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Chapter 5 : In Which Cassie Misses The Train
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“And you must write to me this term, darling. Let me know everything that’s going on between you and Scorpius, and you know you only have to ask if you’d like me to send you a new dress or something to make you pretty…oh, Olivia, I miss you desperately when you’re gone, you know that, darling, don’t you?”
I murmured some kind of vague response. I find it difficult to listen to my mother’s goodbyes. They drag on for a very long time.
“You’ll be coming home for Easter, won’t you? Of course you will. You mustn’t leave me alone. You know what your Father’s like. He didn’t even come to see you off today. I expect he’s with her.”
Excellent. It’s always good to be sent off to school with a quick discussion about Dad’s rapid decline into a despicable human being.
“I mean, I don’t want to go on about it, darling. You know I’d hate to burden you with my problems. Scorpius is waving you over, Olivia. Here, give me a kiss.”
I stayed still to let Mum kiss my forehead. She held a hand to my cheek for a moment, looking down at me (she wears very high shoes) with forlorn eyes. Her pale pink lipstick had smudged a little onto her teeth. I didn’t point it out.
The whistle blew, signalling five minutes until the train departed, and Mum jumped and let go of my face.
“You’ve messed up your hair, darling,” she said, taking a comb out of her pocket and attacking me with it for a minute. “There you are. Now you look beautiful. Have a lovely year. Don’t forget to write.”
“Bye, Mum. I’ll see you at Easter.” I thought about giving her a hug but wasn’t sure she’d ever let me go so settled for a strange, jerking nod towards her before dragging my trunk towards the train, struggling not to drop my owl cage.
Scor saw me struggling with my trunk and shouted out to me to wait. I watched him kiss his mum goodbye and shrug at something his Dad said before jogging to catch up with me. He wasn’t carrying a trunk. Mr Malfoy always makes sure they arrive at Kings Cross early enough to load Scor’s trunk into a carriage before saying goodbye.
“Long time no see,” Scor said when he reached me, nudging me with his arm. “Here, I’ll take the trunk.”
He lifted up my trunk with relatively little effort and I rearranged my owl cage in my arms so it was less precariously balanced. Mercury, my owl, looked at me suspiciously. I stuck my tongue out at her. I get unreasonable levels of satisfaction from being rude to her. She ruffled her feathers and looked unamused.
“I got the back carriage,” Scor was saying, pushing past smaller students to get down the corridor on the Hogwarts Express.
“Is Cassie there?”
“Cassie’s never here earlier than two minutes to eleven,” Scor said. “She has a prefect meeting for the beginning of the journey so won’t see us until later anyway. We always sit at the back, though. She’ll know where to find us.”
“I’m getting withdrawal symptoms.”
“Yep. I’ve had nobody to bitch with since New Year’s.”
Scor raised an eyebrow. “Some people might say that bitching isn’t a necessity.”
“Those people haven’t met my mother.”
“This is a valid point.” Scor slid open the door to a compartment. I could see his trunk already up on the luggage rack, S.H.Malfoy embossed on the side in glittering silver. He lifted my trunk on top of his and then flopped onto a chair, putting his legs up on the seat opposite.
I sat down on the other side of the compartment and put my feet up next to Scor as the train started to move. I get closer and closer to being late every year. I blame my mother and her excessively time consuming goodbyes.
Scor reached up to take a newspaper down off the luggage rack.
I sighed. “I hate that Cass is a prefect. The train’s no fun just with you.”
“Aw, thanks, Ollie.”
“It’s true. You’re just going to sit and read the paper and be all grown up and dull. I miss gossiping and eating chocolate all journey.”
He opened the paper and started to read. I spent a long time drawing swirls in the condensation on the window. When everywhere on the window in reach was full I looked back up.
“Don’t you miss spending the whole journey with Cass?”
“Will you buy me a hippogriff?”
“I was thinking you could pay for me to go on holiday with Cassie this year?”
“Are you listening at all?”
“I slept with Potter.”
“Hello. Nice to know you’re capable of communication.”
“You slept with Potter? Smaller Potter?”
“Yeah, it was great. Veeery satisfying.”
“Are you serious? You slept with Albus Potter? For Merlin’s sake, Ollie.”
“Calm down, Scor. Of course I didn’t.”
“But you just said…”
“You were ignoring me. I needed to get your attention.”
“You love me.”
“Keep telling yourself that.”
“Aw, don’t be cross. You were being rude and not listening to me.”
“Right. He’s in the Prophet again,” Scor said, waving the newspaper.
“Smaller Potter. More stuff about him and Brogan. I don’t know why it’s supposed to be interesting.”
Scor passed me the paper, pointing to a large photo of Albus Potter trying to shield his face from the camera.
“I guess they like having something to write about him. It’s normally Big Potter that causes the gossip, isn’t it?”
“Yeah. They’re really giving him a hard time of it. Damn, never thought I’d feel sorry for a Potter,” Scor said with a frown.
The carriage door slid open and Esther came in, followed by Clara Zabini. Esther mouthed an apology to Scorpius, who shuffled closer to the window and further from Clara.
“Is it okay if we sit here?” Clara gave a simpering smile. “Everywhere else was full.”
“It wasn’t full, Clara,” Esther said. “You just didn’t want to sit with any of the people in the carriages with space.”
“Well, yeah. It was a choice between you two, Laura Brogan and her gaggle of hags, or Amethyst Twine,” Clara said, lifting my feet of the chair and sitting down next to Scorpius. He shuffled away from her slightly. “We sat with Twine for ages but you know what she’s like. I didn’t want to do a whole journey in silence.”
“We left our trunks in with her in case there wasn’t space anywhere else, but it was beyond awkward sitting with her. I swear she’s worse than she used to be. The dorm’s going to be weird this term,” Esther said.
Scor was scowling. I looked at him and mouthed “Be nice”. He smirked.
“How was your Christmas, Scorpy?” Clara moved a little closer to him.
Esther caught my eye and grinned, taking a seat next to me.
“It was decent. Cass stayed with me most of the time,” Scor said, not looking at Clara.
“Do your parents not mind?” Esther spoke up when Clara looked unsure what to say.
“Nah, they know there’s no point trying to stop us seeing each other and they’d rather know where we are. Dad loves Cass. She makes him laugh. I think Mum’s a bit less sure; she always thought I’d end up marrying Ollie, but she can see that Cassie makes me happy,” Scor said, talking enthusiastically. Cassie’s his favourite topic of conversation.
“Where is she? We assumed she’d be sitting with you,” Esther said.
“Prefect meeting,” Scor grunted, looking back at his newspaper.
“They finished ages ago. We ran into my brother on our way over here and he said they were done,” Esther said.
“She probably ran into someone on her way back,” Scor said, looking unconcerned. “Did Joe get that new broom he wanted for Christmas? I forgot to ask yesterday.”
“Oh, yeah he did. The Wanderer. He loves it.”
“That’s good. He’s too tall now for the Comets I think. They’re made for a stockier build. His balance was off last term and that’s not what we need for the Ravenclaw match.”
“Yeah, he said it’s a lot better on the Wanderer, and he can accelerate quicker as well,” Esther said. “Oz has been round a lot to work on high speed passes. They reckon they’ll be able to get the Quaffle halfway down the pitch in a few seconds and then Olivia can wait nearer the goals without being marked.”
“That’s brilliant. We’ll definitely work on it. Oscar’s good at throwing over long distances and if the Ravenclaw Chasers aren’t focussing on Ollie at the beginning of the run she’ll be able to shoot. Of course, we won’t be able to use the same play many times in a game without them catching on but it’s a good one to keep in mind.”
After ten minutes of talking about Quidditch tactics we were joined in the carriage by Joe and Oz, who enthusiastically joined in with the conversation.
Clara sighed, flicked her hair back and opened a copy of Witch Weekly, leaning on Scor’s shoulder to read. She didn't really understand Quidditch and couldn’t see why it mattered to the rest of us. Scor frowned at her but chose not to cause conflict by making her move. I noticed Esther smile at him gratefully.
“I want to practice the Porskoff Ploy this term, Scor,” I said when Joe had finished running through his list of reasons why the Wanderer was a stronger broom than the old Firebolts. “Even Hufflepuff can do it better than we can. It’s embarrassing.”
“True dat,” Oz said with a solemn nod.
“Never say that again,” Joe advised. “I agree, though. We can be sure the Claws will have some new tricks. We can’t play the same way we played against Hufflepuff.”
Scor opened his mouth to speak but was interrupted by the door opening again.
“What are you doing here?” He rearranged his features into a cold sneer. When he does that it reminds me how happy I am to be on his good side. He doesn’t make a good enemy.
James Potter didn’t look phased by Scor’s hostility. He glanced around the compartment and when he spoke it was to me rather than Scor.
“Bell. Do you know where Cassie is?”
“We’ve not seen her all day. Why?” I looked at him curiously.
“She didn’t turn up to the prefect meeting.”
“Why do you care?” Scor was scowling again.
“I’m head boy, Malfoy. I need to make sure all the prefects are doing their jobs properly. Cassie can’t do that if she doesn’t turn up to the meetings.” He looked frustrated and ran a hand through his hair, messing it up so he looked like he’d just been flying. “Look, if you see her later can you tell her to come and find me?”
“Will do,” I said.
“Not making any promises she’ll bother, though,” Scor said. “Don’t see why she’d go out of her way to talk to you.”
“We’ll let Cassie decide whether it’s worth it, shall we?” James’s voice was cool. He turned back to me. “Bell. Jason said to give you this from his Mum.”
He passed me a cardboard box and then left the compartment without closing the door behind him.
“It’s lucky he’s pretty,” Clara said, standing up to close the door. “Otherwise he’d be completely intolerable.”
“What’s in the box, Ollie?” Scor leaned forward.
I took the lid off the box and found three silver photo frames. One contained a horrible picture of the whole family eating Christmas dinner. I wasn’t looking at the camera, instead trying to steal Jason’s mince pie. Jason was looking moronic. Mum had tears in her eyes. Dad was red faced. Oliver was shaking with anger and Katie was beaming but holding tightly onto Oliver’s hand. She must have set up a camera to get a full family photo.
I put the picture back in the box and looked at the other two. I hadn’t noticed either of them being taken. One showed me squeezed onto an armchair with Jason, tucking my hair behind my ear while he offered me a Quaffle. The Christmas tree twinkled in the background and we were surrounded by ripped wrapping paper. The other showed Aunt Katie pulling me into a hug next to the fireplace. Looking at these two pictures you wouldn’t realise how dysfunctional the family really is.
“Family photographs. That’s not very you, Ollie,” Joe said with a smile.
“I expect the whole box will stay under my bed all year. “I don’t particularly want a reminder of this year’s Christmas fiasco.” I turned to look at Scor. “That’s strange that Cass wasn’t at the prefect meeting.”
Scor frowned. “Yeah. She must have missed the train. I guess she’ll need to get the knight bus or something.”
“She won’t like that at all.”
“No. Maybe it’ll encourage her to start being on time,” Scor said with a sigh.
“I seriously doubt it,” I said.
Joe laughed and then changed the conversation back to Quidditch, a topic that lasted us the majority of the remaining journey.
Cassie wasn’t at Hogwarts when we arrived and didn’t turn up during the feast. I sat between Scor and Joe, slapping Joe when he repeatedly pulled my hair and stole bits of my dinner because he couldn’t be bothered to reach across the table.
It felt strange to go back to the Common Room after the feast without Cass. I sat with Scor on a plushy green sofa near the fire, chatting about nothing in particular, neither of us acknowledging that our main reason for staying up was that we were waiting for Cassie.
“We should go for a run tomorrow morning,” Scor said, looking at the fireplace rather than at me.
“Haha. No.” I leaned back on the sofa and stretched my legs out across his lap. He glared at my toes.
“Come on, Ollie. I need you in good shape.”
“You saying I’m not in good shape already?” I jabbed his thigh with my toes and smirked when he winced.
“We’ll be able to play better if we’re in better fitness.”
“But running is evil.”
“Ollie…” Scor raised an eyebrow.
“It’s so horrid. Don’t make me do it.”
“I can’t make you. I just…I really want to win. This is my first real chance to prove I’m good, to show that I can do this, that I’m not…”
He didn’t finish his sentence and I didn’t ask him to. I know Scor wants to show people he’s a different person to his Father. He arrived at Hogwarts to find that everyone had preconceived notions of who he was, and has spent the last six years trying to carve a reputation based on his own achievements. The Quidditch Cup is a chance to do this.
“Fine. We can go for a run.” I said, sticking my tongue out at him.
“Good girl.” Scor smirked.
“You did that on purpose!”
“Guilt tripped me into saying I’ll go running.”
“I did nothing of the sort,” Scor said, not trying to hide the laughter all over his face.
“You’re so mean. You should be ashamed of yourself.”
“Scorrr, I don’t want to go running.”
“It’ll be good for you. I’ll give you a chocolate frog afterwards.”
“I like those.” I grinned.
“I know you do. Look, I’m going to go to bed. When Cass gets here tell her she can come wake me up if she wants.”
“Ew.” I stood up at the same time as Scor.
“Be nice,” Scor said, reaching out to ruffle my hair quickly. “Meet here at seven to run.”
I glared at his back as he headed up the stairs to his dormitory, and then opened the door to my own. Clara and Esther were unpacking and giggling. The curtains around Amethyst’s bed were closed. My owl, Mercury, was perched in her cage on my bedside table and my trunk had been left at the end of my bed. I opened it, vaguely thinking about getting ready for bed.
Clara looked up from unpacking her trunk, holding a red sparkly top on a wooden hanger. “Oh. It’s just you. We thought Cassie might have arrived.”
“She’s not here yet,” I said, frowning at her and then waving my wand at my trunk. “Accio pyjamas.”
My pyjamas flew out of the trunk and landed over my head. I spat the stripy cloth out of my mouth and started to get changed.
“Do you know where she is?” Esther asked once I’d pulled the pyjama shirt on.
“Well, aren’t you worried?”
“She’s always late for everything,” I said with a shrug.
“But she’s not been late for school before,” Esther said.
“There’s a first time for everything.”
“You think she’s okay, though?”
“Yeah,” I said, nodding. “Yeah. She’ll be here tomorrow.”
“Okay. So, I saw you were sitting with Scorpius downstairs,” Clara said, closing the lid of her trunk and sitting on the edge of her bed. “What were you talking about?”
“Did he mention me?” Clara looked hopeful.
“No. We were waiting for Cass,” I said, ignoring the way Clara’s face crumpled in disappointment. She knows how Scor and Cassie are. I don’t know why she still thinks he might be interested. “I should get some sleep. We have class tomorrow and I want to go for a run.”
I bounced onto my bed, closing the curtains around me and climbing under my covers. I closed my eyes and let myself sink into the pillow, pulling the green sheets up around my shoulders and rolling over to cocoon myself in duvet.
It felt strange to be at Hogwarts without Cass. I’d never slept in the Slytherin Dormitory without her before, and I missed her. Usually she’d be sat at the end of my bed, making plans for the new term and rolling her eyes at Clara’s comments. I missed her.
When the dormitory was finally quiet I sat up. I couldn’t sleep and Esther’s concern had shaken my confidence that Cassie would turn up the next day.
I reached for a quill and my sketchbook, tearing out a piece of paper and chewing my lip while I thought about what to write.
Missed you on the train today. We had to sit with Zabini and Montague. You would have hated it.
Where are you? I’ve not heard from you for nearly a week now. Are you okay?
It’s strange in the dorm without you. I can’t sleep here without your snoring.
I guess I’ll see you tomorrow? Or are you still on holiday or something? Let me know okay? I need you here. Scor’s making me go for a run tomorrow. I need you to remind him that exercise is a waste of time and all that jazz.
Part of me felt silly sending the letter. Cassie would be fine. She was always fine. I didn’t need to check up on her, but I still found it much easier to sleep after watching Mercury fly away with the folded over piece of parchment.
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