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Chapter 11 : In Which Slytherins Speculate
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I wasn’t sure what to do with myself. I watched Teddy Lupin gently lead Scor away from the pitch, tilting his head to talk to his cousin. Scor’s robes were muddy, and one of his hands was still clutching the snitch he’d caught. His shoulders were hunched and beneath his face paint he looked utterly dejected.
The euphoria I’d felt when I landed after the match had completely faded. I crossed my arms tightly across my chest and took a few deep breaths, blinking slowly like an idiot. I think people were trying to talk to me, but I couldn’t focus on what they were saying.
Scor had been taken away for questioning about Cassie’s disappearance.
They were acting like he was a suspect.
Scor had been taken away by MLE officers and aurors.
He’s terrified of law enforcement.
I took a shaky breath and dug my fingernails into my forearm, trying to calm down. I didn’t know what to make of what had just happened.
“Come on, Ollster. Let’s get you inside.” Joe’s voice. Next to my ear. I squirmed away from him.
“No point worrying about it right now,” Oz said, draping a muscular arm around me. “Come on.”
It was strange to see them together without smiling.
Joe put one arm around me from the other side, and I let my fellow Chasers lead me back towards the Castle.
We usually went back to the changing rooms after a Match, wanting to get changed and have a quick team debrief, but Oz and Joe seemed to have decided that it would be better to go straight back to the Common Room. I didn’t question it. It would have felt horrible to go back to the changing rooms without Scor.
Esther and Clara hurried out of the stands to meet us as we left the Pitch. Clara had thick green and silver eye make up on, and both of them were wearing Slytherin scarves.
“What happened? Why did they take Scorpius away?” Clara looked anxious, pulling strands of her hair with her fingers. She had green nail varnish on too, decorated with tiny silver snakes. It was quite beautiful. “Is he going to be okay? What’s going on? Did they explain?”
She sounded like she really was concerned. Maybe her obsession with Scor is about more than just his looks after all. Or maybe she was just worried she wouldn’t get to drool over him for a few hours.
“Erm, we’re not sure. They took him for questioning,” Joe said with a frown, tightening his grip around my waist.
“About Cassie?” Esther spoke to her brother rather than to me. Her voice was soft but clear.
“Yeah. They said something about new evidence,” Joe said. “Scorp looked pretty scared.”
It was unsettling to hear Joe Montague talking so seriously about something. A big part of me wanted him to crack a joke and give Oz a kiss, but I knew he was worried and wouldn’t be able to act like he usually did.
“So he’s a suspect? But everyone knows Scorpius wouldn’t hurt Cassie,” Clara said.
“Wouldn’t he?” Esther looked unsure. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love Scorp, but…if the aurors are treating him like a suspect then they must have reason to suspect him.”
“And Cassie’s good at rubbing people up the wrong way,” Joe said, frowning.
“That she is. Plus Scorp’s definitely got a nasty side,” Oz said. He looked anxiously down at me after speaking, and his voice was apologetic.
“It’s not impossible that he’s got something to do with her not being here,” Esther said thoughtfully.
“Stop it.” I pulled away from Joe and Oz. “Of course Scor didn’t do anything. They just want him to answer some questions. Just…just leave it. He’ll be back soon.”
None of my fellow Slytherins tried to stop me as I strode away from them, back towards the pitch. I didn’t want to listen to their speculations on where Cassie was and whether Scor had anything to do with it. None of them knew Cass and Scor like I did. They had no right to be talking about it like they had any idea what was going on.
I dragged myself halfway up the Quidditch stands.
The wind had picked up since the match and was driving tears out of my eyes. It was kind of a relief. If my tears were because of the wind I didn’t need to worry about whether I’d be crying without it.
I sat down on one of the plastic chairs and drew my knees up to my chest.
It was strange, waiting by myself, knowing that Scor was somewhere being questioned. I remembered how pale he was after the last time he’d spoken to MLE officers about Cass. It definitely wasn’t going to be good now that they were treating him more like a suspect.
I didn’t really know what to make of it. In my head, Cassie was still sitting on a beach somewhere tropical and working on her tan. But people sitting on beaches working on their tans don’t have MLE officers searching for them. They don’t have their boyfriends being taken away for questioning about their disappearance.
I rested my cheek against my knee, ignoring the fact that my face paint was smudging onto my leg.
The weather hadn’t felt so bad when I was flying, but now that I was sitting still on the ground I realised just how cold it was. I blew on my hands and then wrapped my fingers up in my sleeves to try to keep them warm.
I’m not sure how long I sat there.
It was cold and miserable and I suppose I didn’t really want to be by myself, but I knew I didn’t want to spend time with anyone else either. I also knew that when Scor came back he’d come straight here. All his things were still in the changing rooms. And he’d want to see me. I wanted to see him.
I squeezed my eyes shut and pulled my robes more tightly around myself to keep warm.
“Ollie?” Scor stood at the bottom of the Quidditch stands, still white faced and shaking.
I stood up and pretty much flew down the steps to meet him. I almost threw my arms around him, but suddenly wasn’t sure that I wanted to, and took a step back to look at him.
“What happened?” My teeth were chattering, making it hard to speak.
“They were asking me things, like, a lot,” Scor said. He looked almost like he was in pain.
“They said there was new evidence? Do you know what it is? Is Cass okay?”
“I don’t know, Ollie. It doesn’t sound good.” Scor took a shaky breath. “They found her locket.”
Scor gave Cassie a locket for Christmas last year. It’s silver and chunky, and has a picture of the three of us inside, glaring at the camera and then dissolving into laughter. It’s the only jewellery Cass ever let Scor buy for her, and I’d never seen her take it off.
“In a muggle underground station,” Scor said bitterly.
“Cass doesn’t get the tube.”
“No,” he said with a grimace.
I looked at him for a moment. I thought he might have been crying. His eyes looked swollen.
It was starting to rain. I let the ice cold drops fall on my cheeks, mingling with the tears the wind had pulled from my eyes and swirling down my cheeks.
“It doesn’t mean anything, Scor. Maybe…maybe it got stolen, or something.” I frowned at him, aware that my words weren’t really a comfort.
“Why would someone steal it and then leave it at King’s Cross?” Scor gave a horrible half smile.
“I just meant…there’s no reason to think the locket turning up means anything bad,” I said. My voice sounded unsteady and it wasn’t just because of the shivering.
“It was broken,” Scor said. His voice was flat and he didn’t make eye contact.
“But that still doesn’t mean…”
“The chain was broken, and it had strands of her hair caught up in it. The aurors say it looks like it was pulled off her and then thrown away.” Scor closed his eyes for a second when he finished speaking.
“Maybe…maybe she pulled it off herself?”
“Why would she do that?” Scor glared.
“I don’t know. If she was upset, or didn’t want to wear it, or…I don’t know.”
“You think she was upset with me and decided to throw it away,” Scor said.
I reached out for his arm but he took a step backwards. The rain was getting stronger and my robes were getting heavier as the water seeped through them.
“I didn’t say that, Scor,” I said quietly. “I was just saying there might be an explanation.”
He shuffled from side to side and sighed shakily before opening his mouth again. When he spoke his voice was heavy and expressionless.
“They found her blood on the chain.”
“They…what?” It felt like something had lodged in my throat. Something that was sharp and rapidly expanding.
“There was blood on the chain. And they…they think it was me. They think I did something to her. They kept going on about statistics, and how often it’s the boyfriend, and how the fact it was a gift from me makes it more suspicious.” His words were tumbling over each other, almost too quickly for me to process. “Ollie, they think I hurt her! They think I hurt Cass! And they say they don’t have any evidence against me but they’ll be watching me carefully and…and I don’t know what to do. What the fuck do I do?”
He looked up at me for a moment. I couldn’t figure out his expression. He was terrified and devastated and furious all at the same time and I wasn’t sure what to make of it.
He was terrified and devastated and furious and he was the number one suspect in my best friend’s disappearance.
My best friend’s disappearance.
He was being watched carefully.
I stared at him.
He blinked once at me, and stared at the ground.
I watched him as he pressed his fingertips carefully against his cheek as if to make sure it was still there.
And then I watched him draw his hand away quickly and clench his fist around the fabric of his robes.
And then I watched him look back up at me, shaking his head desperately as if I could say something to make it all better.
And then I ran away.
I could hear him shouting for me to come back but I didn’t look round. I wasn’t sure where I was going, but I didn’t want to stop. I ran into the castle, past the tide of students making their way into the Great Hall for dinner, and up the staircase towards the first floor.
I didn’t stop until I crashed straight into somebody.
“Liv,” Al said, grabbing my arms to hold me steady. “I’ve been looking for you. Are you…what’s happened?”
I shook my head quickly. I was still shivering and my robes were soaked through from the rain. I tried to move away from him, but Al held tightly onto my arms, watching me carefully.
“Godric, you look freezing. Do you want my cloak?”
I didn’t say anything, but I let him carefully slide my sodden Quidditch robes off my shoulders. It didn’t make much difference. The leggings and top I wore underneath were also drenched from the rain.
Al pulled off his own dry cloak and carefully wrapped it around me. It was toasty and soft, and must have had several warming charms on the fabric.
He looked concerned, more concerned than he’d been when he had to carry me to the Hospital Wing, and I think the shock of his kindness was what finally made me lose control.
I let the hot tears dribble down my cheeks and breathed in rough, desperate breaths between sobs that racked my whole body. A small part of me registered that I didn’t really want Albus Potter to be the one to see me fall apart like this, but once I’d started crying I couldn’t stop.
I expected Al to leave. It wasn’t his responsibility to deal with me having a full on breakdown in the middle of the school, and I can’t have been very good company. I fully expected him to awkwardly make his excuses and then go to dinner. Or Gryffindor tower. Or anywhere else.
But he didn’t. He stepped closer and put both arms around me, coccooning me in his arms and cloak.
For somebody that generally hates physical contact, I seem to spend a ridiculous quantity of time in Al Potter’s arms.
I buried my face against his neck, letting my tears fall onto the collar of his shirt even though they’d mixed horribly with my face paint and were sending trickles of green over the white fabric. He tightened his grip around me and kissed the top of my head, stroking my wet hair with one hand.
“I’m here. It’s okay. Whatever’s happened, it’s going to be okay. I’m here. You’re okay.”
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