Hogwarts Love Story pt 43

I think this might be my longest and most awful gap yet. I have no excuses. (Well, I have lots, but they're all very boring, I'm sure nobody is interested.)

Last chapter, you went to Slughorn's Christmas party with Harry, overheard Snape and Draco's argument, read a Daily Prophet article proclaiming Cedric to be dead, and received a cryptic piece of advice from your cousin-come-ex-nemesis, Rebecca.

Created by: vulturemonem
  1. I couldn't remember a Christmas that passed as gloomily as that one did, sitting in my parents' living room with my sister, the sounds of Christmas cheer that sounded all around unable to penetrate me. I felt numb. Cedric was gone, and there was nothing I could do to bring him back. And Rebecca's cryptic message - "people are liars" - had done nothing to improve my state of mind. How could it? It didn't mean anything. Of course people were liars. That didn't mean that whole article in the Prophet could somehow be negated. There were facts. There was proof. Cedric was dead, slaughtered by Death Eaters, and there was nothing I could do about it. It didn't help that Draco's words kept ringing in my ears, telling me that he thought he'd seen Cedric, and that Rebecca's message had been so perfectly timed. It gave me hope, and I knew all too well that it was hope I couldn't afford to have.
  2. The sympathies of my friends, upon returning to school after the holidays, only served to grate on my nerves. I knew they were trying to be kind, but I didn't want sympathy"”I wanted to forget. I wanted to forget everything about Cedric. I wanted to forget that he'd ever existed, and I wanted to forget that I'd loved him, and I wanted to forget that perhaps I still did. The notices in the dormitories informing us of the opportunity to enrol in apparition lessons served as a distraction rather than a pick-me-up.
  3. It wasn't until several days into term that Harry managed to talk me into a topic that caught my attention for more than two minutes. "Dumbledore wants you to retrieve a memory from Slughorn?" I asked, raising my eyebrows. "You're his favourite student," Ron said with a shrug as we negotiated our way through the crowds of first years to reach the dungeons. "He'll give you anything." "I don't know, Harry. You've got to be careful. If this memory is that important, and that sensitive, then you need a plan. You need to be careful." "That's what Hermione said," Harry admitted. "You just need to ask," Ron said, with a confidence that I wasn't entirely sure was called for. "He won't say no." We seated ourselves at the back, myself positioned pointedly between the boys and Hermione. I could feel Draco's eyes on me as I sat down, but I refused to turn around and look at him. I hadn't spoken to him since that night when he'd told me he thought he'd seen Cedric inside the Hogwarts grounds, and I couldn't face him now, after that article in the Daily Prophet. Not that I had much time to worry about it, as Slughorn scrawled instructions up on the board, directed us to a page in our textbooks, and asked us to make an antidote that was so complex the instructions made my eyes glaze over. "Looks like the Half Blood Prince isn't helping much today," Hermione said lightly, not looking up from her potion. I glanced over to Harry's cauldron, which was letting off a vile-smelling, mustard-coloured smoke, and winced a little. "Clearly not," I agreed.
  4. After the lesson, Hermione and I left Harry to attempt to retrieve the memory from Slughorn, and made our way out of the classroom. As we crossed over the threshold, I heard a voice behind us. "Cailey." I glanced over at Hermione, who shook her head. "Go on," she said, "talk to him. I'll see you later." I bid Hermione goodbye, and inhaled deeply before I turned to look at Draco. He had the fingers of one hand curled into a fist around his bag strap, and his face looked gaunt, haggard, as though he hadn't been sleeping much over Christmas. And god, I was angry, because Draco had made me hope that Cedric was alive, was okay, right before I'd had it confirmed that he wasn't. But seeing him like that, I felt some of my anger dissipate. "Cailey," he said again, ignoring the two Slytherin boys who wolf-whistled. "I"”" "Are we having a heart-to-heart?" I demanded, folding my arms across my chest. "Really, Draco? You spent three months insisting we couldn't be friends, couldn't speak, then you told me you saw my boyfriend in school, and then a few days later he turns up dead." Draco took half a step towards me, but I leant away, narrowing my eyes. "I'm sorry," he said. "But I know what I saw. That article, it"”" He glanced over his shoulder, as though concerned that someone was listening in, and lowered his voice. "There was something about that article. It was off. Something didn't add up." "What, the fact that you were so sleep deprived you hallucinated seeing Cedric?" I snapped. "I'm tired of this, Draco. I don't want people to keep giving me false hope. I can't grieve if people keep telling me he might be alive. You, and Rebecca, and my sister telling me that journalists lie, that maybe he's in hiding"”he's been missing for months. Everyone has known this was a possibility, and I'm tired - I'm so tired - of being told I can't grieve him being dead by giving my conspiracy theories." Draco stared at me, clearly more than a little taken aback by my words. He swallowed visibly, and said, "Well, then, I apologise for bothering you, Rivers." And, without another word, he stalked off, hitching his bag higher up on his shoulder, every muscle in his body saturated with tension.
  5. I slammed my bag down on the table when I reached the Great Hall for lunch. Hermione looked up at me with raised eyebrows. "Did someone try to hex you?" "Draco," I said, and the dark expression that stole across her face made it clear that she was harbouring no good will towards him. "Hermione, do you think Harry's right?" I asked, looking over at her and feeling desperation bleed into me. "About Draco? He's- He looks sick, and he doesn't talk to his friends, and he disappears entirely, and he's never at meals, and the things he says, it's so"”" I cut myself off, and shook my head. "No. Forget it. I'm being irrational." Hermione pursed her lips. "I don't think you're being irrational, Cailey. You know him better than I do." "I'm hardly more impartial than you are." "No, but you see sides of him that we don't," she said. "You see the bits of him that might have some potential for goodness." "There's goodness already there," I said, with a sigh. "He's just so good at burying it behind all this Slytherin bravado, like he needs to prove something. Like he has to act like a moron to be worthy of"”" I paused. "To be worthy of something." My mind flitted back to the conversation Harry and I had overheard Draco and Snape having, after Slughorn's party, and I stiffened a little. Could it be that Draco's odd behaviour was exactly because he needed to prove something"”to his new master? To Lord Voldermort?
  6. The weeks continued to pass by with Ron's unending snogging sessions with Lavender, the intolerable awkwardness between Ron and Hermione, and Harry's insistence that Draco had to be a Death Eater, and was definitely up to something fishy"”a conclusion that I was going to deny until I had any solid proof. Whatever wavering doubts I'd had while discussing the topic with Hermione were pushed well out of my mind. Draco was my friend, not matter how much he was trying to ensure we didn't speak, and I wasn't going to consider that there really was such a vast, awful divide between us.
  7. The common room was largely empty, one Saturday morning, during which I was scanning through a Transfiguration essay while I waited for Hermione so we could go down to breakfast. There was a gaggle of second years playing exploding snap in one corner, but otherwise, students were still asleep. I'd woken early and been unable to get back to sleep, so had taken to opportunity to get some work done while I had the advantage of some quiet. I didn't, however, expect to be interrupted by Harry and Ron coming down the stairs rather noisily, Ron blathering on about being desperate to see someone. I pulled a face, and turned round to look at the pair. "Are you two capable of shutting up?" I asked, mildly, raising my eyebrows. "It's a Saturday morning." "He ate my chocolates," Harry said, "which were a present courtesy of Romilda Vane." "Oh." I bit my lip in an attempt not to laugh. "Has he"”" The unmistakable squeal of Lavender Brown met my ears, and I winced. She sucked in a visible breath, clearly preparing to throw herself at Ron, until Ron said, "Leave me alone. Harry's going to introduce me to Romilda Vane." Lavender gaped at him, while Harry marched him promptly out of the common room, and then turned accusing, rapidly-moistening eyes on me, as though Ron's sudden change in affections was my doing. "What," she asked, voice wobbling dangerously, "was that?" "I believe, Lavender, that's called f---le love," I said, pointedly looking back down at my essay. I knew, really, that I was supposed to have told her the truth, but if I had to fly through another Quidditch practise with Lavender screaming and squealing from the stands, I was going to walk out in protest. And perhaps if Ron managed to grow a pair and dump her, or act like enough of a jerk to get her to dump him, nobody would have to suffer, and he and Hermione would start talking again. "I can't believe"”" Lavender cut herself off, stifling a sob, just as Hermiome appeared at the top of the stairs. Lavender rushed past her, up to the girls' dormitory, and Hermione raised her eyebrows. "Trouble in paradise?"
  8. "Have you heard from Remus, lately?" Hermione asked, as we sat at breakfast. Hermione had the Daily Prophet spread out in front of her, but I was loathe to read a paper again after I'd seen that headline about Cedric. I'd dreamt about it the previous night, and I couldn't bring myself to glance down at the day's headlines, for fear of what I'd see. "He sent me an owl at Christmas," I told her. "He was at the Burrow. I'm not sure he's having much success with the werewolves." "Harry said the same," Hermione agreed. "I thought Remus might be able to convince Harry that he needs to let go of all his theories about Draco and Snape, but he's still spending his every free moment pouring over the Map." I opened my mouth to respond, when a hand rested on my shoulder. I glanced up to see Ginny standing there, pale-faced with fear in her eyes. "Cailey, Hermione," she said, "you have to come. Ron's in the hospital wing." I gaped, as Hermione stood up, knocking her leg against the bench in her haste to stand. "What? What happened?" "He was poisoned," Ginny said. "Something about a poisoned bottle of mead. I don't know, Harry just told me, I"”" "Alright, alright," I said, before anybody started crying, because god knew I'd done enough crying over Christmas, and I wasn't entirely sure I could hold myself together if everyone else started. "Let's go."
  9. Fred and George Weasley were already seated by Ron's bed, along with Harry, apparently deep in discussion over how the poisoning had occurred, when the three of us arrived. Hermione, tight-lipped and silent, sat in a vacant chair, and Fred looked up. "Hi," he said, with a weak smile. "Fancy seeing you hear." I smiled back as best I could, and said, "What a coincidence. How's he doing?" "He'll be fine, Madam Promfrey says," George told them. "But Harry's hero of the hour, as always." There was no heat in George's words, merely teasing, but Harry didn't laugh, or crack a smile. Instead, he shook his head. "It was lucky there was a bezoar in the room, forget thinking of it." "Any idea who was responsible?" I asked, as Ginny padded around to sit beside Hermione. I stayed standing, feeling a little restless. "None," Harry said, looking incredibly weary. "The mead was intended for Dumbledore, but clearly it didn't get there." "Could the poison have been in the glass?" Fred asked. "Could it have been planted by Slughorn?" "But why would Slughorn want to kill Ron?" Ginny asked. "That doesn't make sense." The discussion continued for several minutes, until the somewhat uncomfortable arrival of Mr and Mrs Weasley demanded the removal of some people to comply with Madam Pomfrey's strict visiting rules. Harry rose, and I waved Hermione down when she, too, offered to leave.
  10. I glanced over at Harry as we headed up to the Gryffindor dormitory. "Are you alright?" "Fine," he said, with a little shrug. "Hagrid told Hermione and I earlier than Snape was arguing with Dumbledore." "Harry, are you really still on about this? Ron's just been poisoned." Harry shot me a glare. "I know, Cailey, I just"” I know something's going on, and Dumbledore won't look at any of it. It's like everyone is determined to believe that Malfoy, of all people, is innocent." "Or," I suggested, gently, "maybe Dumbledore knows more about what's going on than you do." "Then why won't he tell me?" "I don't know. Because you're a student, and you should be worrying about other things? Because he's Dumbledore, and he's a little bit insane?" Harry let out a reluctant laugh as we entered into the common room, only to be assaulted by Cormac McLaggen, who was determined to secure himself a place on the Quidditch team. "Look," I said, impatiently, after a few moments of listening to the two boys talk. "Someone's been poisoned, McLaggen, give it a rest. We'll see you at practise tomorrow." McLaggen stared at me as though I'd blasphemed grotesquely, and then turned on his heel with a snooty huff. "Thanks," Harry said, quietly. "No problem. Just get rid of him as soon as you can." "With pleasure. Cailey, I was wondering. Malfoy. Have you noticed anything? Have you seen where he's going?" I exhaled. "No," I said. "Nothing more than I've told you before. Nothing more than is blatantly obvious. I really think you need to let this go, Harry, because I'm not spying for you, and you're not going to end up doing anything good by pushing at this." I shook my head. "You've got to drop it. I'll see you in the morning." And, with that, I said goodnight, turned, and headed up to bed, for what would undoubtedly be another restless night filled with awful dreams about Cedric Diggory.

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