You are viewing a story from harrypotterfanfiction.com


To Doom a Soul by AutumnDreamer

Format: Novel
Chapters: 5
Word Count: 19,218
Status: Abandoned

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Mild Language, Mild Violence, Substance Use or Abuse

Genres: Drama, Romance, Young Adult
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Lucius, Draco, OC
Pairings: Harry/Hermione, Draco/OC

First Published: 12/15/2006
Last Chapter: 02/27/2007
Last Updated: 02/27/2007

Summary:
Cordelia Anne McLean is in her final year at Hogwarts, along with Harry, Ron, Draco, and Hermione.  Her unique gift draws the attention of others, and while she loves to help, sometimes taking the pain of others becomes too much.  When Draco realizes he's always loved her, they take the leap and try a relationship, something Malfoy has never been good at.  It seems no matter which way she turns, Cordelia alters the future and hurts somebody she cares about, the question is: Which soul should she doom to hell?


Chapter 1: The Prologue
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

The Prologue


She stood at the window looking out at the setting sun, the fiery orb casting a heavenly glow atop her rich honey-blonde hair. A single piece of parchment was clutched in her hand, a name scrawled across the center in evenly neat script. She had folded it in half and sealed it, a black seal representing her family name. The young woman cried as she realized what she had already known: he would be home late, and she would be long gone by the time he received her message. Smiling sadly, she turned back to the desk, immaculately organized and completely free of dust, and took a seat once again. A single tear cascaded down her flushed cheeks, falling soundlessly to the note she laid neatly on top of the desk: a last sign of her passing.


In one swift motion she stood again, the wooden chair scraping against the polished wooden floors, sending shivers up and down her spine. She retreated from the room, her silken gown making her seem like some sort of ghost, an apparition of love once alive and vibrant but now gone dead and cold. She threw on a heavy cloak of black velvet and seemed to blend in with the black wooden walls of the hallway as she stepped into it. She retreated down the stairs; her bare feet leaving no sign or sound of her passing, as if she had planned deliberately that it would seem she had never been there at all.


At the bottom of the stairs covered in rich black carpet she paused, hesitating for a fraction of a second, contemplating her decision for the millionth time. The young woman allowed one last tear to escape her vibrant blue eyes, following its trail mentally as it rolled down her milky white skin and around her full red lips, hanging precariously from her chin as if suffering the same indecision as the person who shed it. With a final quiver, the diamond tear drop fell, landing without preamble upon the wooden banister, the candlelight from a sconce reflecting in it brightly, making a beacon noticeable to even an untrained eye, should somebody walk in the door. A last sign to him from her. Without another pause or thought, the young girl opened the door and slipped out into the night, tucking her long blonde hair deep within the hood of her cloak so that she became a tendril of the night.


Hours later, when the sun began to rise and tinge the sky a light pink, the large door of black oak swung forward and a young man, hardly twenty, stepped through, flinging his warm woolen cloak from his shoulders and slamming the door behind him. Without looking up from a stack of papers in his hand he placed his cloak on a coat stand, and then ran his now free hand through his long, platinum blonde hair. His icy blue eyes ran rapidly over the information his brain struggled to take in quickly, but a flicker of light from a place it did not belong distracted him, calling his attention away from work to its bright and radiant glow.


A single drop of water sat on his staircase banister of polished black oak that matched his door, walls, and floors, and it clearly did not belong. The young man stepped closer, and a scent reached his nostrils that sparked a flood of memories. A sweet, cake-like smell, the gentle scent of vanilla, mixed with night blooming jasmine, drifted through his hallway, a scent that he had not smelled in almost two years. His breath caught in his throat and his fingers touched the diamond shaped drop of water: he recognized it as a tear, a sign meant to show that she had been there.


“Cordelia?” he called softly, almost as if he was afraid he might startle her. “Cordelia, are you still here?” He followed her scent that lead him up the stairs, searching for some other sign of her passing, but he found none. He stopped outside of his office door and took a deep breath, a small attempt to calm his racing heart. Slowly, he turned the knob, hoping that the beautiful young woman would be waiting on the other side, but knowing the tear left on the banister meant she had left. He stepped into the room and saw it was as he left it, with one small change: a folded piece of parchment lay across his otherwise clean desk.


Hesitantly, he approached his desk, recognizing the neat handwriting that ran across the parchment, spelling his name. “Draco Malfoy” blinked at him, a rainbow of colors shining and changing as if under a phosphorescent light, a touch which Cordelia had always enjoyed using on any letter she wrote be it happy or sad. His long white fingers caressed the seal of black wax, a formal gesture that only implied bad news. Carefully, he picked up the letter and broke the wax guard, reading her last words to him.


Dearest Draco,


I write this to you now planning to leave your life for the rest of eternity, never to darken or brighten your doorway again for as long you live. Please understand that I tried, for as long as any girl could, to understand and accept your double nature, to love you despite the dark evil that lay dormant, but dangerous, within the very pits of your soul. Honestly, I did try, but you became steadily darker with each passing day, taking me with you until one day I looked in the mirror and could not find myself. I saw my face, my hair, my body, but my eyes held a morbid secret, a morose feeling so complete I could not smile. This was why I chose to leave, and stay away, remaining distant, discreet, and invisible for two long years, despite my strong desire to see you, hold you in my arms and reaffirm my love for you.


I watched you after I left, saw you grow more bitter towards me with each passing day that I did not return, or did not leave a sign that I still cared. I watched you grow cold towards the few good people you still associated with, falling deeper and deeper into the dark circle of hell that your father placed so stubbornly in front of you, hoping that one day you would follow in his shadow, working for the Dark Lord as he tried to destroy all of innocence and purity. I doubted my decision those two years, part of me thinking that it was my leaving that finally pushed you over the edge, and I considered coming back to you every single day. Sometimes I crept into your bedroom at night and took my place next to you, never waking you up, but offering comfort. It was these times that I realized you would never change, and that my leaving had not forced your turn of fate, for you were the same cold, evil-natured man as you wrapped your arms around me and murmured sweet words of love in Portuguese in my ear while you slept on.


I do love you, Draco Malfoy, and I will love you always, until my dying day. Come what may, you will always remain in my heart, and I will continue to watch you, to observe your actions, though you will never know when I’m there and when I am not. I leave you the ring you gave me on my eighteenth birthday, the day you made me the happiest of all girls by requesting that I become your wife. Even now I wish things could be different as I look at the perfect three sapphires you chose and set yourself in platinum as perfect as your hair. You loved me unconditionally then, before you fell deeper and deeper into the Dark Arts. If you still possessed the same potential as you did then, I would not be writing this letter to you now.


The sun sets quickly, Draco, tinting the sky a scarlet color so close to the shade of the blood that you will spill someday in the name of the Dark Lord Voldemort. My time here has ended, and any sign of my coming you find will be intentional: you well know that if I do not wish to be found, I will remain hidden. Once again, I love you still, Draco, and I hope that you will forgive me for the cruel injustice I am bestowing upon you. Your strength of character will not allow you to die for it, although you once vowed to do just that if I ever left you, and so I harbor no fears that you will attempt to take your own life. Farewell, Prince of Darkness, may the flight of devils bring you to your rest.


            Love for eternity,


            Cordelia Anne McLean


               Draco didn’t realize he stood there crying until his salty tears dotted the page in his hand, smearing the rainbow ink and making parts of it difficult to read. Not that it mattered: the words would forever remain in his mind, seared into his heart and into the very essence of the soul which Cordelia so tactfully claimed he no longer possessed. The last line hurt him the most…“Farewell, Prince of Darkness, may the flight of devils bring you to your rest.”  So poetically final, so complete, that the phrase could only have been written by his lovely Cordelia.


“Farewell, my beautiful Belladonna,” he whispered to the last letter, kissing it tenderly as his hands shook with a fierce rage. “May your poison spread within your own body, taking your life as it took mine, leaving you cold with nothing but regrets to comfort you in the darkness of midnight purple you create.” With a flick of his long white fingers the letter burst into flame and floated lazily to the floor, shriveling before his eyes. “My heart is now as black and lifeless as these ashes.” He turned and left the dark stain on the floor, slamming the heavy door as he left the room.


Chapter 2: Rivalry and Recognition
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Travel back now, to the year 2004 on a day consumed by a raging storm, drenching muggles and wizards alike as they rushed inside the train station. The day was September 1st, and young witches and wizards in training swarmed through the barrier dividing Platform 9 ¾ from the muggle world, excitedly boarding the Hogwarts Express, some for the first time, other for what felt like the millionth time. All wore looks of joy and excitement on their faces, a glow of magical glee that could not be dampened even by the torrential rain that formed an almost solid wall outside.


 One young woman walked alone, obviously in her seventh year, she was confident in where she was going. Her head was cast down, making her long honey-blonde tresses fall across her face, hiding her beauty from the world around her. She marched to the very back of the train, taking the last compartment for herself and carefully stowing her trunk above her head. Without ceremony she pulled a small book from her shoulder bag and plopped onto the plushy bench, taking the seat closest to the window, prepared to read for the entire journey.


The train started to move, and young Cordelia hardly noticed, determined to learn every last spell and incantation in her book so that Professor McGonagall would find no reason to complain about her performance. She adjusted her cloak half-heartedly, not noticing or looking when she ripped green and silver silk at the hem. Any other Slytherin might have tried to mend it, taking a certain pride in wearing the Slytherin colors, but Cordelia felt no warm feelings towards her house, nor did she possess any that implied animosity. She simply did not care, one way or the other, having decided long ago that dividing young students into houses only gave purpose to discrimination and childish pranks, making the act of sorting itself a childish idea and long out-dated. Cordelia read on, not hearing anything other than the words she said in her own mind.


She became instantly aware when the compartment door slid open slowly and a lone figure stepped inside, the hood of his cloak pulled over his face so that he could neither see, nor be seen. He didn’t seem to notice her as he took a seat across from her, muttering under his breath to what Cordelia assumed was himself. She tried to ignore the noise and concentrate, determined to avoid making a scene when it wasn’t necessary, but his voice broke through her thoughts and forced her focus to him.


Frustrated, she let out a tremendous sigh, startling the young man out of his not-so-silent reverie. “I’m sorry to disturb you,” Cordelia said politely as he lifted his head, “But you’re being rather loud and I’m trying to study. It’s my N.E.W.T. year, after all, and my classes are extremely difficult.” Their eyes met and Cordelia instantly recognized the person to whom she spoke. Unlike other students, however, she did not look away or apologize profusely for disturbing him. Instead she glared defiantly into his icy blue eyes, determined to win.


Her act of will intrigued Draco, catching him off guard. He took in her Slytherin colors and her striking beauty, recognizing her instantly. However, being the jerk he always had been, he decided to play as if he didn’t know her in the least. She knew him, after all, and dared to try to face him down after all those years when he had never bestowed misery upon her, leaving her alone and forcing others to as well. He never understood why, but he didn’t care. She needed to be taught a lesson. “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize anybody else was in here,” he said, his voice dripping with pride so intense it made Cordelia nauseous. “Feel free to leave at any time, I don’t mind at all.” He began to lower his head again.


Cordelia’s jaw dropped, completely shocked at the arrogance that one boy possessed. Her anger tore through her, getting the better of her, and before she could stop her mouth was releasing a long list of words. “Who in Merlin’s name do you think you are?” she demanded, her own pride greatly offended by his manners. “I was here first, thank you, so you may find somewhere else to talk to your other personalities.” Her insult inspired an admiration for her, something which Draco had never felt for another student before.


“I beg your pardon!” he retorted, his head shooting up and his hood falling back to reveal his platinum blonde hair that closely matched her own. “Do you have any idea who you’re speaking to, woman?” His voice rose with each word.


Cordelia leapt to her feet, flinging her book to the seat as she did so, sparks flying from her wand as it reacted to her considerable anger. “Yes, I do, Draco, and I’ve never bothered to put up with you before, I’m most certainly not about to now! And don’t you dare call me ‘woman’ in such a disdainful and derogatory manner ever again if you wish to keep both of your testicles attached to your body!”


Draco’s face grew pale as he understood the threat, the meaning needing no explanation for comprehension. Shock chased the fear away as he realized she had called him “Draco” rather than “Malfoy” or “Young Malfoy”, which meant that she clearly didn’t fear his wrath the way others in Slytherin house did.


“I’m sorry,” Draco said slowly, rising to his feet with careful grace as he searched the young woman’s face. Her eyes dazzled him as they met his own, a vibrant blue hue that danced with the fury so aptly displayed on her flawless face. “How do you know me?” He grinned inwardly at the anger and surprise that danced in her eyes with that last statement.


She stared at him, dumbstruck by his stupidity. “You cannot seriously stand there and expect me to give you my name for the millionth time since our first year!” she cried out incredulously, her cheeks flushing a faint scarlet as her anger flared to greater heights. She glared into his eyes, a defiance and resentment gleaming clearly at his own, sparking his decision to give her recognition.


“McLean,” he muttered, gasping with feigned surprise. “You always were a trouble maker, associating with Hufflepuffs, Ravenclaws, and even Gryffindor despite the Slytherin Code.”


“Why should I isolate myself from the rest of the school?” she shot back, crossing her arms over her chest as she returned to her seat. “Slytherins are on the outs with the rest of the school by choice, and are the real outcasts. I blend in everywhere, making no discrimination when choosing friends so that I may go far in my chosen career.” She spoke to Draco slowly, as if explaining something extremely complicated to a small child, or possibly an idiot, a condescending gesture which Draco took immediate offense to.


“How dare you speak…” Draco began, but Cordelia cut him off with her own retort.


“How dare I what?” she raged, her eyes flashing dangerously in his direction, swirling with several hues of blue that mesmerized Draco against his will. Her anger startled him into taking his seat again. “How dare I speak to you in the same manner which you spoke to me? How dare I give you a taste of your own medicine? How dare I make you feel like you stand a mere three inches above the level of the floor?” She laughed. “I dare because my name is Cordelia Anne McLean, and I am second to no man and no woman. You have no power here, Draco Malfoy, now be gone before you get a stronger dose of your own medicine. Believe me when I say it would give me great pleasure to try some of the spells on you that you’ve been practicing on innocent muggles over the summer.” Her look of knowing frightened Draco, but he stood his ground.


“I won’t bother you anymore,” he whispered hoarsely, trying not to choke on his emotions. “But I will not leave this compartment.” She picked up her book and didn’t deign to make a reply, a sign to Draco that she wouldn’t force him to do anything so long as he let her be.


“How does she know what I’ve done with my summer? Is she clairvoyant?” Draco studied her out of the corner of his eye, pretending to stare out the window as the city scenery gradually became country land. “She doesn’t look like that old bat, Trelawney, but that doesn’t mean anything. I always thought Professor Trelawney was an old fraud anyway.” His sharp eyes went over every soft curve of her face, still feeling the powerful pull of her eyes, though they were directed at the book now and not glaring daggers into his heart, as they had been doing just moments before. “Her eyes…there’s something about her eyes…they look centuries older than she is, but that’s not really possible. She must know great tragedy.” His cold eyes softened slightly at the thought, wondering what misery she could possibly harbor.


“Do you mind not staring at me so hard?” Cordelia asked suddenly, her eyes still focused on her book. “It’s rather distracting, and you’re making the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.”


Draco was startled into an apology. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to distract you.” He sounded sincere, and Cordelia laughed, a tinkling of bells that sounded nothing like the harsh laughter she had released while insulting him. Draco felt himself smiling in spite of himself, charmed by her endearing personality.


“You weren’t so much distracting me as creeping me out, really,” she amended, smiling wryly. “You’re distracting me now, however, by talking to me. I suppose I have to be social and carry on the conversation.” She marked the page she read through and put it back into her shoulder bag and looked him in the eye. Her swirling orbs caught Draco in her spell once again, and he found he could not look away.


Cordelia’s eyes dove deep into his soul, finding his darkest secrets and deepest desires. Her heart grew cold at what she saw: things that were past, things that were going on inside Draco at that very moment and things that had not yet come to pass. Her soul found his, recognizing the potential to great good, but a strange and dormant desire to cause harm, a trait passed on to Draco from his father, but one that had yet to become a permanent fixture in his heart. “He has potential to be a source of great good, or a source of great evil. This year will determine his decision.”  Cordelia looked away with her last thought, her swirling blue eyes fading to a faultless sapphire hue that sparkled with an intensity Draco craved to feel himself.


“You frighten many people, Draco,” she whispered, shuddering as the warmth of the train slowly chased away the cold feeling left in her by his soul. “But you’re not as evil as you’d like the world to think. There is still hope for you.”


Draco balked at her blunt statement, unable to shake off the feeling that she had been crawling in his mind like a worm of some sort, although he had sensed no thoughts and she used no wand or incantation. Suddenly he laughed a mirthless and hollow sound that sent chills rushing down her spine, a laugh that resembled something the Dark Lord would release. “You don’t realize what you’re talking to,” he declared coldly, turning his eyes back to the window. “I am as evil as my father, and as clever as the Dark Lord. My potential lies with my blackened heart.” He said this with conviction, but his voice sounded regretful, tinged with a desire for good that he did not rightly know he possessed.


Cordelia heard it, however, and her good-natured soul moved towards it, wanting desperately to save the small spark of light that remained inside of him, slowly being swallowed by the darkness of the Dark Arts. “Your potential lies with your soul, Draco, not your heart.” Her willowy voice melted his heart, spreading a rush of warmth through his body and making his stomach churn with nerves. She made him nervous and filled his stomach with butterflies, and the realization frightened him.


Before Draco could argue her assertion the compartment door slid open once again to reveal a pretty girl with thick, wavy brown hair and chocolate brown eyes that looked both wise and merry. She smiled happily at Cordelia, taking no notice of Draco sitting on the opposite side. “Cordelia!” she exclaimed, rushing to hug her. “I’m so sorry I’m late! But Harry and Ron got into a row with some of your housemates, and…” Her voice trailed off as she realized they weren’t alone. “Sorry, I didn’t realize you were in here with someone.” Draco lifted his head, smirking  haughtily. Hermione’s eyes grew wide with recognition, and the smile slid from her face with revulsion. “I’m sorry,” Hermione said scathingly, glaring for a moment at Draco before turning back to Cordelia. “Did I say someone? I meant something.


“Hermione, I’ve missed you so much!” Cordelia answered, ignoring her comment about Draco. “Don’t worry about being late, it was a pleasant wait. Draco here has been keeping me company, and despite his arrogance he’s almost completely tolerable.” She smiled dazzlingly, a contagious act that spread to Hermione, who grinned in spite of herself.


“I almost didn’t recognize you, Granger,” Draco interjected, sneering his contempt from his seat across the compartment. “You’re not covered in mud like the rest of the filth you come from. Guess that summer in France did you some good.”


Hermione glowered at him, her wand in her hand. Suddenly, she laughed, dropping her wand and balling her small, manicured hand into a fist. “Talk to me again, Malfoy, and I’ll give you another lesson you’re sure to remember for the rest of eternity.” She waved her fist and he shrunk back, remembering all too well how very powerful it was when swung in anger. “Anyway, Malfoy, you might want to go check on your body guards, Crabbe and Goyle. I think Harry and Ron had some help from Ginny and Seamus when hexing them. They didn’t resemble human beings when I managed to get away.” She giggled.


Cordelia’s eyes twinkled merrily at the thought, wondering what combination of curses produced what effects. Draco, on the other hand, look frightened at the idea that his cronies might not be able to protect him. He launched himself at the door and tore through the corridors, searching for the scene of disturbance.   

“He really is a great pratt, you know,” Hermione told Cordelia as she took Draco’s seat by the window across from her friend. “Why were you bothering to talk to him? He couldn’t have said anything worth putting up with him for.” Her skepticism dripped from her words, a potent honey Cordelia could practically taste in the air.


“Actually, I found it was a rather productive interlude,” she replied dreamily, eyes swirling with secrets and thoughts Hermione couldn’t fathom. “There’s so much about him nobody understands, something nobody sees.” She looked at Hermione, her eyes hard with a mean understanding of the world. “He has more to him than first meets the eye,” she warned, locking her stare with Hermione’s mocha eyes. “Don’t assume he is evil, for it is that thinking which will force him into the dark abyss of evil forever.”


“What did you see, Cordelia?” Hermione wondered out loud, staring intensely at her friend. “What did you See?”


“You know I can tell you nothing,” she insisted, frowning at Hermione’s question. “The future is an uncertain mystery, shrouded in mist and fog so thick that even the most clear images are dangerous to believe. I do not know which things were true and which were not: the future holds much potential and changes with each decision made. I know not which of my visions will come to pass and which will never occur at all. The journey lies written, but the path and the end lie in darkness." 

The young woman sighed then, a long gust of breath that bespoke frustration. “There is great evil in him, Hermione,” she whispered, eyes watering with fear of the unknown. “But there is great kindness within him as well. He lies on the peak of a mountain; standing precariously near the edge of evil, but a pull from outside can send him away from the edge to safety. Do not be the force that pushes him over the mountain, Hermione, for he will be lost forever to us, as will his potential.”


“You know much more than we ever could,” Hermione shrugged, rolling her eyes. “Malfoy is already over the edge. He jumped years ago. I have no faith in him, and I refuse to trust him.” She looked warmly at her friend, worry clouding her eyes. “Don’t let yourself love him, Cordelia. He will hurt you in the end: his world revolves around him and no one else. His heart lacks the ability to love another other than his own name.”


The young blonde beauty opened her mouth, as if to make a reply, but Harry and Ron burst through the door loudly, laughing raucously at something they felt was incredibly funny. “Hermione!” Ron yelled, gasping for air. “You should have seen it! They looked like slugs with bat wings sprouting from where their noses should have been!” He roared with a lion-ish sound, a mixture of laughter and pride.


“It was rather funny,” Harry added calmly, smiling at the memory as he closed his eyes, almost as if he were trying to permanently fix the sight in his mind perpetually. He turned to Cordelia and smiled, recognizing her instantly although he hadn’t seen her all summer. “Hello, Cordelia. I see you and Hermione both enjoyed your holiday together in France. Was it educational, or did you force poor Hermy to have some fun?” He grinned at his own insinuation.


“I made her go shopping and get her hair done,” she answered spiritedly, lighting up inside. “But then she became an addict and insisted we both get our nails done and then go to the spa for a full body regenerating. It was simply beautiful.”


Ron heard Harry call her Cordelia and his jaw dropped, hardly recognizing her. Hermione noticed and rolled her eyes, saying dryly, “Ron’s about to say something stupid to you, Cordelia. He’s drooling all over his shirt.” Ron turned bright red and clamped his mouth shut, offering a nod of hello to the blonde instead of a verbal one.


The sky grew steadily darker outside and the rain began to subside. The three Gryffindors and single Slytherin chatted amicably, catching each other up on the parts of the summer they hadn’t shared together, or swapping rumors they had heard in their travels. Ron and Harry, it seemed, had shamelessly sought out gossip in several taverns and pubs, amused by the wild stories a drunk person might try to convince another of. 


“I couldn’t believe that old bloke really thought a mummy could come to life to take over man kind,” Ron mused, holding in a fit of laughter sure to burst his gut if released. “And then he tried to sell us some talisman to protect us from its evil, claiming it had saved his life on more than one occasion.”


“Yeah, he did,” Harry collaborated. “And when I asked him why he wouldn’t need it anymore, he told us he was far to old to be worth bothering with. I told him mummies had their brains removed and couldn’t think of a difference in ages: he would only know bloodlust, and the poor old bean nearly had a heart attack and decided not to sell us the medallion! It was priceless!” 


The girls giggled politely, finding very little about the story amusing, but not wishing to hurt Ron and Harry’s feelings by saying such. It’s an unspoken rule between friends that when they take the time to tell you something you listen and be interested, even if you really would rather jump off a bridge than listen to something they were trying to say. Girls honor this rule far more often than boys, but that’s another story entirely.


The sounds of the lunch trolley drifted through the glass window panes of the door, and Harry rose to buy everybody lunch. “It’s on me,” he informed them as they all began to fish coins from their pockets.


“No, I insist that you let me,” Cordelia insisted, rising despite Harry’s motion for her to stay seated. “After all, you three have befriended me despite being a Slytherin, and I’m very grateful. Please, let me buy lunch.” She placed a hand on Harry’s arm and smiled winningly, making Harry’s heart melt like butter.


“Don’t be silly,” Harry laughed, hoping she would not move her hand. “What kind of chivalry would I represent if I let a lovely lady pay for her own meal, let alone the meals of three others?” He cocked an eyebrow. “You wouldn’t want me to stain my honor, would you? I’ll be ostracized for the rest of eternity!” Cordelia laughed at his theatrical exaggeration, always a fan of the arts.


“Fine, but I’ll at least help you carry it,” she conceded, stepping through the compartment door and smiling at the trolley witch. Harry grinned in triumph and ordered a vast majority of the carts contents from pumpkin pasties to chocolate frogs and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans.


 
***


The train rolled into Hogsmeade under the cloak of darkness, the stars and moon blinking merrily in the sky, like fine diamonds and pearls sewn into a tapestry of smooth black silk. Cordelia reveled in the light of the moon, wishing she could walk to Hogwarts castle rather than climbing into one of the many carriages that would put a roof over her head, blocking the gentle glow from the beautiful orb. She said nothing to her companions, but climbed without complaint into a carriage that Harry held open. The four were joined by Susan Bones and Randy Armando, a boy from Ravenclaw also in his seventh year.


Cordelia and the Gryffindors smiled warmly at the others and conversation passed about summer vacations in much the same way as usual. However, Cordelia could feel a deep sadness seeping into her from an outside source, someone sitting within their carriage. Her eyes fell into alignment with Randy’s, and in the instant their eyes met she knew his greatest sadness had come to pass, and that he was in a bleak word for it. Wordlessly, she reached out and took his hand in hers, sending a wave of comfort from her heart to his.

“You will be fine, Randy,” she told him, confusing the others who knew nothing. “Her passing was painless and a reward. She smiles down on you now from a place full of sunshine and laughter.” A tear fell from her eyes as she continued. “There was nothing you could have done to save her, Randy: she was born sick, and now she is well.” Randy took a deep breath, trying desperately to keep from crying.


“How did you know?” he asked, voice cracking with emotion. 


“I know a great many things,” she answered, her voice a faint breath of summer wind. “Things that are, things that were, and things that have yet to become reality. Your thoughts betray your heart, and the heart of your sister. Do not dwell on thoughts of the past, for they destroy your future.” She lowered her voice and leaned to whisper in his ear. “Monica’s death will allow you to save the lives of many like her. Do not lose hope: instead, learn from the experience and give life to children suffering her ailment.”


She pulled away and let go of Randy’s hand, his tears calling on her own. Susan looked completely baffled, not knowing Cordelia’s ability like Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Ron opened his mouth to speak, but Hermione clamped her hand over it tightly, knowing him well enough to understand he was about to ask a forbidden question that would send Randy into a fit of depression. Ron looked at her angrily and crossed his arms over his chest, giving up. Harry stared at Cordelia, her eyes still locked with Randy’s as if communicating with him without the use of words. Susan watched in awe, comprehension dawning on her.


After what felt like several hours, although it had only been a few minutes, the horseless carriages came to a complete stop in front of the castle, brightly lit to welcome the students of old as well as the students of new. The six students climbed out of the box, a heavy silence spread like an invisible blanket over their heads. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Susan understood what needed to be done, and walked ahead of Randy and Cordelia, who seemed completely unaware of anyone but one another. They remained at the bottom of the stairs, talking without really speaking.








Chapter 3: An Insatiable Appetite for Darkness
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Cordelia and Randy entered the Great Hall after the feast had already begun, calling the attention of the entire room. Randy looked as if a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders, and he hugged Cordelia thankfully before joining his fellow Ravenclaws who looked completely unsurprised to see him hug the attractive and rather friendly Slytherin. She remained popular within all houses except her own, in which she had but one friend.


Cordelia, on the other hand, looked the worse for wear. It seemed as if her entire happy journey on the train had never taken place, and the eyes once filled with a fierce pride and joy swam and overflowed with the black mark of death. Silently, she took her seat next to her classmates, smiling wanly at her dear friend, Kacie. Professor Dumbledore gave her a look which clearly said, “See me in my office after dinner”, and she nodded, filling her plate with the delicious food. However, her stomach churned at the smell and she pushed it away, furrowing her brow in worry.


“You okay?” Kacie asked, staring with concern at her friend. “You look completely wretched.” Her blunt words ordinarily provoked a smile from Cordelia, but she acted as if she hadn’t even heard; which she really hadn’t. Her mind swarmed with a million thoughts and memories that did not belong entirely to her, and her heart sank with each new one that played across her view. “I take it you’re in one of your moods.” Saying nothing more, Kacie returned to eating her roast beef, knowing her friend would be completely fine in a day or two.


Dinner ended eventually, and as the last of the food and deserts disappeared from the table, leaving the dishes completely spotless, Dumbledore rose from his place at the staff table, clapping his hands needlessly. The students instantly fell silent, those that had been talking, and all awaited his traditional words.


“I do believe that was the most exquisite feast as of yet,” he declared, his silver beard sparkling with candlelight with each word he pronounced. “A few warnings for the year, and then you may go. First, for the new students, the forest on the edge of the grounds is strictly forbidden to all students, a few of you older students would do well to remember that.” His merry blue eyes fell on Cordelia for a brief second. “Also, no magic between classes in the hallways! If I have to see one more student walking around with donkey ears protruding from rather awkward positions on the body, I shall take action and turn the student responsible into an ass!” The Great Hall filled with laughter. “Please note the weekends for Hogsmeade visits, and remember any visitors are to be treated with respect. Head Boy and Head Girl, that is Ms. Granger and Mr. Malfoy: don’t forget to patrol the hallways before you turn in. Prefects, escort the first years to their rooms. That is all, you may go.” Applause broke out and faded quickly as students rushed to leave, hardly able to contain their excitement at returning to the second home.


Cordelia rose and left before anybody had time to notice, rushing immediately to Professor Dumbledore’s office to await his arrival. She didn’t need to wait long, for he came walking up moments after she did. She knew he must have used a secret passage and smiled at the thought, knowing that Dumbledore probably knew every trick in the book when it came to getting around Hogwarts. She smiled warmly at him as he approached, a smile which he returned, though his eyes held a hint of worry.


“Come, Miss McLean, we have much to discuss from the look on your face,” he said, turning to the stone gargoyle guarding his office. “Cockroach clusters,” he chimed gaily, and the statue moved aside, contorting it’s face into a slightly disgusted look that made it even uglier. Cordelia laughed, but it was hollow and held no real joy.


They rode together up the spiraling staircase and Dumbledore held open the door to his office, allowing the young lady to enter first. He indicated a squishy chair in front of his fire place, right next to his phoenix, which looked as if it were snoozing quite comfortably. He took the seat next to her, and allowed her to stare into the fire, knowing she would tell him everything all in her own good time.


The minutes ticked by slowly, and the wood in the fire popped and crackled merrily, casting warm shadows across the walls and lighting up the office’s strange contraptions, many of which moved without magic or magnets of any kind. The portraits of Headmasters and Headmistresses of the older days lined the walls, their inhabitants either sleeping, watching the two people with interest, or gone from their frames, presumably visiting other areas of the school, or perhaps visiting buildings that furnished their portraits as well. A small silver instrument, resembling the Weasely clock, sat on his desk, the various hands with the faces of students and staff pointing in different direction. Most pointed towards “sleeping”, but a few said “breaking the rules”. The teachers all pointed to “patrolling”, with the exception of Dumbledore’s, which read “office”, and Cordelia’s, which read “mental peril”. 


Finally, after an hour of full silence, the young woman opened her mouth to speak. “Monica Armando passed away, headmaster,” she murmured. “Randy felt completely desperate, his pain called to me and I could not help myself.” She burst into tears and flung her head into her hands. “I can’t control it, professor!” she sobbed loudly. “No matter how much I try I cannot stop feeling what others feel or hearing what others hear, or knowing what others know, or see or do! And what’s worse, I go to those with the deepest misery and take it into myself, leaving them to feel my joy while I take their greatest hurt and make them see light in it!” She sobbed harder. “I take their pain and it leaves me black inside, but I can’t resist! I feel drawn to their darkness, unable to avoid it even though I know it will only hurt me!”


Professor Dumbledore said not a word, staring at her fondly as she released her penned up emotions through her tears. Eventually she fell silent, and the headmaster spoke to soothe her. “You, my dear, are a gift from the Light, a bright creature created to take the misery from others to help them realize their potential.” He smiled at her. “You will never be able to resist it, for your soul is called to it, and you can no more resist taking away the darkness than a moth can resist the luring light from a candle’s flame.”


“If I am such as you say,” she demanded, looking up with a fiery anger in her eyes. “Then why did that accursed hat place me in Slytherin? They’re all evil, the lot of them. They all possess a darkness that can not be taken away, and I have no desire to save any of them, no compelling urge to rescue them from their dark abyss of choice. Why am I stuck among them when I belong with the others?”


Dumbledore smiled indulgently at her question, prepared to answer it long before she had asked. “You find yourself among Slytherins because the Sorting Hat could feel your natural urge to go to dark things. It doesn’t matter that it stems from Light, or that you desire only to cure and do good: you’re insatiable attraction to it is all the Hat could see, and therefore you are where you find yourself.”


“I don’t want to be a Slytherin, Professor,” Cordelia cried in anguish, sinking from the chair and onto the wooden floor. “I want to be…I want to be just me. Just Cordelia Anne McLean: a simple student not divided by any house or any restrictions. I can’t take another year surrounded by a darkness I cannot take away. Please, Professor, don’t send me back to the dungeons of despair.” Her eyes danced with a need Professor Dumbledore understood only too well, and he smiled in answer.


“I knew one day you would come to me with that question, and then beg release from your housemates when you discovered the answer to it.” His words filled Cordelia with a hope she almost dared not feel. “I made arrangements in your third year for you, as I expected then that you would soon be asking the question. I’m surprised you managed to hold on this long. Your things will already be there when we arrive. Follow me.”


Cordelia rose from the floor, accepting the withered old hand the headmaster offered her, and followed in his wake. He led her through the corridors of the school she knew so well, having walked them almost every single day for the last six years of her life. He took her back to the Great Hall and went to the left, towards the main entrance, but rather than going into the entrance hall, leading her down a small and almost unnoticeable corridor she had never paid much attention to before. It was lit brightly by several glowing sconces and a few hundred steps down, the corridor became stairs. They climbed and climbed until Cordelia felt certain her feet would run off and hide from her, and suddenly they stopped outside of a door.


“You may use a broomstick after this,” Dumbledore chuckled, hardly out of breath while Cordelia gasped for air. He pushed open the wooden door in front of him to reveal a sitting room furnished in warm browns, golds, and reds, a welcoming sight to her eyes. A coffee table held a tea set of polished silver and the floors were black marble, a cozy effect that forced a smile from the severely upset young girl. The headmaster led her to the right, revealing another door, which opened to reveal a large bed much like the one she had in her old dorm, but much bigger and hung with black curtains of heavy velvet instead of green and silver. The sheets were black silk, and the comforter looked like expensive velvet trimmed with satin. She saw a marble door which she new hid a bathroom, and next to it was a door which revealed a closet, her clothes already unpacked and hanging neatly.


“Thank you, professor,” she said, hugging the old man with such affection even he was caught off guard. “Thank you so much, for everything.” Her smile confirmed that her thanks rang true, and the old headmaster returned the embrace, feeling as if she were his own granddaughter rather than a simple student.


“And when you feel the need to bathe in the light of the moon,” he laughed, extending a long arm to point to his right, “There is a fine balcony with plenty of space on the other side of those glass doors.” With one last squeeze of her shoulder, Dumbledore left, and Cordelia found herself alone in her very own suite of rooms.


“This is wonderful,” she whispered, a smile playing across her beautiful rosy lips and lighting up her eyes with a joy she hardly recognized as her own. “I am no longer a Slytherin. I’m just me.” She rushed into her bedroom and sat at a desk, pulling out a piece of parchment and a quill. She wrote a note hurriedly, hoping Hermione would not already be in bed.


Dear Hermione,


I realize the hour is late, and I do apologize if I am disturbing you in any way, shape, or form. However, I write you with the greatest joy I have felt in a very long time. I am no longer a Slytherin, Hermione! Isn’t that fantastic? Professor Dumbledore explained a few things about myself, and then he presented me with my own private suite of rooms! Please send an owl to me within ten minutes of receiving this to let me know if you’ll meet me by the entrance to the Great Hall. After six years of sharing a room, I can hardly bear the thought of sleeping in my new room alone on the first night, and since you are my closest and truest friend, I’d rather you joined me for the first night celebration! I know you’ll absolutely love this room, Hermione. No green and silver anywhere to be found, and the view is simply amazing. I’ll see you soon, hopefully.


            Your impatient friend,


            Cordelia Anne McLean

 

Cordelia waved her wand over the parchment and the ink began to flash different colors, as if an iridescent light shone on the ink and made it appear like a rainbow. Smiling to herself she sealed the note with black wax and pressed her family seal into it, a habit she had never managed to break. Carefully, she wrote Hermione’s name across the top and put the rainbow spell on it as well, then handed the completed delivery to her raven, which silently took the note in its beak and flew off. Minutes later she received a reply.


Dear Cordelia,


I’m on my way right now! I’m so excited for you! I can’t wait to see your new room! I bet you could throw a few small gatherings there and no one would ever know the difference! See you in a few minutes!


            Your excited friend,


            Hermione Amelia Granger


Cordelia smiled and summoned her Firebolt, excitement coursing through her veins. She walked through the door and found herself at the top of the stairs that must number at least a thousand. Smiling in amusement, she straddled the broomstick and flew down the stairs and through the corridor at the bottom, shooting into the hallway by the Great Hall like a bullet, startling Hermione. Grinning wordlessly, Cordelia indicated that Hermione should climb up behind her. Gripping an overnight bag with one hand, Hermione clung to her trusted friend with the other, clearly frightened of the broom. Sensing her friend’s apprehension, Cordelia flew slowly, going no faster than thirty miles an hour and still reaching the room relatively quickly.


“WOW!” Hermione gasped as she entered the sitting room. “It’s like I’ve just stepped into a catalogue! This place is simply breathtaking!” She turned in circles as she walked around, trying to take in every last detail. Her reaction was even better when she saw the bedroom, and she just about died of her envy. 


Laughing, Cordelia insisted that she was always welcome to stay the night any day of the week and she didn’t even have to ask: all she had to do was show up and she could have any one of the spare bedrooms that were on the other side of the living room. Hermione smiled and went into one such guest room, finding one decked out in midnight purple that she fell in love with.


“I do hereby claim this room as mine,” Hermione declared in a deep voice, imitating some sort of modern Christopher Columbus. “And I do so name this settlement…Hermione’s Chamber of Torture, Sleep, and Educational Studies!” The two giggled at the name, and with a wave of Hermione’s wand, the words appeared in midnight purple script across the door.


“Come, Hermione, darling, let’s have a cup of tea before we turn in,” Cordelia said in a voice mimicking the way her mother spoke to her various friends. “I’m simply parched with the excitement of living like a princess for the school year, not just at home for the holidays.” She held out her arm, which Hermione took quickly and together they strolled back to the sitting room, heads held high and shoulders back and straight, as if approaching a throne for their coronation.


They sat regally on the plush couch of rich scarlet satin, a soft cloud of burgundy that held them in a spell of wealth. The two ladies enjoyed their tea, laughing at things they said, or thought, and enjoying the pleasure of each other’s company free of worry for disturbing another, or getting in trouble for being about after hours. Of course, they were seventh years and curfew for them was midnight during the week, but it was the principle of the matter, and besides, it was already well after two in the morning.


Finally, the clock on the mantel chimed three and Hermione’s jaw dropped in shock. “Oh my!” she exclaimed, setting her silver tea cup loudly on its saucer on the table. “It’s so late! We have to get up in five short hours! I think it’s best we turn in for the night, Cordelia, or we’ll be falling asleep in our pumpkin juice tomorrow morning!” Cordelia nodded agreement and the two went their separate ways, waving goodbye at their respective doors.


Hermione changed into a white t-shirt that had belonged to an older brother, one that she never mentioned, who had gone off to war and been killed under suspicious circumstances: his body was unmarked, and Hermione wore the shirt in his honor, swearing she would one day help bring about the downfall of his murderer, the Dark Lord Voldemort. Sighing with delight, she climbed into her midnight purple bed covered in silks, satins, damasks, and velvets, the feather pillow feeling like a cloud of the softest fluff.


Across the tower, in Cordelia’s bedroom, she dressed in a knee length gown of white silk and climbed into bed for sleep. But the sand man seemed far away from her tonight, and thoughts and feelings ran through her mind, swirling in circles so fast that she felt dizzy and nauseated, unable to lie still. After what felt like hours, but what a clock revealed to be only a few minutes, she flung back the covers of her bed and grabbed a silk robe, tying it around her slim waist. Carefully, she pulled open the door to her bedroom and walked to the right, slowly opening the glass French doors and letting herself out onto the balcony.


The entire castle was lit up like some sort of medieval painting, owls flying over the sky and by the bright moon, the stars remaining stagnant while dark clouds swirled around, blocking them and freeing them over and over again so that they blinked in and out of existence. A soft summer wind blew through the air, rustling the trees of the forest and blowing up to Cordelia’s balcony, swirling her robe and hair around her in a whirlwind of gold and white, leaves circling her head like a fairy crown. She laughed softly at the sensation, throwing back her head as she breathed in the intoxicating smell of the night air, heavy with the smell of cinnamon. Cordelia always thought old leaves smelled of cinnamon, a sort of spicy and hypnotizing aroma that brought the fondest of memories. Nobody else she ever asked agreed: dirt is what others smelled, not a delicious cinnamon scent.


She placed her hands on the stone railing of the balcony, leaning as far over as she could so that she felt like a bird, flying on the wind without a care in the world. Or, that’s how she meant to feel, instead she felt as if she were falling, rushing head first into a great pit of despair that felt completely alien to her. Fear invaded her body, a virus spreading quickly to her heart and forcing its pace to quicken. Images assailed her mind, flashing like bits of lightening, memories belonging to someone else. Instantly, Cordelia understood she watched someone’s nightmare, a nightmare which caused the worst of memories. A flash of green light blinded her vision, and suddenly the feelings were gone, but a searing pain remained in her forehead. She touched the spot that felt hot, almost expecting a scar to appear, as if a red hot poker had been pressed for hours to her skin.


“Harry,” she breathed, a realization striking. “Harry needs someone to talk to.” She turned and rushed back inside, not bothering to close the doors to the balcony. Instead she leapt onto her Firebolt and fled the tower, not knowing where she was going, but trusting her instinct to lead her to where she needed to be. Seconds later she found herself standing in the middle of the Great Hall, a lone figure sitting at the Gryffindor table, his hands massaging his head as if he possessed and suffered a perpetual headache.


“Hello, Harry,” she called softly from across the room. He jumped at the sudden noise, jerking around in his seat to see who snuck up on him so very quietly. His emerald eyes grew round as he saw Cordelia in her white silk nightgown, her dark robe hanging off her shoulder and her hair windblown, a broomstick clutched in one hand. “Bad dreams?” she asked, walking over and taking a seat next to him, already knowing the answer.


“Yeah,” he muttered ruffling his hair. “I don’t need to ask how you know. I’m sorry for waking you up.”


She smiled warmly, putting a hand on his. He flinched, her hands frozen from the cold wind that had blown around her like a gentle hand caressing her skin. “Sorry,” she laughed, her voice a gentle summer breeze. “I’ve been outside. You didn’t wake me, Harry; I was outside listening to the wind.” Her voice possessed a dream-like quality, making her seem like some sort of ethereal fairy princess who had happened upon him in the night.


“Then I’m sorry for disturbing your thoughts,” he replied, taking both her hands in his. “You should wear gloves when you go out in the middle of the night, especially if you insist on being half dressed.” She blushed prettily, but the darkness made it almost impossible to tell. A thought occurred to Harry. “How did you get out of the Slytherin common room without being caught?” he asked, insanely curious. “Professor Snape sleeps right next to the door, and it makes an awful grating noise whenever someone goes in or out!”


“I’m not going to ask how you know that,” Cordelia told him, smiling wider. “But I only told Hermione: I’m no longer a Slytherin. I’ve been given my own suite of rooms in a tower not far from here, where I can come and go as I please to help, and where others in need may come to me and stay for as long as they need, until they come to terms with whatever they suffer.” Her eyes sparkled with the thought of being able to help others, a fact which warmed Harry’s heart.


“So I guess I’m the one you’re coming to now, then. It’s a switch from our second year.”


“Yes.” She answered with that one word, but it said so much. She knew that he would tell her in his own time, in his own way, and would not press him. The word signified an understanding on her part: she knew his pain, already understood it, but would not say so because it would force him before he was ready.


The two sat in a comfortable silence, staring up at the enchanted ceiling that was charmed to look like the night sky. Cordelia closed her eyes as a cloud moved and the light of the full moon emerged, showering her in a silver glow that only made her look more angelic to Harry. “It doesn’t feel the same,” she murmured suddenly, almost startling Harry.


“What doesn’t feel the same?” he asked in confusion.

“The moonlight,” she replied faintly, the silver orb reflected in her deep blue eyes as she stared intently at him. “The enchanted ceiling only mirrors the sky, but it cannot produce the same effects. The moonlight shines down on me, yes, but it cannot be felt in the same way. It’s more like turning on a light switch instead of standing in the sunshine.” Her smile faded slowly as she turned her swirling eyes back to the ceiling, staring with the same intensity as before.


“You’re very different, Cordelia,” Harry declared quietly, looking at her and possibly seeing her for the first time. “You don’t live your life through facts and figures, like Hermione, but you study hard anyway. You lead your life with your heart, following where it may lead you. Nature’s wonders capture your attention because they are truth, but rarely present logic, much like human feelings are.”


She turned to look at him with that same disarming smile that caught on like wildfire. “You understand me, Harry,” she exclaimed, “But I have yet to know you.” Her meaning was not lost upon him. “Would you like to go outside with me?” she requested suddenly, her eyes pleading and growing so round he thought his heart might break if he refused.


“That sounds like a party,” he laughed softly, standing and offering his hand to help her to her feet.


“Hop on then,” she said, swinging her leg over the Firebolt. Without hesitation he climbed on after her, wrapping his arms securely around her waist. They rose slowly and zoomed at slightly less than breakneck speed through the air and through the corridor that lead to her room. Up the winding stairs they sped, making no noise as they whizzed between the stone walls and came to a sudden halt outside of the heavy wooden doors. “Welcome to my suite. Be quiet, though, Hermione’s asleep in her room.” She flung open the door before Harry questioned her about that last statement.

Carefully he tip-toed in Cordelia’s wake while she walked noiselessly across the marble, her feet bare and happy. She slipped through the open French doors of glass and pulled it to behind him, making sure not to make a sound. A gust of wind roared across the balcony, trapping the two teenagers in a miniature whirlwind of leaves that floated lazily around them. Cordelia smiled and turned with the wind, closing her eyes to inhale the cinnamon scent she was so fond of.


“Do you smell that, Harry?” she asked, not opening her eyes as she danced like a fairy tale nymph in the leaves and gentle breeze. He inhaled deeply as a few leaves danced by his face.


“They smell like spices,” he murmured, closing his eyes. “Pumpkin spice, maybe, or nutmeg…” His voice drifted off as he searched for the name of the familiar aroma. “It smells like cinnamon,” he finished, turning to look at the blonde girl frolicking barefoot in the September air. “I’ve never noticed before. And you smell like cake and flowers.”


Cordelia giggled, holding out her hands for Harry to take. “I smell like vanilla and night blooming jasmine,” she corrected, pulling him to turn with the gentle winds as well, winding through nature as if casting a spell with her movements. “I rub their oils into my skin at night, and place their dried petals and leaves between my clothes. I add their extracts to my shampoos and body washes. I don’t need perfumes: nature helps me along the way.” She pulled close to him and stopped, pressing her face to his sweater. “You smell like the ocean, salty and clean and fresh and exciting and calm all at once.”


“How can I smell calm and exciting?” Harry wondered out loud, looking in askance at Cordelia. “Those are states of the mind, not scents.”


She only smiled at him in her mysterious way, her eyes swirling with a strange assortment of blues and turquoises, a mesmerizing quality that pulled him in and held him captive, rendering him completely helpless. Cordelia searched his soul, looking deeply into his brilliantly spicy green eyes, trying not to get caught in the spell his own bright orbs wove through a tale of tragic sadness. She found courage beyond comprehension, a fierce determination to protect those he loved from harm of any kind, be it emotional or physical. She felt her heart swell with his love for his friends and adopted family, the Weaselys, and felt his great love for the closest father figure he had ever known: the criminal Sirius Black. Cordelia found his respect and reserved love for Albus Dumbledore, always like a loving uncle guiding Harry through his roughest memories at Hogwarts. She understood his pain, felt his anguish, experienced his anger, suffered his grief, and realized his ability to control himself.


Cordelia searched deeper and visions assailed her mind, telling her of a cloudy future. Death appeared everywhere she turned, in each possible outcome: the death of a loved one, the death of an enemy, the death of an old rival, the death of innocent people…the death of Harry. Each a possible outcome, neither set in stone as they were covered by the tendrils of fog as quickly as they had been shown. Harry was marked for death, it followed him like a plague, touching all who came to love him, but still the very essence of hope clung about him, an unshakeable force that would remain with his name even if his death came to pass.


“You possess a dark core,” she told him, pulling his hand to her heart. “Your anger blackens your heart, and your courage and determination blind you when it comes to those you love. But even with the darkest part of your soul, you remain bathed in a light of hope, so intense it hurt even my fair eyes to see.” She smiled sadly at him, touching his face carefully with her hand, the fingertips brushing lightly against his long hair. Harry was aware of the feeling of her skin beneath his hand, which she had placed dreamily to her heart, and her light touch on his hair sent shivers through his body, but he still listened to her voice, entranced.

 “So much tragedy befell you,” she continued. “And follows you even now, yet you remain unbroken by the pain: you know true misery, but find peace in true love. The love of friends and family, and the love of helping others. Though you posses a core of darkness, it stems from love, and gives you the strength you will need to conquer your enemies.” She pulled her hand back suddenly and dropped his, as if not having meant to touch him at all.


“I’m sorry,” she muttered as she pulled from away him and walked to the opposite side of the balcony. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”


“I’m not…” Harry began, following her.


“Don’t bother,” she laughed sadly, irony heavy in her voice. “I can feel everything you’re feeling right now. I’ve upset you, and my purpose is to make you feel better. I can’t help you if I’m being counterproductive.” She laughed again, a mechanical sound, like a machine.


“You’re not some sort of tool, you know,” Harry called softly. “I’m not here to use you. You’re my friend, and I’d rather just enjoy your company. That’s what makes me feel better; being with people I love and care about.” He turned to look at the moon. “I don’t need my future read for me: I’d rather not know the possibilities. I’ll wait to see what comes my way, but I refuse to dwell on possible misery that may never come to pass.”

Cordelia wandered back to him, wrapping her arms securely around his shoulders. “You’re very kind to me, Harry,” she whispered, putting her head on his shoulder and pulling close. “Do you remember the day we first?” She felt him nod silently. “It feels so very long ago…but I remember it so clearly…”


***

Harry Potter found his way into the library in the dead of night, hidden beneath an invisibility cloak with a lantern held in his hand to light the way. At twelve years old he was still rather small for his age, with spiky black hair that stood at awkward angles, forever refusing to lie flat, and spicy green eyes that looked eternally troubled. He crept on tip toes, though he was barefoot, trying desperately to avoid being heard.  He didn’t know why he wondered into the library this night: just two nights ago he had almost been caught trying to get into the restricted section of the library. Filch would be on the lookout for trouble for the next week. But despite his better sense, he felt compelled to go there, to be among the books. It was almost as if he was supposed to meet someone there, though he had not made any such plans.


The faint sound of crying drifted through the darkness, melting as the sobs found their way into his ears. Intrigued and slightly worried, he followed the sounds coming from behind a large shelf, where a young girl who looked about his age sat at a table surrounded by a large mountain of books, one open in front of her hands, though Harry could tell she couldn’t see a word written in the pages through her torrent of tears. She had thick golden hair, smooth as silk, pulled back into a messy bun, but her back was to him, so he couldn’t see her face. She looked small and frightened compared to all of the massive shelves with their impressive tomes and volumes of knowledge.


“Why are you watching me?” the girl spoke suddenly, not turning around to look at him, but somehow knowing he was there.


“Why am I watching you?” Harry repeated stupidly. “You’re crying in the library in the dead of night. What else am I supposed to look at?” His argument sounded logical to him.


“You could look at the books, you know,” she muttered, hardly understandable through her sobs. “That’s what most people do in a library. They read.” 

“You’re not reading either,” he replied pointedly. “How did you know I was even here? I’m wearing an invisibility cloak.”


She laughed softly, a gentle sound that danced through the air and frolicked between the shelves, echoing enchantingly throughout the large room. “I felt you,” she said simply, turning to look directly into his eyes. He felt trapped. “I can’t see you, Harry Potter, but I know you’re there.” She walked over to him and pulled the cloak from his head gently, grinning at her correct assumption. For the first time he really saw her face, her young beauty, hidden beneath pre-adolescence, but a potential as great as any Harry had ever seen.


“That’s really very good,” he told her, eyes wide with delighted surprise. “What can you feel? My body heat or something?”


“What do I look like, superman?” she quipped. “I’m not a superhuman. I’m clairvoyant, but in a special way. I can feel your emotions and tie them in with your past, present, and future.” She didn’t say it arrogantly or with any form of pride: she said it like she read it from a textbook or a doctor’s report, all fact and no embellishment.


“Wow, I think I might have preferred superman,” he confessed, looking her in the eye. “At least he wouldn’t be able to tell me when and how I’m going to die.”


“I’m not going to tell you anything,” she declared with conviction. “The future is unstable and always changing, a cloudy thing that no one understands with certainty. I see many things from the future, and only a third come to pass. The others are mere possible outcomes: they are neither fact nor fiction. They just are.”


“Okay, so how did you even know who I was?” he questioned again. “I’ve never even seen you before, and I know I’ve never spoken to you. How did you know it was me if you didn’t see me?”


“Because I called you here,” she said simply.


“Called me?”


“You felt the desire to come here, and it wouldn’t let you be,” she explained. “You don’t know why you wanted to come, but you felt the need. It would have eventually driven you insane, had you continued to ignore it. Or that’s my theory; anyway, it’s never actually been resisted.”


“Then why…”


“Did I call you here?” she finished, grinning. “Because you haunt my dreams. Not you in person, but your nightmares invade my own, and they frighten me. Not because I fear the Dark Lord, I fear nothing, but because your fear envelopes me. I want to help you, but you wouldn’t come to me. I could have shouted from the rooftops for you to come, but even the most brave Gryffindor would not enter my sleeping quarters, in the dead of night or broad daylight.”


“I might have,” he argued, feeling insulted. “I’m not afraid to wander the castle at night.”


“Even some professors refuse to walk to the dungeons alone at night, Harry,” she whispered, pulling close to him. She watched with interest as he worked out her statement in his mind. “Your eyes grow wide with surprise and even fear now, knowing me for what I am. You liked me seconds before, but your contempt of my House leads you to feel contempt for me. Why does my house make me different? I’m still the same person I was moments ago.”


“You’re a Slytherin,” Harry breathed, pulling away from her touch. “They’re all evil, the whole lot of them. They should have been drowned at birth.”


Tears fell unchecked from Cordelia’s cheeks. “I’m not evil, Harry,” she proclaimed in fury. “Even Professor Dumbledore sees that. He offered to place me in another house, any house of my choice. I said no. Do you know why?”


“Because you prefer to be with others as cold-hearted as yourself?” Harry asserted, trying to hurt her feelings.


“No,” she replied serenely, looking up with a fierce pride Harry recognized as similar to his own. “I chose to stay because I feel the sorting process breeds bad blood. I’d rather fight the rest of the school and prove my worth, when all are set against me, than be trusted simply because I wear blue or yellow or scarlet.”


Harry looked as if he was about to reply, but Cordelia threw up a hand. “Filch is coming, Harry. Put on your cloak and go back to your room before you get yourself into trouble.”


“What about you?” he asked, not caring if she was Slytherin or from Mars. “You’ll catch it for sure!”


“He won’t catch me unless I want to be caught,” she told him confidently, moving backwards, away from the door. Harry heard footsteps outside of the library door, and threw his cloak over his shoulders.


“Don’t be stupid!” Harry nearly shouted, realizing that he had never asked the young girl for her name. “Nobody escapes Filch and Mrs. Norris easily!” He rushed over to her and threw his cloak around her shoulders and forced her under a table. She suppressed the urge to laugh, but made no movement to escape. They watched in silence as Filch walked by, Mrs. Norris right behind him. She looked directly at the two of them, as if she could see them. Harry found himself wondering yet again if invisibility cloaks worked on cats.


“Come, my pet,” Filch said fondly to the animal. “There is no one here.” They turned and left. They waited ten minutes after their footfalls had vanished before re-emerging from underneath the table.


“That was close,” Harry exclaimed, adrenaline pumping through his body.


“Yes, it was,” she agreed. She smiled at him. “You tried to save me, even though I didn’t need it, despite my being a Slytherin. Don’t you want to be my friend, Harry? I think I’ve proven I’m not mean. I told you danger was near, as a friend would do. Won’t you look past the green and silver, and see the gold underneath?”


Harry hesitated, then took her hand, shaking it. “Hi, I’m Harry Potter. It’s nice to meet you. What’s your name?” He smiled.


“My name is Cordelia Anne McLean, Harry Potter, and it’s an honor to meet you.” She shook his hand firmly, an act which surprised him. “I think it’s best we get back to bed, Harry,” she spoke softly, her breath tickling his neck. “Can we eat breakfast together tomorrow morning? I’d like to meet Hermione Granger, if it’s all the same to you. She needs a friend who understands her pain.” Harry didn’t ask, only nodded his head and gave her a quick hug, an act which he would think of later. Then they turned and walked out, going their separate ways at the stairs.


Despite her assurance that she would not be seen, Harry watched her leave from the top of the stairs. She backed into a wall and seemed to become a simple part of the shadow, slipping about like a tendril of darkness that moved because of the imagination. “A most powerful witch indeed,” he thought before turning to walk away.

***

“You know, you never told me why you were crying,” Harry said suddenly, pulling away to look into her eyes.


“I should have thought it was obvious,” Cordelia replied, placing her head against his chest once more. “I cried for you.”


Harry was confused. “Why?”


“Because you would fall in love with me,” she told him, pulling away from him, leaving only their hands linked. “I tried to prevent it by meeting you, by telling you I could see you. I meant to make you fear me, but instead I sparked the very event I tried to prevent.” She started crying, wiping away the diamond tears that leaked from her sapphire eyes. “I know you fell in love with me that night, Harry; I know you love me even as we speak. And by loving me, you may doom the life of another.”


“Who’s life do I destroy?” Harry asked, curious and afraid at the same time.

“Draco Malfoy.” She searched Harry’s face for a reaction, but she got none. “You don’t care?”


“He’s evil,” was the blunt reply.


“Because he’s a Slytherin.” It wasn’t a question.


“Because he is. You can look into his eyes and see it.”


“NO!” Cordelia cried out, pushing Harry away from her. “You’re blinded by your human naivety!” Her eyes blazed with a fury he couldn’t fathom. “He’s not evil yet, he only appears evil because he mimics the only role model he has: Death Eaters. We can save him, Harry, he can save us! He could help all of us in such ways you could never imagine, if only you believe in him.”


“How do you know Malfoy so well?” Harry asked, anger creeping into his voice.


“I was in Slytherin house for six years, Harry,” she reminded him calmly, sensing jealousy rising in his heart. “I observed him, and I looked into his soul on the train just after we left the station today.” Her last statement did not go over well.

“And did you hold him the same way you held me?” Harry demanded, his voice rising despite knowing Hermione slept just inside. “Did you get close, tease him a little, before looking into his eyes and reading his soul? Did you?”


“Harry, you’re being a ridiculously jealous fool,” Cordelia warned; her voice hardening as it lost its serene, dream-like quality. “You’re frightening me.”


“Am I?” he asked, pulling her forcefully to him.


“Yes,” she whimpered, feeling his darkness grow stronger. He kissed her then, pressing his lips to hers with a need both of them felt, though neither had ever known before. Cordelia let her lips linger with his for a few moments, then pulled away slowly. “I should warn you, Harry, that I have an insatiable appetite for darkness. I’m drawn to it, needing to cure it. Don’t kiss me like that again.” She kissed his cheek. “Goodnight, Harry. You may use my broomstick; I’ll get it from you in the morning.” She turned and walked inside. “By the way, Harry, don’t love me. I’ll only break your heart by falling in love with another. Even if I don’t marry him, I will not go to you. You’re heart belongs with another, as does mine.” With a swish of silk, she was gone.


Chapter 4: The First Step
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Cordelia awoke at the crack of dawn, the fading of the moon pulling her from her peaceful slumber as the first rays of the sun changed the sky. Smiling, she realized this was the first time she felt the sun wake her since she had come to Hogwarts six years ago. The dungeons, after all, had no windows, and therefore there did not exist a moonlight night or sunshine morning. The Slytherin House operated in a darkness matched only by the students that became Slytherins. 

She stretched and felt the silk sheets rub against her legs, a feeling she relished with an intense delight she found in all things fine. She sat up and slipped from the bed, pulling a blue silk robe over her night gown and crossing to her bathroom. Relieving herself and washing her hands was a ritual she typically had to do with several other girls present, and the ability to do it alone amused her. She left her bathroom and crossed her bedroom once again, flinging open the door leading to her living room. She rushed across the black marble floors in her silken house slippers and attempted to skid to a halt a few feet away from Hermione’s door. She neglected to stop soon enough and kept sliding, crashing with a deafening noise into the door marked “Hermione’s Chamber of Slumber, Torture, and Educational Studies”. 

Hermione heard the tremendous crash and the shriek of pain that escaped Cordelia’s lips, but rolled over, believing she had imagined the noise. Carefully, Cordelia pushed the door open and stepped inside. She stood by the bed and looked at her friend sleeping so peacefully, an old t-shirt belonging to her brother covering her slim frame. She smiled at the sight, happy to know it was she who had helped her friend come to terms with her brother’s terrible murder. Suddenly she pounced on the bed. “WAKE UP, HERMIONE! IT’S TIME FOR COFFEE!” she yelled, bouncing up and down.

A pillow flew at her head, missing by inches but hooking like a boomerang. It came back and hit her squarely in the back of the head, knocking her forward so that she lay face down next to Hermione.

“Dirty pool, old friend,” Cordelia chastised, picking up a pillow and smacking Hermione with it. “Wake up now, or I’ll pour cold water on you!”

“No! I don’t want to wake up!” Hermione groaned, rolling over to face her friend. “Has anybody ever told you that you’re much too peppy in the mornings? I swear you need your head examined.”

Cordelia giggled, answering with sing-song joy. “I’ve been told that several times by the very Slytherins I’ve managed to escape from. My joy this morning springs from the hope of never seeing the dank dungeons again!”

“I do hate to put a stopper on your bubbling bliss,” Hermione stated, sitting up and rubbing her tired eyes. “But you still have potions.”

Cordelia’s smile faltered for a split second, but became brighter almost instantly. “I may have to face the dungeons for potions every week, but Professor Severus loves me.” She grinned at Hermione’s disgusted face. “That definitely makes it a bit better to bear, don’t you think?”

“I’m not going to dignify that absurdity with a response,” Hermione sniffed, throwing back the covers.

“Well, then, I suppose we’ll just skip straight to morning tea before we start to get ready.” Pulling Hermione from her warm bed, Cordelia waltzed into the main sitting room and indicated a fine coffee set out, various scones and Danishes adding decoration to the already beautiful spread.

Hermione gasped in delighted surprise, sharing a look of thanks with her friend. The assumption that Cordelia had been forgiven for waking her up at such a ghastly hour went unspoken between the two as they helped themselves and sat down side by side to devour the meal.

Silence passed for quite some time, but eventually conversation needed to be begun. Hermione saw no point in beating around the bush, always being blunt and completely honest, and being so she turned to her friend, intelligent curiosity gleaming in her pretty brown eyes. “So, why was Harry here last night?” she asked suddenly, startling her companion.

“I’m so sorry we woke you,” Cordelia exclaimed, clapping a white hand to her pretty mouth. “I meant for us to be quiet coming through!“.

I think it was the arguing that woke me up, actually,” the brunette informed her, smiling with uncertainty. “Were you two fighting?” The question was pointless: Hermione obviously knew they had been, but was too polite to directly ask about a fight she had no involvement in.

“Yes, we were,” Cordelia replied. “He’s being foolish, and I can’t do a thing about it.”


“Harry was always foolish,” Hermione replied, giving a choked, awkward sort of laugh. “I’m sure you can talk him out of whatever it is, though. He’s absolutely mad about you: he has been since second year.”

“That’s how he’s being foolish, Hermione,” Cordelia whispered. “I will never love Harry the way he wants me to. I will give my heart to another, a man who will become one of his closest friends, and Harry will suffer in agony for it until he realizes there is another that he loves.”

“You…you fall in love with Ron?” her friend asked in complete fascination. “That’s…rather shocking, I must say. I thought I—” She was cut off by the blonde’s random laughter. “What do you find so funny?”

“You didn’t listen, Hermione. I said he would become one of his closest friends. Ron already is his closest friend.”

Hermione frowned. “Oh. Then who are you talking about?”

“Draco Malfoy.”

***

The girls descended the steps from Cordelia’s room slowly, strolling in a silence that, although not awkward, seemed relatively uncomfortable. Thoughts buzzed from one girl to the next and feelings mingled with one another, Cordelia intercepting everything from Hermione. She felt her heart sink with each step knowing Hermione felt differently towards her now that she knew. Cordelia sighed inwardly: it wasn’t her fault she couldn’t love Harry in return, and she certainly couldn’t keep herself from loving Draco Malfoy. He possessed a dangerous, almost deadly beauty that called for her, and his dark aura with the fading lights reached to her, even in her dreams. Although she had denied it moments before, she knew she had already fallen for the Prince of Darkness.

The two friends entered the Great Hall, together but in separate worlds, then stopped suddenly. They realized simultaneously that Cordelia no longer belonged to any house, and that seating might now be a problem. Cordelia shifted nervously from one foot to the other; unsure of which course of action she should take. An owl flew over her head while she contemplated, dropping a letter neatly at her feet. She bent to pick it up and recognized the hurried scrawl of the Headmaster. She smiled and read his words to herself…“Miss McLean, the choice has always been yours…”

“I think I need to sit with Ravenclaw today,” she notified Hermione, feeling the pull of emotions that leaked obviously from Randy Armando. “He needs me again.” Hermione nodded with understanding, offering a wavering smile before taking her place between Harry and Ron at the Gryffindor table. Cordelia smiled warmly, preparing herself for the wave of emotions she was about to take into herself, then walked proudly to the table draped in blue and silver. “Hello again, Randy,” she grinned, taking a seat next to him.

“Oh, ‘ello,” he answered sullenly, staring into his porridge as it were the most complicated problem in the universe.

“Bright day today,” Cordelia continued, pretending to take no notice of his depression. “Hope the weather holds out until after quidditch tryouts: I’d hate to see someone catch a cold.”

Randy gave a generic response, moving food around on his plate, but eating none of it. Cordelia frowned inside, but kept up her cheery front. Obviously she had missed something last night: usually after one session with her people were bounding around like right little rays of sunshine: Randy seemed to be almost as bad off as the night before.

“Randy, did something happen after I saw you last night?” Cordelia questioned gently, placing a comforting hand on his arm. “Something terrible?” He nodded, but didn’t speak. “Would you like to talk about it?” Another nod answered. “Let’s go outside. I’m not hungry, and you’re not even trying to pick at your food.”

The two went outside, the air smelling crisp and clean without the smog from London to clog their lungs and nostrils. Cordelia danced in the air, still oddly barefoot, though school uniform demanded shoes be worn, enjoying the whisper of wind and the cool dew that had collected on the grass.

“My parents sent me a picture,” Randy said suddenly, holding up an old photograph of a newborn baby. “She…she looks sick. You can just look at her and tell.” His eyes filled up with tears and he sat on the wet grass dejectedly.

Cordelia took the picture into her hands and stared at the young baby girl, looking for the symptoms of death. They sat there so clearly, seeping from her large doe eyes, begging for help. “Randy is very perceptive and he’s possibly a clairvoyant though clearly not a very powerful one.”  She could tell he would know immediately if she lied, so she searched the picture carefully, looking for the silver lining on the dark cloud.

“You’re wrong, you know,” she told him, smiling as she found exactly what she needed. She pointed to Monica’s smile, kneeling next to the young man. “Do you see that?” she whispered, allowing his fingers to trace the folds of skin around her tiny lips. “That’s a real smile, Randy. She was happy despite her sickness.”

Randy studied the smile, rolling Cordelia’s words through the fingers of his mind over and over again, feeling every crevice and crack. He considered carefully, and slowly a smile crept over his young but handsome face, the worry lines fading into the bitter memories of the past. “She was happy,” he whispered, a single tear falling down his face.

“Join reality again, Randy,” Cordelia ordered, lifting him from the soft green carpet of nature. “Live you life for you sister, remember her, and do what you think is right.” She stared into his eyes, telling him without telling him. “With your love many children can be saved, and maybe your own children won’t suffer the same disease.” Realization dawned on Randy, and he grinned with a new fervor.

“I’ve got to talk to Professor Snape,” Randy muttered, hugging Cordelia and rushing back into the castle. “THANK YOU!” he shouted from the doors before rushing back inside.

“You’re welcome,” Cordelia whispered, tears forming in her own eyes. “But I have done nothing.” She turned to stare at the lake, brilliantly blue in the early hours of morning, despite the slight chill in the air. Cordelia smiled through her tears, though her heart felt broken into a thousand pieces by the love felt for Monica from Randy, and she walked towards the water. Her flowing white skirt whipped around her in the wind, and her light cloak of fine silk drifted around her, like a fog.

The edge of the lake came sooner than expected, stopping Cordelia suddenly at its edge. She sighed and dropped to the sandy shore, placing one bare foot in the cool water. She watched silently as the ripples grew larger and larger, stretching across the lake and marring its perfect glassy appearance.

She felt the approach of another before he had even made a sound, his emotions reaching her long before he had even stepped outside of the castle. “You needed me, Draco?” she asked, her voice barely above the breath of wind that caressed her honey colored hair.

“How did you know it was me?” he asked, surprised but delighted at the same time. “You haven’t even turned around.”

Cordelia turned her head slightly so that her swirling eyes met with Draco’s own icy orbs, offering a mysterious smile that forced his heart to skip a beat. “Your heart travels faster than you do,” she laughed, turning back to the beautiful view. “I know every black crevice and every white swirl of your soul. You are easily recognized.” She felt him take a seat next to her and heard his indecision as he debated touching her hair. Cordelia smiled inside.

Draco scrutinized her from the corner of his icy blue eyes, approving of the fine white skirt with the dark blouse and cloak. They suited her. “You’re out of dress code, you know,” Draco commented, indicated her wardrobe. “You aren’t even wearing shoes. Aren’t you going to get in trouble for this?”

Cordelia laughed. “I dress this way so that all who need me know who I am if I’m in a crowd. Professor Dumbledore allows this because I am of great need to so many here at Hogwarts, even the professors…” Her voice faded to nothing, melting in the air as it circled the two blondes. “I’ve always broken the dress code, why say something now?”

Draco shrugged in response, then turned to stare at the blue lake. “Somebody told me that you help those with emotional strife,” Draco said after a long silence. “And he also said they’re automatically drawn to you. Is that true?”

“Yes.”

“Is that how I ended up in your compartment on the train?” His voice sounded so morose that Cordelia’s head shot around, scrutinizing his face.

“Yes, but you weren’t ready to talk then, so I didn’t help you,” she answered. “The urge to go to me doesn’t signify that you’re emotionally equipped for the confrontation. I knew you had more to endure in your mind before you would accede to help, so I befriended you instead.”

Draco remained silent as he contemplated her statement.  “I’ve sought you out again, it seems,” he declared. “I think I’m ready.”

“You’re not,” she insisted, facing him completely. “You don’t realize what you’ll be forced to reveal when you start. Things you didn’t even realize you felt will flow out, and you may not want me to hear them.” She smiled sadly. “You may hate me for what I am someday, after telling me what you feel.”

“There is nothing I fear revealing: and I know everything that goes on in my head, I will reveal nothing I do not know.” His arrogance made her smile.

“It’s not that simple, Draco Malfoy,” she whispered, taking his hand in hers. “There is so much you have yet to discover about yourself. If you confide just a little bit in me, you will discover everything at once, and it could do more harm than good. You may know everything in your head, but matters of your heart are still unknown to you.”

“There is nothing I fear,” Draco reiterated, eyes flashing with a dangerous pride Cordelia knew only too well.

She sighed in resignation, lying on her back so that her hair fanned out over the white sand. “Then tell me what you must, Draco, but don’t hate me for things I may hear. I did warn you.”

His eyes lit up for a moment in relief, then darkened as he began his story. “My father insists that I join the Death Eaters and the Dark Lord when I return to my house this summer,” he said, using his finger to draw a pattern in the sand. “It has always been my future to join the Dark Lord, a fact which I neither accepted nor rejected, seeing no point in worrying until the time came.” His eyes darkened with anger. “Well, the time is almost upon me, and I must make my decision.”

“The decision is entirely your own, Draco, no matter what your father makes you believe,” Cordelia told him, pulling him down so that he lay with his back burrowed in the warm sand as well.

“The decision will never be mine,” he argued, closing his eyes. “They will force me, or they will kill me.  I know too much. Should they force me, I will follow the orders of another for as long as I live, never free to do as I will. Never free to love…” His eyes grew wide with that last word.

“Draco, please stop there,” Cordelia pleaded, sitting up suddenly and shaking sand from her hair. “You needn’t go on. You aren’t ready.”

Draco ignored her words, studying her face and then reflecting his thoughts of her for the last six years. Slowly it dawned on him, explaining why he had never taken a girlfriend, preferring instead to use a different girl every night, but always leaving one alone. He had always seen her in the common room, incredibly appealing. She had a pride that matched his own, but in a quieter manner, and an air of fineness that complemented his own completely. He had left her alone because…

Cordelia watched the thoughts work in his eyes, saw memories flashing and a slow comprehension forming. “Please, Draco, you don’t realize what you’re doing,” she cried out, but he didn’t hear her.

“I love you,” he whispered hoarsely, knowing the words were true as he spoke them. “I’ve always loved you. That’s why I never seduced you, never treated you like the other girls…I’ve loved you since the day we met, and I never even realized it.”

“You’re destroying your life, Draco,” she told him, throwing herself to the ground in a fit of melancholy. “You’re helping him destroy your life, and things may go very wrong from this.”

“From what?” he asked gently, pulling her from the ground and cradling her in his arms, a motion so natural he did not even think to ask himself what he was doing.

“From this…” she cried, tears falling unchecked down her face. “From the fact that I’ve loved you since I first spoke to you, despite knowing how much could go wrong if it ever came to pass that you loved me as well…” Her words were stopped as Draco’s lips brushed lightly against hers, shocking her into silence.

“You can’t do this, Draco,” she whispered weakly, pulling away slightly. “You don’t know what you’re doing, what possibilities you’ve just created.”

“You love me,” Draco said, pulling her to his chest. “I love you. This was meant to be.” He kissed her again, sweetly, an act which both surprised and aroused her. She could still feel his darkness, the reason for his coming to her, drifting through his veins, but the light became stronger suddenly, pushing the darkness far away.

“You can be saved, Draco, there’s hope for you yet.”

“As long as I have you, I’ll believe that,” Draco murmured in her ear.



***

Cordelia wandered into Advanced Potions gracefully, her eyes swirling with a dreamy intensity Harry knew all too well. He smiled awkwardly at her, and she smiled back, though the gesture seemed forced on her behalf as well. They still felt uneasy about the argument the night before, and the revelations forced upon a boy so terribly in love he couldn’t understand the problems in his fervor. 

“Well, well, Ms. McLean,” Professor Snape said, approaching her with an air of decided power. “You’re running rather late today.”

“Sorry, professor,” she chimed sweetly, smiling infectiously at the sinister figure looming over her. “Draco Malfoy needed a shoulder, sir, and you know I can’t resist helping others, especially the darkest of souls.” Professor Snape looked at her knowingly, a slight twinkle taking place in his eyes that no student had ever seen before.

“It’s quite all right, Ms. McLean,” he said warmly, causing the jaws of several Gryffindors to drop in shock. “Take your place, and borrow Ms. Granger’s notes that you’ve missed so far.” Without another word he turned and faced the class again.

Cordelia floated to her seat next to Hermione, smiling in her ethereally serene manner, eyes still swimming with tantalizing hues of blue and turquoise.   Hermione sent her a questioning glance, which she answered with a slight nod. I’ll tell you later, she whispered in Hermione’s mind, a talent she had never liked using. Hermione shuddered, feeling as if worms had been squirming through her brain.

After class, Hermione linked arms with the blonde beauty, steering her out of the dungeons before anybody else even had time to realize the two were gone. Rather than take her to the Great Hall or to a secluded hallway, Hermione led her to a tapestry, and when they stood before the wall across from it a door sprang into existence.

“What on earth?” Cordelia breathed in wonderment.

“It’s the Room of Requirement,” Hermione said, ushering her friend inside. She closed and locked the door carefully behind her. “Spill,” she demanded without preamble, sitting cautiously on a couch, staring with intense scrutiny at her friend.

“You wouldn’t want to hear it,” the awed girl replied with obvious trepidation, taking a seat on a couch opposite Hermione.

“I know it has to do with Malfoy,” Hermione stated, her bossy tone irritating Cordelia for a reason she couldn’t fathom. “I heard what you whispered to Professor Snape. You were with Draco.”

“Then you already know what happened, or you think you do,” Cordelia declared, crossing her arms over her chest defensively. “Why ask?”

“Because I’d like to hear it from you,” Hermione said, smiling with amusement. “The way your eyes are glowing, and that positively sickly smile on your face, you have got to be bursting with some sort of excitement or foreboding.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Cordelia exclaimed, blushing from the tips of her blonde hair to the base of her neck. “I do not have…”

“Oh yes you do,” Hermione interrupted, laughing at her friend’s obvious lie. “You’ve been out to lunch ever since you walked into potions late, and it’s obvious you’re still in that same deli!"

Cordelia burst into a fit of giggles, tears streaming down her cheeks as she rocked back and forth on the plush sofa, clutching her stomach in agonizing joy. “You do have a queer way of putting things,” she wheezed out. “Are you taking the mickey?”

“You know very well that I’m not, thank you, Ron,” Hermione replied indignantly. “And if you think you’re throwing me off that easily, you don’t know me half as well as you think. Spill,” she said, pulling out her wand and pointing it in Cordelia’s face, “Or I’ll hex you good with a nasty break out of acne that’ll make Eloise look like a beauty queen.”

Cordelia stopped laughing. “You wouldn’t!” she begged, face getting very pale.

“I would,” Hermione asserted, brandishing her wand menacingly. “Speak now, or forever hold your peace.”

“Fine, he came to me for help, and his feelings came out, and I couldn’t deny mine,” she looked sad. “I lied to you, Hermione. I’ve loved Draco for years, for as long as he’s loved me. I’ve just been putting it off, hoping to save two lives instead of possibly destroying one.”

“I knew you were hiding something,” Hermione said. “I just didn’t know what. So I guess you and Draco are a couple now? Like, officially?” Cordelia blushed again, a yes if Hermione ever saw one. “I wish you two the best of luck.” Hermione leaned over and hugged her friend.

“Thanks…we have a one in three chance to make it,” Cordelia confided, worry stilling the swirling joy in her eyes, turning them a stagnant hue of blue so dark they appeared black. “A sixty-six percent chance of failure.” A tear fell from her darkened eyes, landing on her white skirt.

“How do you know that?” Hermione asked. 

“I saw three possible outcomes to our relationship: one ended in his death, one ended with him hating me with an intensity I do not understand, and one showed us as adults. We were married, ‘Mione, with two beautiful children. The Dark Mark wasn’t on his arm…we were happy.”

“I’m sure that’s the future you’ll be seeing,” Hermione chimed brightly. “You’ll see. I can tell, Cordelia, you were made for a happy ending.”

“Thanks,” she replied, attempting to smile. “I’m sure you’re right. I’ll be as happy as you and…you: I’ll be as happy as you.” She beat herself mentally for almost giving away part of the future, but smiled in relief when Hermione didn’t seem to notice the near slip of important information.

“Come on,” Hermione said, pulling both of them to their feet. “Let’s hurry to the Great Hall for lunch, and then we can spend our free period swimming in the lake.” Cordelia smiled in response, and the two linked arms, walking back into the hallway as if they had never disappeared.


Chapter 5: A Deadly Rage
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]


Disclaimer: You guessed it. Sadly, I don't own any character except Cordelia. All Harry Potter characters belong to the genius mind of JK Rowling...

A/N: Sorry it's short this time, guys, but I decided to divide this chapter up into two parts, so this is the shorter of the two. Don't forget to review: every writer has room for improvement (obviously I could use some) so don't hesitate to tell me what you think.

"Hey, Ron,” Cordelia greeted the handsome redhead as she took a seat next to him at the long wooden table designated for Gryffindor. “Hey, Harry,” she said without looking away from Ron. “How was your day?"

“I dunno…alright, I guess,” Ron mumbled through a mouthful of mashed potatoes and fried chicken.

“It could have been better,” Harry muttered. “Why were you late for potions?”

“She was doing me a favor,” Hermione answered smoothly as she took a seat next to him, glancing nervously from Harry to Cordelia, aware of the unspoken tension.

“Yeah, Hermione needed me to get something from the library for her,” Cordelia agreed, taking a big bite of a roll to avoid having to lie. Harry wasn’t buying it.

“Really? What book?”

The Unforgivable Poisons,” Hermione said quickly. “I thought she’d be allowed to get it without permission because it’s obviously in the restricted section, but Madame Pince—”

“Clearly wasn’t buying my ‘the professor wanted me to get it for him’ excuse,” Cordelia finished. “Honestly, I’m not a very convincing liar to begin with, but it’s even worse when I’ve got no sort of truth to blend in with it.” She smiled sardonically. “I’m just too good hearted to be bad.”

Harry looked suspiciously from the beautiful brunette to the captivating blonde, scrutinizing their every movement. It did not escape his attention that they kept looking at each other, their eyes sharing a secret that they clearly didn’t want the boys to know, and the observation infuriated him. “And I suppose Draco Malfoy just happened to be mentioned in this book, then?” Harry asked.

“Draco?” Cordelia asked, laughing nervously. “What in the world does Draco Malfoy have to do with poisons?”

“I heard you say his name, just as clearly as Hermione did in Potions,” he clarified.

“Oh, that,” Cordelia said, smiling in what she hoped was a sincere and convincing manner. “I ran into Draco before I went into potions. He needed to get some stuff off his chest, but he wasn’t ready. I didn’t even get to speak with him much.” That’s partially true…we didn’t do much talking…and I did run into him before I went to potions. There was enough truth that Cordelia’s lie came off comfortably.

“Oh, so you just used Draco’s name because he’s a favorite of Snape,” Harry concluded, smiling happily for the first time that morning.

“Come off it, Harry,” Cordelia scolded. “Severus isn’t that bad. I don’t have to use name drops. But I thought it might keep him from taking points from Gryffindor, since that seems to be the group I identify most with, even though I’m not really a part of any house any more.”

“Whatever,” Harry said, not caring to listen to the age old lecture. “He loves you because you were in his house for six years. There’s a bond there.”

Cordelia glowered at him, but decided not to rise to the bait in hopes of getting rid of the awkward gap that had formed between the two since the previous night. “So Ron,” she started, hoping to get up an animated conversation. “I hear you’re keeper this year, and co-captain of the Gryffindor quidditch team. Think you can stay alive without the human bludgers around to protect you?”

“Well, those two new boys are only third years, but they’ve got amazing potential, don’t you think, Harry?” Ron asked, interested.

“I wouldn’t have picked them otherwise,” Harry defended, smiling. “They’ve got good strong grip and natural ability. I think it comes from that muggle game they used to play, you know, polo. By the time the first game comes around, those two will be almost as good as Fred and George.”

“Uh-oh, any conversation with those names is bound to be trouble,” a female voice came from behind. Ginny Weasely walked over and took a seat next to Harry, smiling more warmly than necessary for someone who had seen him just that morning. “Should I put in ear plugs to protect myself from future incrimination?” she joked.

“Not at all,” Cordelia smiled, laughing gaily. “We were discussing our new beaters, and naturally Fred and George’s names came up. There is no rule breaking to be done this day to honor their memory.”

Ginny turned and shot Cordelia a scathing look so venomous she actually felt ill for a moment. “Our new beaters?” Ginny asked snidely. “You’re not a Gryffindor, Cordelia, you’re a dirty Slytherin.” Ron, Hermione, Harry, and Cordelia’s jaws dropped in shock at the sudden attack, completely unprovoked.

“I am no longer a Slytherin, Ginny,” Cordelia said lightly, trying to ease the tension she felt suffocating her. “Ask Dumbledore: I don’t live in any of the houses.” The girl’s rage swept over Cordelia like a tidal wave of darkness, drenching her every thought with a powerful emotion so dark it drew her, despite her wish to avoid it. Ginny’s jealous of Harry’s love for me! She thought suddenly, realizing the rude comments and unjustified verbal assault.

“She’s just as much a Gryffindor as I am,” Harry retorted in a deathly quiet voice. “The hat wanted to place me in Slytherin, but I told it no. She never approved of sorting in the first place, so she wouldn’t have bothered arguing.” Ginny turned a deeper shade of red with every word Harry spoke, feeling completely ashamed of having unintentionally insulted him. But she wasn’t about to apologize.

“Only a true Slytherin would date Draco Malfoy,” she proclaimed, glaring daggers at the beautiful blonde she so clearly envied. “As long as she’s dating Draco, she’s a Slytherin, no matter where she lives or who her friends are.” Ginny rose swiftly and tossed her waist length ginger hair over her shoulders, her green eyes flashing with an anger none of the four had ever seen. “The cold hearted are attracted to the cold hearted.” With that she stormed off, joining Seamus Finnegan at the very end of the table.

Silence fell over the foursome as Ron and Harry stared in shock and disbelief at Cordelia, who felt as if she would rather be a pint of pumpkin juice at the moment. Hermione couldn’t seem to find a place to stare, not wanting to make eye contact with anybody, and decided to look in awe at the enchanted ceiling. Cordelia stared from one boy to the other, unsure of what to do or say. Finally, she laughed.

“Well, there’s something you don’t see everyday,” she giggled nervously. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen her so upset before. Those O.W.L.s must finally be catching up to her…a few months later.”

Ron gawked at her, mouth agape, trying to decide if she was a raving lunatic or very unhappy with the unjust accusations Ginny had just flung in her face. “Are…I’m sorry…Are you dating Draco? Or is Ginny just taking the mickey?”

Cordelia searched every bit of her mind, trying to find a way to word the truth so that it didn’t sound as bad as it was. Unfortunately, there was no way to make it sound different without lying outright, and she couldn’t bare the thought of it, so she smiled happily and took a deep breath. “Yes, Ron, as a matter of fact we are.”

Before Ron could get out one word the cups on the table started rattling. Hermione and Cordelia glanced at each other in fright, knowing full well what was happening. “Harry,” Hermione pleaded, putting her hand on his arm. “You have got to control yourself. If you’ll only give her the chance, she’ll explain everything she can to you!”

He didn’t seem to hear her as his eyes stared into Cordelia’s, his pain seeping from his eyes in such a flooding river that she nearly collapsed from it all. “Harry, please stop,” she begged, tears leaking from her eyes blazing like blue fire. “Please…stop hating me, I can’t live with it!”

The goblets began to fly across the room, spraying innocent passersby and bystanders with pumpkin juice and water. Platters went next, and Ron and Hermione, along with several other students, ducked for cover under the table. The other houses looked on, confused and intrigued by the sudden earthquake like action taking place in the Gryffindor section. Only Harry and Cordelia stood in the mess, engaged in what appeared to be a staring match. No one could guess that Cordelia was trapped.

Pain, despair, anger, desperation, and hatred soared through Harry’s soul, driving straight into the heart of Cordelia like some sort of evil Cupid’s arrow. The solid wall of emotion felt like a slug to the face, and she cried out in pain as the waves kept coming, like an army of vultures picking at her until there was nothing left. She sank to the floor, trying desperately to break eye contact but unable to look away, and Harry stood there, force feeding her like an angry parent.

“Somebody get Professor Dumbledore!” Hermione shrieked, jumping from the table at the sounds of anguish from Cordelia. “He’ll kill her if he keeps this up!” She shook Harry, digging her nails deep into his skin to try to pull him away. He didn’t seem to feel or hear, his only object of focus being the source of his torment.

“Harry!” Cordelia shrieked in agony beyond anything she had ever felt. “Stop! Please, just look away! You’re hurting me!” The wild look of murder in his eyes terrified her, knowing full well that he intended to hurt Draco very soon.

Suddenly she was pulled away, strong arms encircling her fragile waist and a gentle hand clasping itself over her eyes. The spell broken, she fainted. Draco Malfoy held her in his arms, cradling her in such a loving way that for a moment nobody knew what to say. “What the hell are you trying to pull, Potter?” he roared, glaring from Harry to the sweet girl in his arms. “You were killing her! Don’t you know what she is? How she works?

Harry snapped out his trance like state and took a look around him, noticing for the first time what he had done. Instantly, he felt remorse and looked at Cordelia, self-hatred consuming him heart and soul. “I…I don’t…” he began, reaching out to stroke her cheek in apology. Draco backed away, and Harry’s hand closed around air.

“Don’t you touch her, Potter,” Draco seethed, his own anger rising. He turned to the shaking Hermione, white with fright. “Why didn’t you close her eyes? Or cover his?” he demanded. “They say you’re smart! What good are you in any kind of emergency if you can’t keep a cool head?” His voice echoed throughout the dining hall, capturing the attention of every student present.

“I don’t know!” Hermione wailed, wringing her hands in utter bewilderment. “It never crossed my mind! Harry! How could you?” she bellowed, turning on her best friend in an instant.

“What’s going on here?” Professor Dumbledore demanded, running into the hall faster than any could imagine such an old man being capable of.   He looked at the unconscious Cordelia in Draco’s arms, the furious Draco, the enraged and guilty Harry, the frightened Hermione, and the dumbfounded Gryffindors taking refuge under the table. “Dear God, what happened?”

“Potter nearly killed Cordelia! That’s what happened!” Draco fumed, glaring murderously at Harry. “That idiot was killing her, professor!”

“It’s true, sir,” Hermione whispered, staring at the ground. “But it was an accident. He was blinded by rage.”

“Harry, I think you and I had better have a talk in my office,” Professor Dumbledore said kindly, placing a fatherly hand on his shoulder. “And Mister Malfoy, if you would please take the young lady to the hospital wing, Madame Pomfrey will be most helpful with reviving her.” Draco nodded and carried her in the direction of the infirmary, while Harry followed the headmaster to his office.

“He’s got some issues, that one,” Ron mumbled, staring after them.

“I have a feeling they’ll only get worse as the bond between Draco and Cordelia grows,” Hermione said, her gaze following Draco’s retreating form. “I only hope Cordelia learns to control what she absorbs from others. Harry’s problems may kill her.”

***

Cordelia’s eyes fluttered open slowly, and closed instantly as bright white light assailed the pupils mercilessly. Behind the wall of her eyelids colored spots danced in circles, making her dizzy as she lay still. “Where am I?” she groaned, sitting up slowly but not opening her eyes.

“In the hospital wing,” Draco answered. She jumped slightly as a hand brushed lightly against her cheek. “We’ve been quite worried about you: we thought maybe he had done permanent damage.”

“Who?” she asked, dazed.

“Harry Potter, of course,” Draco spat, sounding angry and almost frightening her. 

“He didn’t mean to,” she insisted defensively, recalling in an instant the events that had sent her to the hospital wing. “He’s got so much bottled up inside it was only natural for him to explode. I’m just upset it was me that caused the dam to break.” She wiped a tear from her cheek with a slender white hand.

“Don’t you dare feel bad for anything that set him off,” Draco ordered with mock severity. “Especially if it’s just because he’s jealous that I’ve won the love of the most beautiful, talented, sweet, intoxicating woman in the school.” He smirked at her blush and kissed her forehead lovingly. 

“You are a flirt, Draco,” Cordelia laughed, propping herself up on her elbows to stare at him. “An obvious one, at that: you don’t even try to disguise it.”

“Why should I?” he asked huskily, leaning his forehead against hers so that his eyes trapped her own blue orbs. “I like being able to tell you how I feel honestly: it’s such a nice change from hiding everything all of the time.”

Cordelia smiled shyly, placing a soft hand on his handsome young face. “You’re no Slytherin, Draco. I hope you understand that.”

“I understand that I’m a different person when I’m with you,” he said seriously. “But I’m a Slytherin when you’re gone. I hope you understand that.”

Cordelia sighed, a mix of frustration and satisfaction. “If I didn’t know any better I’d say you try to frustrate me on purpose,” she stated, smiling into his eyes. “But I do know better. It’s just part of your charm that you do it unintentionally.”

Draco laughed in surprise and pulled away as Madame Pomfrey bustled into the room bearing a tray of potions that looked revolting. “I thought you’d be awake by now,” she claimed as she sat the tray on the table next to the bed. “Draco was so worried. I tried to send the boy away and he just insisted that you might wake up and be frightened. Now, I suppose you’ll argue that you don’t need any of these,” she said as she indicated the tray.

“You’re quite right. I refuse them all, and you know you can’t make me take them,” Cordelia said stubbornly, crossing her arms over her chest in clear defiance.

“Oh, I know I can’t make you take them all,” she laughed good-naturedly, “But I don’t have to let you leave either. If you agree to take the pepper up potion at the very least, I’ll let you go. Otherwise, you’ll be here for the next week. Now you really don’t want that, do you?”

“I guess I can handle the pepper up,” Cordelia allowed, reaching to take the small cup the medi-witch offered. “At least it doesn’t taste like a bucket full of swamp water.” She downed the potion quickly; much like an expert drinker might take a shot, then placed the empty container on the tray. “Thanks, can I go now?”

The nurse smiled and waved her away, bustling to the next bed that housed a third year who looked as if he had been caught in the middle of a second year dueling session. Happily, Cordelia flung back the covers and leapt from the bed, twirling around in exhilaration. “Come on, Draco, we’re going to be late!” she whispered, taking his hand and pulling him towards the door.

“Late for what?” Draco asked. “You slept through all of our classes! It’s nearly five o’clock!”

“You’ll see,” she replied mysteriously. “You’ll see.”


http://www.harrypotterfanfiction.com