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Impact by R o s m e r t a
Chapter 23 : Interrogation
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 17


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Author’s Note: Oh heyyy guys, remember me? And more importantly, forgive me?? This was supposed to be a mini-hiatus given that I was moving 3,000 miles away a few weeks after posting chapter 22, but my laptop with all my later chapters decided to die on me and nothing I wrote after that seemed as good as what I had before and basically everything just devolved into a total quarter(ish)-life crisis. But Cecily and Al and the rest of the gang have never left my brain, so I knew I needed to get back to it at some point and here we are! Anyway, this chapter isn’t my best work, but I wanted to jump back in and I think it gets things moving in the right direction…plus, it’s a lot longer than most of my chapters!



{lyrics: Fall Out Boy // Save Rock and Roll}


*     *     *     *     *

I had met Mr. Potter several times in the past, obviously, but had never found myself alone with him. Naturally, I couldn’t stop watching him; the resemblance to his younger son was uncanny.

“I do apologise for all this,” Mr. Potter said as we made our way back toward the lifts, politely ignoring my creepy, avid stare. “I’m sure the last thing you want to do right now is sit and be asked prying questions by Ministry officials.” He flashed me a wry smile. “I understand completely how you feel.”

No, you don’t! was the automatic, rebellious-teenager response that flew into my head, followed immediately by all those History of Magic lessons that tended to make a case for the fact that yes, if anyone on the entire planet knew what I was feeling right now, it would probably be the man at my side. I swallowed my uncharacteristically angsty retort and shrugged. “You’re just doing your job, sir.”

“Yes, well, that doesn’t mean these proceedings can’t be imbued with a little sympathy.” Mr. Potter glanced at me sideways with those emerald eyes so like his son’s. “Unfortunately, time is of the essence if we ever hope to discover who really attacked Malfoy Manor yesterday evening.”

It took a few seconds for me to absorb his words.  “You mean…you believe Scorpius?”

“Of course I do,” he assured me. “I know your cousin.  He has been dating my favourite niece for years, after all.” Mr. Potter grimaced and shot me a sheepish look. “Just…don’t tell the others I said that last bit, all right?” I gave him a half-smile and my word. He sighed. “Be that as it may, I’m going to be honest with you, Cecily: your cousin is facing a long and difficult trial. For starters, the Killing Curse was used on your aunt and cast with Scorpius’s wand.”

I gasped. “What?

“Oh yes,” Mr. Potter replied gravely. “What’s more, there’s no sign that anyone else ever entered the house.”

“So he’s basically completely fucked then?” I blurted out before immediately slapping a hand over my mouth, embarrassed. Mr. Potter looked at me with some amusement. “Sweet Salazar, I’m so sorry, sir.”

“It’s quite all right, Cecily.” We reached the second level and he led me out of the lifts down a cool, tiled corridor. “As I said, I know your cousin, and I know he is not even remotely capable of such an act, even if he wanted to be. The curse requires too much hatred, too much power.” He sighed heavily again. “The trouble is not everyone involved in this case has the benefit of my personal knowledge.  Others will only look at the events that transpired, your family’s…unsavoury past, and the fact that Scorpius nearly fatally wounded another student less than 24 hours prior.  To them, it will seem open and shut; they will be more than happy to ship him off to Azkaban at the earliest possible opportunity.” Mr. Potter ran his hand through his inky hair, a gesture so profoundly familiar that it shook me momentarily. “But I promise you, Cecily, I will do everything I can to make sure the real perpetrator is brought to justice and no harm comes to Scorpius.”

All his words were swarming in my head as we turned a corner into an open, carpeted space and I glimpsed a sign indicating that we were entering the Auror Office. “Why are you telling me all this?” I asked, dimly registering the fact that I was questioning not just any authority figure, but Harry freaking Potter, of all people. “I mean, you’re treating me like…like an adult.”

Harry freaking Potter smiled at me a bit ruefully. “Fifteen is old enough. With all you’ve been through, I feel like you deserve the truth. I’m sure you would learn it on your own, eventually, but I also know full well that secrets have the power to destroy. This is your life, Cecily; your family. You have every right to know exactly what’s going on. Through all of this, I will always try to be honest with you, whether you’d like to hear it or not.”

I didn’t know what to say; I could think of no words to properly express my gratitude. So I remained silent as we reached a large, rather imposing door marked ‘INTERROGATION’ and Mr. Potter stopped in front of it, turning toward me.

“For what it’s worth, I am terribly sorry for what you’re going through, Cecily. I confess I never really knew your aunt, and I’m sure you know your uncle and I have your differences, but he’s always tried to do right by his family. For better or for worse. I can’t help but respect him for that.”

“He’s all I have,” I found myself blurting to the most prestigious man in the wizarding world, like we were bosom buddies and I was in the habit of discussing my feelings on the reg. “And Scorp, of course.”

I managed to refrain from cringing as Mr. Potter placed his hand on my shoulder comfortingly. “That is utter nonsense, Cecily. You mean a great deal to many, particularly to my niece and nephew and even my son, though I get the impression that’s the last thing he’d ever have you believe.” Mr. Potter smiled gently as my heart skittered across my chest. “Your friends may not be related to you by blood, but that doesn’t make them any less your family. Keep them close.”

I couldn’t help but give him the best smile I could muster, which I imagined must have seemed more like a grimace. “You really are as great as everyone says.”

Mr. Potter gave a little laugh. “I don’t know about that. I just recognise the importance of knowing you are never alone.”

“Thank you, Mr. Potter.”

He inclined his head toward me and then sighed for the 378th time. “Now, I’m afraid this is going to be rather…unpleasant. I cannot conduct your interview alone because of my personal involvement with the subject of this case. As it happens, I’m supervising the training of a former Hit Squad member as an Auror. He can be rather…abrasive.”

Oh, fantastic.

“But don’t worry; I’ll be on the other side of this wall watching everything, so just signal if you need me for anything at all.”

I took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. “Okay. Thanks again, Mr. Potter. For everything.”

“Of course, Cecily.” He smiled encouragingly. “Good luck.”

I eased open the door and stepped inside the startlingly cold, stark white room. It was completely bare except for a long table with two chairs at the opposite end. One was empty; the other was filled by a menacingly large man with a head of wiry, blonde hair. My heart was thudding in my chest so loudly I was certain he could hear it from twelve feet away.

“Miss Greengrass, I presume,” the man said in a gruff voice. I nodded stupidly. He gestured to the unoccupied chair. “Take a seat.” Once I had obliged, he introduced himself as Cormac McLaggen before jumping into the questioning without preamble, quickly establishing my full name, birthdate, and the fact that I lived at Malfoy Manor when not attending Hogwarts.

“How long have you resided at Malfoy Manor, Miss Greengrass?” he looked up from the parchment upon which he was jotting notes and fixed me with a penetrating glare. I briefly registered that his eyes were green, but the shade of moss; nowhere near as appealing as the emerald glare to which I had become so accustomed.

“Going on eight years now.” I responded, using all my willpower to keep my hands and feet still. Something told me jitteriness around this man would not be taken well.

“And what is your relation to the Malfoys?”

“Astoria Malfoy is—was—my mother’s younger sister.”

“So your mother is…”

“Was,” I interjected, “Daphne Greengrass.”

“Ah, yes,” he replied, folding his hands in front of him. “She passed away several years ago, didn’t she? How did that happen?”

I attempted to swallow the lump in my throat. “I don’t know.”

“You don’t know how your own mother died?” McLaggen asked disbelievingly.

“No, sir.”

“How is that possible?”

Merlin, I hated this guy. “She was an Unspeakable. There was some sort of accident while she was on assignment. That’s all I was ever told.”

“Hmm. Interesting.” He jotted down a few more notes on his parchment. “What about your father?”

“What about him?” I practically spat. I couldn’t believe I was speaking to an authority figure this way, but something inside me seemed to be changing, shifting my entire reality. Somehow, I thought Cormac McLaggen would bring this side out of me either way.

He glared at me. “Who is he? Where is he?”

I shrugged. “Dunno. Sir,” I added as an afterthought when he continued to shoot daggers.

“Come now, Miss Greengrass. This will all be much easier if you’ll just cooperate.”

“I don’t know, okay?” It was all I could do to keep from shouting. “I don’t know anything about him.”

McLaggen studied me for a moment, the barest hint of a grin evident on his stupid face. It suddenly occurred to me that he must have known all of this information before I even entered the room. Was he just trying to upset me? Obviously, any overly emotional response on my part could be used against me if I didn’t say exactly what he wanted to hear.

I refused to give him the satisfaction.

“Interesting,” McLaggen said again. “Let’s discuss your cousin, Scorpius.” He shuffled some papers and shifted his gaze to me once more. “Would you say the two of you are close?”

“Yes,” I managed. Good, just stick to the short answers.

“How is Scorpius’s relationship with his parents?”

“Fine.”

“Care to elaborate?”

No. I sighed. “He’s always gotten on with his mum a bit more than his dad, I suppose.”

“Really?” McLaggen snarled doubtfully. “Then why did he kill his mother?”

“He didn’t.” I could feel the heat rising to my cheeks. Cool it, Cecily.

“Ah, yes, of course not.” McLaggen’s face was starting to turn a bit red, which only made him more frightening. “But he did attack another student shortly before his mother was killed, correct?” I hesitated. “Answer the question please, Miss Greengrass.”

“Yes, but—”

“And you were there to witness this attack?”

“Yes, but—”

“And it fell on you to save the victim’s life?”

“Yes, but—”

“How long has your cousin displayed these violent outbursts?”

“He never—”

“Who taught him curses and Dark magic?  Was it his father?”

“What are you—”

“MCLAGGEN!” My interviewer and I turned as one to see Mr. Potter storming into the room. “That is quite enough.”

“I was only—” McLaggen started to protest.

“I said, enough,” Mr. Potter interrupted, clearly furious. He whirled to face me. “Cecily, did Scorpius have a good relationship with his mother?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Can you think of any possible motive he would have to attack her?”

“No, sir.”

“And do you have any firsthand knowledge about the circumstances of your aunt’s death?”

“No, sir.”

“You’re free to go.”

I scrambled out of my chair and toward the door as McLaggen stood up and slammed his fists on the table in front of him. “This is unacceptable, Potter!” he roared. “I can’t work like this!”

“You won’t be working here at all if you continue to interview witnesses in this manner, McLaggen!”

The sound of their shouting was cut off instantly as the door slammed shut behind me.

*     *     *     *     *

I thought it wrong to say goodbye to my aunt at a time when neither her husband nor her son were there to witness it, but Uncle Draco’s formidable mother insisted on “putting an end to the whole nasty business.” I knew Mrs. Malfoy had always disapproved of Aunt Tori because she believed her a bad influence on Uncle Draco—my own grandparents had brought up their daughters proud, but never to believe that Muggles and half-bloods should die in the name of pureblood supremacy. That was the reason they’d lost their own lives during the second wizarding war. Mrs. Malfoy’s particular disdain for me, I’d gathered, had as much to do with my mother’s identity as it did with the fact that no one knew exactly what I was.

Aunt Tori and I had never been all that close, but I knew she loved me in her own way, as she had loved her sister despite their differences. The woman had cared for me—grudgingly or not—since I was a child. She was such a prominent part of the little family I had; she was all that was left of my mother. And now she was simply gone. It reminded me, for the fleeting moment I allowed my thoughts to creep in, how inherently cruel the world was.

The funeral was a whirlwind. I vaguely recalled Aunt Tori laid peaceably among white silk cushions, blonde hair splayed artfully and midnight blue eyes closed forever. Dozens of witches and wizards I’d never seen in my life appeared to extend their condolences, which I numbly accepted. Rose and Louis and Potter and Theo were there, too, and even Lucy and Ally, but I hardly remembered speaking to any of them. 

After, I was allowed to visit Scorpius once more. We sat in silence, squeezing our hands tightly between the bars. I couldn’t stop shaking as my cousin wept uncontrollably. I couldn’t take all this any longer; I needed some semblance of normal.

“Scorp?” I ventured when the sniffling finally began to subside.

“Yeah?”

“I’m sorry about Silas. I feel like I should have said something, but I’m not sure what.”

Scorpius was quiet for a moment. “Do you like him?”

“I don’t know,” I answered truthfully. “But I really don’t think he’s as bad of a guy as he pretends to be.”

Another pause. “I’m sorry, too. I shouldn’t have said those things in Hogsmeade.”

I shrugged. “Maybe I do need to be needed.” I squeezed his hand again, hard. “But I also really just need you.” He squeezed my hand back as his eyes filled with tears again. “We’re going to get you out of here,” I whispered.

“Okay,” he replied. He didn’t ask how and I didn’t explain. In that moment, what we both needed was to simply believe.

I went to Mungo’s to sit with Uncle Draco for a while after that.  I didn’t talk to him this time; if I told him everything that was happening, it would make it all real. Instead, my thoughts were with Silas. I’d crept past his room during the few visits I’d made since the attack, wanting to talk to him but not knowing what to say and scared what would come of it. Was there any part of him that blamed me for all that had happened?

I kissed Uncle Draco’s forehead and slipped down the hall to Silas’s door. No visitors, as usual. Silas himself was fast asleep. I tiptoed inside and watched him for a moment. The ugly gash on his cheek couldn’t hide how handsome he really was. The mask he normally wore had slipped in his unconscious state, reminding me that I didn’t really know who he was, deep down. But a big part of me wanted to find out.

In the end, I couldn’t bring myself to wait for him to wake. Instead, I found a bit of spare parchment and quill on the bedside table and sat to scrawl a quick note. By the time I’d discarded all my drafts, the remaining piece of torn parchment was quite small; I only had room to write the one thing I knew with 100 percent certainty to be true.  I’m glad you’re okay. –C

I left the parchment beside him and snuck out the door.

*     *     *     *     *

When I finally returned to the Leaky Cauldron that evening, Mrs. Longbottom was nowhere to be seen. The pub wasn’t too crowded, so I pulled out a barstool and sat to wait for her. As I perused a menu, trying to decide what to order to take back to my room, I suddenly felt a presence to my right. I automatically shifted away, uncomfortable with the person’s closeness, but then I heard a voice that sounded vaguely familiar. “Long day, dear?”

It couldn’t be. Slowly, I brought my gaze up to meet yet another pair of green eyes, this time behind a pair of tacky, bejeweled spectacles. How in Voldemort’s reach did she know where to find me?

“Funerals are never easy,” she clucked sympathetically, rummaging around inside her hideous crocodile skin bag. “Would you say you and your aunt were close?”

“I know who you are,” I said, looking down at the menu again.  “What could you possibly want from me?”

“I’ve been doing my research, Cecily, and I just find it all so intriguing.”

“Sorry, what’s so intriguing, exactly?”

“You saved a fellow student’s life, my dear!” Rita exclaimed. “Not to mention your intimacy with former Death Eaters and their families as well as the so-called Golden Trio’s clan.” She began ticking off items on her fingers, her long, sharp nails visible in my peripheral vision. “Then there’s all the unanswered questions about your mother’s death, information the Ministry absolutely refuses to release. And the fact that no one has swooped in to claim this lovely, brilliant, lonely little girl in the face of so much tragedy. And, of course, the interest you seem to have sparked in young Mr. Potter after so many years of bachelorhood.”

Now I did look at her. I stared, in fact. She gave me what I presumed was her winningest smile.  “I’m not—How do you even—"

“I know everything, love. And if I don’t, I find out. Now”—she finally extracted a quill from her purse and sucked on the end while whipping out a piece of parchment—“what would you like our readers to know about your relationship with Albus Potter?”

"Potter?" I repeated dumbly. "We're just—"

"Friends? Acquaintances?" Rita's eyes gleamed behind those cheap, plastic lenses.

I frowned and shook my head. Neither of those were right. "No—"

She let out a shrill laugh. "I should think not, given how cosy you were in Hogsmeade recently." She leaned forward, overwhelming me with her foul perfume. "And let's not forget this endearing moment." She whipped out a photograph and placed it on the bar in front of us: Potter and me outside the Ministry, his hand on my waist.

I shook my head again. "You don't understand—"

“OUT!” came a yell from behind me before I could even think to formulate a sensical response. I jumped as Mrs. Longbottom appeared behind the bar, shaking a broom at Rita menacingly. “We don’t serve the likes of you in this establishment!”

“As if I would be caught dead eating here, love,” Rita sniffed. She hopped up and turned to me as she stuffed the quill and parchment back into her bag. “Don’t worry, Cecily; I’ll have my story one way or another.” Then she threw me a saucy wink and sashayed out the door.

*     *     *     *     *

I figured the joke was on Rita Skeeter, because I’d stopped reading the news anyway. It had become increasingly obvious that unless Mr. Potter made some big break in the case—and fast—Scorpius would certainly not get a fair trial. It physically pained me to think of my cousin shipped off to Azkaban. True, the prison was no longer guarded by dementors, but it was still haunted by all the memories of the inherently dark creatures that had inhabited it for so long, and all those they had driven to ruin. It still caused madness in plenty of the occupants.

Rose stopped by a couple of days after the funeral, looking like absolute hell and brandishing a copy of the Daily Prophet. I groaned. “You aren’t the least bit curious what she wrote about you?” she demanded.

I flipped open the newspaper and skimmed Rita’s column. Several parts jumped out at me, but I couldn’t be arsed to read the whole thing.

…bastard daughter of Daphne Greengrass, an Unspeakable who was tragically killed nearly eight years ago while on assignment for the Department of Mysteries. Circumstances of her death have never been revealed to the public. The identity of her father is unknown…

…tragic heroine. Miss Greengrass’s quick thinking and impeccable spellwork saved Silas Avery’s life after her deranged cousin’s unwarranted attack…

…When asked about his lady love, the young Mr. Potter suggested in response that yours truly should perform an act upon herself that is both unprintable and physically impossible…

…His father, Harry Potter, whose mental acuity and psychological health has gone untested since his many brushes with death at the hands of Lord Voldemort, believes Mr. Malfoy to be innocent…

“Lovely,” I deadpanned, tossing the paper back at Rose. “Did McLaggen interview you as well?”

My best friend scowled. “Just as foul as his offspring, isn’t he?”

“Ivy and Imogene never stood a chance,” I agreed.

“He asked me if I ever feared for my life around Scorpius and I lost it. I’m talking absolute hysterics.” Rose rolled her eyes. “Everyone knows Scorpius is completely terrified of me.”

I half-smiled at that. “So true.”

Rose sat on the bed next to me and took my hand. “Come back to school, CeCe.” She beseeched me. “Don’t try to do this alone.”

What Rose didn’t understand was that I’d always been better off alone. “Just…give me a little while. I’m not quite ready.”

Her face was so pale that her blue eyes were even more startling than usual. She bit her bottom lip as she studied me, then sighed. “At least promise me you’ll owl me if there’s anything I can do.”

“Of course,” I assured her.

*     *     *     *     *

I didn’t owl her. In fact, I stopped paying attention to the passage of time completely after that. My professors kept sending my schoolwork, but it just piled up; for once, I didn’t care. All I felt was an overwhelming sense of helplessness. So I did what came most naturally to me—I escaped into my books. On the rare occasion I left the Leaky Cauldron, it was to visit Scorpius or Uncle Draco, whose condition remained unchanged.

I had no idea what day it was when I heard the knock at my door. “I have enough towels, thanks,” I called, my eyes never leaving Ludo Bagman’s atrocious yet addictive autobiography.

“Well, bully for you, Greengrass, but I feel obliged to tell you that I couldn’t care less.”

“Potter?” I launched myself out of bed and padded over to the door, yanking it open. He was stood just outside looking distinctly windblown, inky hair as messy as ever and emerald eyes blazing. “What the hell are you doing here?”

“Tut, tut. Is that the kind of greeting a bloke is to expect from his lady love?” He strolled past me and stopped in the middle of the room, surveying my belongings scattered about haphazardly. “Can’t say I liked what you’ve done with the place. Since when have you been this messy?”

I scowled, face flushing, as I shut the door, crossing my arms over my chest as I suddenly became aware of exactly how thin my camisole was. Also, when was the last time I’d showered? I surreptitiously sniffed an armpit while his back was turned. Not as bad as I’d expected. “Seriously, Potter. Why are you here?”

He didn’t even bother looking at me as he stooped to open my trunk. “I intend to succeed where Rose failed. I’m taking you back to school.”

I stormed over, seething, and slammed the lid shut. “You most certainly are not.”

Potter turned to face me. “Enough is enough, Greengrass. You can’t just hide out here forever.”

I clenched my jaw. “I’m not hiding, Potter. I’m grieving.”

He took a step closer and crossed his own arms, mirroring me as he studied my face. “No, you’re not,” he decided almost immediately. “You’re just avoiding.”

I glared at him. His audacity never ceased to amaze me. “How dare you—”

“Dad finally got me down to see Scorp today,” Potter interrupted, “and even he’s worried about you.”

Scorpius is worried about me?” I repeated, incredulous. 

“Yes. He hates it when you shut yourself away from everything. Surely you’re aware of that.” I didn’t bother responding. Of course I was aware of that. Every remotely negative thing that happened in my life was generally swiftly followed by my cousin’s incessant pestering; he flat-out refused to let me sink into myself like I always craved. “So start packing.” Potter flipped the lid of the trunk open again and busied himself piling a few nearby books and articles of clothing inside, stopping only to examine, with great interest, one of the lacy bras Rose had talked me into purchasing at the Department of Mysteries.

He raised an amused eyebrow as I snatched it away, rage coiling in my chest. “I’m not doing this, Potter! I’m not ready.” I swallowed at his unwavering gaze. “It’s not that easy.”

“Yes, it is,” he returned.

Predictably, I snapped. “How the hell would you know?” I all but shouted at him. “You live such a charmed fucking life. Nothing bad has ever even happened to you! You’ve never lost anyone you love.”

Potter’s eyes blazed again, but when he spoke, his voice was quiet. “Just because no one I love dearly has died doesn’t mean I haven’t lost them, Greengrass. I know what that emptiness is like; that vast, unfillable—”

“That’s not actually a word,” I mumbled.

He plowed right on, ignoring me completely.  “—void that is the absence of someone you love being there every single day.” I could do nothing but gape at him. Potter, talking to me about feelings? “I’ve felt the helplessness that comes with knowing that your life will never be the same again, because they were such a significant part of you that you are fundamentally different without them; with knowing that you can’t change a single goddamn thing that happened no matter how badly you want to.”

I wanted to close my eyes and ears, to not let his words affect me, but I couldn’t stop watching him as he crept toward me once more. “Maybe because it lacks this kind of permanence, I haven’t felt any of it as keenly as you, if you’ve even allowed yourself to feel anything”—Christ, I hated how well he actually understood me—“but I’m not completely clueless. And you know what else I know?” He was mere inches away now, and I tilted my head up to meet his gaze. “I know that the world won’t stop just because yours has turned on its head. You can’t move past it, only through it, and only by living your damn life.” I could see nothing but those golden flecks enveloped by emerald green. “And I know that you’re strong enough to do exactly that.”

I swallowed again, hard. “How could you possibly know that?” I asked in a small voice.

“Because there’s no way in hell you could have endured all the tragedy in your life without that kind of strength,” he said simply, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. “You amaze me.” My shock at those last three words, almost a whisper, wasn’t quite enough to mask the swooping feeling in my belly. Potter studied me a few seconds longer before finally turning away. “Which is why it’s that much more infuriating that you’re pulling this bullshit. You never have enough confidence in yourself.” He thrust a few quills into my trunk with unnecessary force.

I released a breath I hadn’t even realised I’d been holding. Instinctively, I knew he was right, but I would never admit that to him. Instead, I tried to change the subject. “Look, I can appreciate that you want to do this for Scorp—”

“It’s not just for Scorpius.” Potter didn’t look at me as he stoppered the bottles of ink sitting on the desk and packed them carefully. “Other people need you, Greengrass. Rose does nothing but cry and sleep and refuse to eat.  Louis has been dressing like a homeless Muggle rodeo clown.” He dusted off his hands and turned to face me again. “And I need you, too.”

That same feeling swooped through my stomach once more, though I was immediately suspicious. “You do?” I asked cautiously.

Potter smirked. “Of course. Imogene McLaggen has been filling in for you on patrols, and she’s almost as insufferable as her sister. Ridiculous amount of eyelash-batting and the like. She’s driving me up the damn wall.”

I stared at him for a moment. In spite of everything, I couldn’t keep the corner of my mouth from turning up. “Why, Potter, you flatter me.” He shot me a bewildered look. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that you actually prefer my company to that of another.”

Potter rolled his eyes. “Well, you do know better. So let’s not get carried away.”

I ignored him. “If you want me to do you this enormous favour by going back to school—”

“Yep, instant regret.”

“—then I need you to do something for me.”

Potter sighed wearily and dropped the books he was holding onto the bed. “Well, I can’t say I wasn’t expecting this day to come,” he said as he began unbuckling his belt. I quickly stepped toward him and grabbed his arms. He started, but then smirked down at me. “Eager, aren’t we?”

“I’m serious, Potter,” I said, somehow managing to resist the urge to smack him upside the head. My heart fluttered in my chest as he continued to look down at me, which I attributed to my nervousness at telling him the idea that had been floating around in my head nonstop ever since the first night I’d visited my cousin in his dank cell.

“What, then?”

I took a deep breath and fixed him with my most solemn gaze. “You have to help me bust Scorpius out of the Ministry.”


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