed concerned.
Stupid Gryffindors. Stupid Albus Potter and his stupid hero complex. I was fine.
“Ollie! We’ve been looking for you.”
Cassie pushed through the Gryffindor swarm, dragging Scor behind her.
“What was happening with Sebastian?” Scor asked. “I tried to come over but it was hard to get past everyone during the countdown.”
“You shouldn’t have left her by herself, Cassandra,” Potter said. I wondered how he was on first name terms with Cassie. He hadn’t called me by my first name.
“Ollie can look after herself,” Cassie said. “She’s not a Hufflepuff, Albus. Keep your knickers on.”
She tucked her arm through mine and kissed my cheek, pulling me away from Potter.
“It’s not a joke,” Potter said, stepping forward. “She looks like she might have had a spiked drink. She shouldn’t have been dealing with that by herself.”
“She’s fine,” Cass said, rolling her eyes. “She just can’t hold her drink.”
Potter looked at me, as if waiting for me to contradict her, but I kept quiet.
Big Potter (James) put a hand on his brother’s arm.
“Come on, Al. Let’s go home. She’s with her friends now. Cassie will look after her.”
“Thank you, James,” Cass said. “Listen to your big brother, Albus.”
She smiled sweetly. None of the Gryffindors moved.
Scor took my arm, the one Cassie wasn’t holding.
“Let’s get out of here,” he said. “I’ll make you tea.”
I nodded and tried to move with him, but Smaller Potter (Albus) gave me a look that held me still for a moment.
“You sure you’re okay, Bell? It’s okay to feel upset.”
“Of course she’s okay,” Cassie answered for me. “She’s a Slytherin. She doesn’t need saving. Come on, Ollie.”
I didn’t look back at the others as we walked away and out of the club.
As soon as we got outside and down the street, I dropped to my knees and leant forwards to throw up. Cassie sighed and knelt down beside me to hold back my hair. Scor rubbed my back.
“How come you’re on speaking terms with the Potters?” He asked Cassie while I vomited.
“Prefect rounds,” Cassie said. “James had the bright idea of matching up prefects from different Houses for patrols, and lucky me got matched with Albus. Albus insisted it was weird to spend several hours a week without calling each other by name.
James Potter was Head Boy and his brother was a prefect. But this didn’t actually explain why she also called Big Potter by his first name. Prefects didn’t spend that much time with the Heads. I was too busy throwing up to ask about it though.
“I forget you’re a prefect, Scor said, frowning. “Bloody stupid decision on Slughorn’s part.”
“Apparently it was process of elimination. Alani said she was too busy with her debating and her studies to take on something else, and Titania’s too superficial and silly and would have no authority. Emilia never talks, and Ollie’s not bright enough.”
“Don’t be mean, Cass.” Scor sounded tired.
“What? Ollie doesn’t mind. Her grades speak for themselves.
“Well, maybe you should ask what Ollie thinks, instead of deciding for her.”
His voice was tense. Maybe his declaration of love didn’t go so well. Or maybe he was just worried about me.
“Why, that’s a very good idea, Scorpius,” Cassie said sarcastically. “I will ask her. Just as soon as she’s finished puking up her guts and can talk again.”
This seemed to remind Scorpius that I was currently being sick, and he went back to rubbing my back.
When I’d finished emptying my stomach, I shakily got up up to my feet. Scor put an arm around my shoulders.
“Are you alright?” He said seriously, nudging my shoulder. “Potter thought your drink was spiked?”
“I don’t know. Maybe, yes. I was suddenly just a mess.”
“It was probably that weirdo who bought me the green drink,” Cass said, tiptoeing along the curb of the pavement in front of us, holding her arms out on either side like a tightrope walker. “Trying to get lucky with me.”
“It’s not funny, Cassie,” Scorpius sighed. “It’s serious.”
“I’m okay,” I told him. “It’s all fine now.”
“And with Sebastian?” Scor asked. “You’re sure you’re okay?”
“Absolutely,” I said. “He was just...persistent.”
“You should have gone for it,” Cassie said. “Sebastian’s hot.”
“He also wanted significantly more than I did.”
“But he was fun and attractive and interested.”
“Leave it, Cass,” Scor snapped.
Cassie didn’t say anything. I wasn’t sure if she was annoyed with us or whether she’d just decided she was bored of the conversation.
“Love you, Cass,” I called, my voice hoarse from throwing up.
She smiled and reached back to hold my hand.
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