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She looked a little bit like an angel and it made me want to cry. Ollie had made the dress herself, stitching together swathes of creamy gold lace into a tight bodice that descended into floating skirts of chiffon, embroidered with tiny vines and roses. She scrunched her hair up in her hands and gave a little twirl to show us the way the back of the dress dropped down towards her waist, leaving a deep curve of skin visible that was quickly obscured again when she let her curls drop back down over her shoulder blades.

“It’s perfect,” Rose told her, beaming.

The rest of us nodded. I’d gone along with Ollie to her dress fitting because she’d said that she’d like to have me there, but I felt a little bit self-conscious surrounded by her bridesmaids. Lily was shooting me venomous glares whenever I stepped too close, and Rose was friendly but seeing how close her and Ollie was felt difficult.

I knew that Ollie wanted my company, or at least had claimed that she wanted my company, but it felt odd to be the only one in the room not part of the bridal party.

I found myself constantly shuffling away from them and standing with Divya, Ollie’s editor and final bridesmaid, just because she hadn’t been around the last time I’d been in England. If she found it strange that I was there, she hadn’t mentioned it, and she at least didn’t seem to know my history with the Potter family.

Madam Malkin gestured for Ollie to turn around again, and then gave an approving nod.

“Good. We just needed to take it in that extra centimetre,” she said.

“Thank you,” Ollie said earnestly. “I’ve always been rubbish at making adjustments. I would have just worn it not fitting properly. You’ve made such a massive difference.”

Madam Malkin smiled and waved away the compliment before stepping back into the main shop to greet a customer.

Lily stepped closer to Ollie, eyeing her up and down.

“Oh dear,” she said. “My brother’s going to be sickening when he sees you in this dress.”

Ollie grinned. “That’s the plan.”

Lily gave her a playful shove and rolled her eyes.

Ollie laughed. “Now I just have to be extra careful not to gain or lose any weight between now and next week. I need you all to be my dieticians.”

“I’ve got it covered,” Rose told her. “I’ve been learning some charms to reverse last minute weight change. It was in one of my bridal books.”

“Rose takes her role very seriously,” Ollie told me, eyes shining with amusement. “As soon as I asked her to be my maid of honour she made a list of all the relevant reading material. She’s super prepared for all possible eventualities.”

“Well, I like to be on top of things,” Rose said. “I left the Hen to Lils, though. She’s better at that kind of thing.”

“Should I be scared?” Ollie turned to Lily.

Lily gave an evil grin and crossed her arms across her chest. “A magician never reveals her secrets.”

“Ominous,” Rose frowned.

“Yep. As Maid of Honour you have to taste everything and try everything before I do to make sure it’s safe,” Ollie said, and then turned to me. “Cass, you should come. It’s tomorrow night.”

“Oh...erm…”

I could feel Lily’s eyes drilling into me, willing me to come up with a reason why I wouldn’t want to join. But Ollie’s eyes had widened. She looked hopeful.

“Okay. Sure. If that’s alright.”

“Fab,” Ollie smiled. “Some of the other Hogwarts girls will be there. Clara and Esther both said they’d come, and Amethyst. They’ll all be pleased to see you.”

I found that unlikely. Clara Zabini had hated me pretty much since the moment she met me, and I’d been fairly horrid to Amethyst Twine throughout school. Esther would probably pretend it was nice to have me there. She was good at being nice.

“Great. Looking forward to it,” I managed to say.

“Good. Someone help me get this dress off? I’m scared of ripping it.”

Rose and Lily followed Ollie back into the changing cubicle, leaving me hovering awkwardly outside with Divya .

Divya slouched back and flopped onto a bench in the waiting area.

“I love Liv but I’ve just about had it with all this wedding stuff,” she confessed, rubbing a hand back over her shaved head.

Her voice was deep and throaty. It sounded a little like she might need to cough, but she showed no sign of discomfort.

“Not enjoying being a bridesmaid?” I joined her on the bench.

She shrugged. “Not a big fan of pretty dresses. I’m sure it’ll be fun on the day.”

“Yeah.”

She reached down the front of her shirt and pulled out a small purple hip flask embossed with a silver owl. She took a swig and then offered the flask to me.

It was only midday but I couldn’t see any reason to turn down the drink, so took a sip myself. I coughed. I wasn’t sure what it was but the burn it left down my throat made it clear that it was stronger than firewhiskey.

“So you’re the infamous Cassie Selwyn,” Divya smirked, reaching out to take the flask back from me. “I’ve been wondering if I’ll get to meet you.”

“I’m not infamous.”

“No? How should I describe you?” Divya’s eyes were sparkling. “Notorious?”

“Shut up.” I snatched the flask back from her and took a deep gulp, wincing as the liquid scorched my throat and chest.

“Okay, okay. We don’t need to talk about the notoriety. So what’s Albus like?” Divya asked. “I’ve only met him like twice.”

I shrugged. “He’s nice.”

Divya rolled her eyes and nudged me with her shoulder.

“You’ve got to give me more than that. Liv’s one of my best friends and she’s getting married to someone I hardly know.”

“He’s lovely,” I admitted. “Really nice. So nice that it confuses me a little bit.”

“Nice confuses you?”

“Yeah,” I shrugged. “I’m not very good at nice.”

Divya laughed. “So he’s good for Liv?”

I looked at her. She looked genuinely interested. I felt like a bit of a fraud talking about Al and Ollie, given that I’d hardly seen them over the last few years, but I felt like the nature of their relationship was pretty obvious.

“She just seems...calm when she’s with him,” I said. “He recognises what she needs to be happy. And I think she probably does the same for him.”

Divya nodded slowly. “She seems happy.”

“I think she is.”

“Good.” Divya nodded and had another drink.

Rose gave Divya a disapproving glance when she stepped out of changing room. Divya wiggled her fingers at her and tucked the hip flask away again before Ollie and Lily came out.

Ollie was back in jeans and a jumper, but still smiling like she had been when wearing her wedding dress.

“Thanks everyone,” she grinned. “I’m glad you were all here to make sure it was okay.”

Rose laughed and hugged her. “I’ve been desperate to see your dress. You couldn’t have stopped me from coming. But I should probably get back to St Mungo’s now. My next client’s due soon.”

“Me too,” Divya sighed. “I’m on my lunch hour.”

Rose frowned at her. “And you’re drinking?”

Divya shrugged. “I’m the boss. Nobody can complain.”

Lily looked like she found Divya funny but she didn’t say anything. Maybe she was scared of offending Rose.

“I should go too, Liv,” Lily said through a yawn. “People keep complaining about how often I close the shop.”

Ollie hugged them all and they filtered out through the door.

She turned to me. “Well done. You didn’t have a battle with Lily.”

“She didn’t have a battle with me.”

“Proud of you,” Ollie laughed.

She linked her arm through mine and we walked out of the shop and into Diagon Alley. It was cloudy and grey, but not cold. The paving stones were still slick with water from the downpour the previous night.

“I’m getting lunch with Scor,” Ollie said.

“Oh?”

“Yeah. His office is just round the corner. We try to meet up a couple of times a week and catch up.”

“How is he?” I looked down at the floor.

“He’s really good. You know he’s been seeing Rose?”

I swallowed. “No. I didn’t know that.”

“She makes him really happy, I think. They’ve been together for a couple of years now.”

“Oh.”

I could feel Ollie looking at me, trying to work out my reaction to this piece of information. To be honest I wasn’t sure how it made me feel. I had no right to care about Scor’s love life any more. The end of our relationship at school was completely and undeniably my own fault. But it felt a bit strange to know that he loved someone else now, to know that someone else was now the most important person in his life.

“You should come with me. For lunch,” Ollie said. “Scor would like to see you.”

“I find that very unlikely.”

She sighed. “He really would like it. He’ll want to know how you are.”

“He hates me.”

“He did,” she conceded. “For a long time. You hurt him. But that was years ago. He’s moved on. I thought you had too.”

“Maybe.”

“Just come for lunch. You don’t have to stay for long if you feel uncomfortable.”

I walked down the street with her, trying to find an excuse not to see Scor but knowing that I’d probably do whatever Ollie wanted me to.

We stopped outside a little cafe with green awning. I could see the back of Scor’s head through the window, bent down over a menu. He was wearing a suit and his shoulders were broader than the last time I’d seen him.

“I’m going to head back to your place,” I told Ollie.

“Really? I thought I’d managed to get you here.” Ollie pouted.

“I know. I’m sorry. I just feel like it would be too much today.”

“Okay. I’ll see you later on.”

“Yeah.” I reached out to hug her. “See you later.”

I crossed the road as Ollie went inside, and then looked back to see Scor pull her into a hug and kiss the top of her head. They still shared such an easy affection it looked like nothing had changed between them since we were kids. But of course to me everything looked different, because we used to be inseparable as a three, and now they were happy without me.

It was starting to drizzle. I kicked through the puddles and started to walk back in the other direction. Ollie and Albus’s house was just around the corner from Diagon Alley, and even though it was raining I felt like I needed the walk.

When I reached their street, for some reason my feet kept moving. I’d been meaning to go straight back and lie down and try to sort through my feelings from the day, but I found myself walking past their front door and continuing down the street.

I suppose I knew where I was going, but I didn’t let myself think it through because I knew if I gave it too much thought I wouldn’t go through with it.

I trudged through muggle London until I reached the house I’d been looking for. It didn’t look like much from the outside, squeezed in between two much larger houses built up beside it, but if you looked carefully you could see hints of the magic that made it extraordinary inside: the flowers that grew just a bit taller than the ones in the gardens next door; the windows that somehow didn’t reveal anything inside, no matter how closely you looked; the huge gold doorknocker that didn’t quite fit with the modern style of the rest of the house.

I took a deep breath and forced myself to step up to the front door. I wasn’t sure if anybody would even be in, and definitely wasn’t sure what I’d do if they were, but I’d come this far and was determined to keep going.

The doorknocker was heavy and I let it thump down onto the door several times before stepping back slightly and waiting for the door to open.

Footsteps sounded on the other side of the door and I crossed my arms tightly around my chest and chewed on my lip, nervous.

The door swung open and I stared at the boy behind it.

He looked different but somehow exactly the same. His hair was a bit longer than it had been when I’d known him, curling a little over his ears, but it suited him. He had a thin scar grazing his jawline from some quidditch accident that had happened in the years since I’d last seen him. But his eyes were the same, his lips were the same, his tense stance was the same. And suddenly I didn’t feel nervous anymore.

“Cassie,” he breathed.

I looked at him, my eyes flickering down to his left arm, now ending just below his shoulder. The sleeve of his jumper dangled, empty and shapeless, over the space where his flesh used to be. I pulled my gaze away and looked back up at his face.

“Hi, James,” I murmured.

He slammed the door shut in my face.







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