In the days following her conversation with Hermione, Evelyn was constantly debating whether or not she had made the right choice to keep the prophecies from Harry. She understood that there would eventually come a time when he needed to know, especially as the headlines of the Daily Prophet grew darker with each passing day. She recognized, too, that the longer she kept the fact that she knew of both prophecies from him the more likely he would feel betrayed. Nevertheless, she couldn’t bring herself to say the words, not to Harry.
Harry: the man who looked at her as if he truly saw her.
She found every excuse to avoid losing that look. The timing wasn’t right. He was distracted with his work for the headmaster. Exams were coming up. There wasn’t a good place for them to go to even have the conversation to begin with.
This final reason was perhaps the most persuasive to Hermione, who had begun to hint to Evie that it was her duty to tell Harry sooner rather than later. However, both girls were unsure how he would take the news, and agreed they would need a space where he could be angry with Evelyn, excited, or confused, and, most importantly, where they wouldn’t be in danger of being overheard.
The halls and classrooms were too crowded, the common room too open. When Evelyn was able to squeeze out a moment alone with him on their way to class or heading from a meal to their next activity, Ginny always seemed to appear. As the days moved along, it became easier and easier to avoid the conversation altogether. Even Hermione seemed to concede, admitting one evening in the library that the conversation may be easier to have once they left Hogwarts for the summer.
Evelyn agreed, and immediately felt the words of the prophecy sink deep inside her, far away from her lips and deep into her belly. There they stayed, repressed for the most part—except for sleepless nights, when they seemed to bubble up inside her along with doubt and uncertainty.
Even if she had been able to find the time and place to tell him, Evelyn noticed that Harry seemed rather preoccupied since his excitement in Charms the day Katie Bell had returned. His preoccupation was particularly apparent as they left a dueling session where he'd bested her in their final go, leaving her flat on her back with the wind knocked out of her. When she didn’t bounce back up right away, he had rushed to her side, arriving in her frame of view just as her anxious breathing turned into laughter. She had been trying to congratulate him, but he had seemed too worried to boast or tease, and he had grown quiet—and had stayed that way as they exited the Room of Requirement.
She assumed he was thinking about the upcoming Quidditch match, which was just days away now, or Ginny, who had been frustrated with him before they had left to practice. As they walked, she felt that familiar uncertainty begin to churn in her stomach. She began to feel paranoid, wondering if the headmaster or Hermione had let slip something that had made him realize she had something she wasn’t telling him. She felt the sudden urge to ask him what was wrong, to confront it head on. The halls were deserted and, if they ran a bit late to dinner, no one would think anything of it as their friends all knew they were practicing.
"Harry," she started, halting suddenly. She was in the middle of the hall, and immediately felt self-conscious as his green eyes turned towards her. In the bright light of the torches that hung along the halls, his eyes looked ablaze. "Is everything alright?" He opened his mouth, looking mildly surprised, but she cut him off before he could say anything, adding, "Whatever it is, we can talk about it."
She paused, staring at him with pleading eyes. He looked back at her with those burning eyes, his mouth half-open in response, but his words drowned out by a shrill voice whining, "Don't! I can help you!"
Her brow crinkled as she moved her eyes from Harry to a nearby bathroom door, where another voice had interrupted the first. This second voice was more familiar, cold and articulate.
"I told you not to come here. Not to come to her. This is unacceptable, not to mention pathetic." It was her sister’s voice.
Together they moved towards the door, which Harry immediately pushed open with a deft hand. Evelyn drew her wand as she slipped in behind him. From their position by the entrance, she could see Draco Malfoy standing at the sinks with his back to them. He was hunched over, his pale hands gripping the side of the sink as if to support himself.
Evelyn couldn't see her sister or the third speaker, but Harry's eyes were trained on Malfoy. This is the moment he’s been waiting for, she realized, what all of his suspicions had been leading towards. To have Elizabeth there solidified all of Evie’s suspicions. She could feel her grip tighten around her wand as she crept forward, trying to find an advantageous position in the bathroom.
"I can't do it, Elizabeth. I can't—it won't work."
"You have to make it work. You don't have a choice." The bitterness seeped from her voice as she spoke, but then she grew a bit softer. "He will kill you, Draco. He'll take everything from you. Even me."
The last words were nearly whispered, but they hit Evelyn with force. She’d suspected that her sister and Draco Malfoy were romantically involved, but now she knew. She shifted to the left, and Elizabeth came into view. Her arms were crossed, and she stood tall and foreboding in the doorway of a stall. Despite her posture, her face was sincere and Evelyn knew that, while she was obviously trying to manipulate Malfoy, there was some truth to her words. There was feeling in them, feeling which Evelyn hadn’t believed her sister capable of any longer.
Malfoy gasped, shuddering and lifting his eyes to meet hers in the mirror. His face was red, and Evelyn realized he must have been crying. The fierceness in his eyes told her that her sister's words had struck a chord, but he never responded as his eyes refocused and shifted to Harry, who stood immediately behind him in the reflection of the mirror.
Malfoy turned quickly, drawing his wand and sending a hex towards Harry. Fortunately, Harry hadn't been exhausted by their practice and, quicker on his feet than he had been in the fall, flung himself to the side. She turned her eyes from Harry, who seemed to be focused solely on Malfoy and had forgotten her sister, who had drawn her own wand and had aimed it towards Harry. Evelyn waited until she saw the familiar look pass over her sister's face—the tightening jaw, the slightly narrowed eyes—that was the tell that always came just before she cast a nonverbal spell. Just as the spell erupted from her sister's wand, her own nonverbal shield charm collided with it, sparing Harry whatever hex Ellie had thought necessary to deploy.
Her sister's sharp eyes turned on her, a nasty expression blossoming on her face. "Should have known you wouldn't be far behind," she sneered, turning her wand towards her sister and flicking it with a long, slender movement. Evelyn deflected that as well, moving further to her left and casting a stunning spell, which Ellie easily deflected. Somewhere to her right, a disembodied voice was screaming as the boys continued to hurl spells at one another. A trashcan erupted behind her. Evelyn moved to the left, trying to take up room and give herself space to cast while keeping a vigilant eye on her sister. Glass crunched beneath her feet, and as her sister sent another spell her way, she was forced to drop to her belly. She could immediately feel shards cut into her palms, but she ignored the pain and sprung back to her feet, smiling sweetly at Elizabeth.
"You know me, El. You'll have to be faster."
She cast a silencing spell, which narrowly missed. Ellie laughed coldly, bringing her wand through the air in a sharp line. A blue jet of light erupted from her wand, but Evelyn cast her own and the two spells collided midair, erupting in a nearby bathroom stall and scorching the door. The smell of burnt metal filled Evie's nose, but Harry's voice was all she heard, booming through the room.
Then, suddenly, the room grew eerily silent.
Whatever spell he had cast, Elizabeth must have recognized it because she immediately dropped her wand arm. Evelyn barely registered the disbelief that washed over her sister's whitening face before Elizabeth bolted to the right, moving out of sight in the direction of where the boys had been dueling. Feet splashing, labored breathing, running water—Evelyn knew immediately something wasn't right. Her stomach dropped as she jolted forward, following her sister and calling out Harry's name. She found him, hands fumbling against Malfoy's chest, looking scared and helpless.
Elizabeth was attempting to knock him away, her voice bitterly cutting through the silence, "How could you! How could you!"
"No, I-I didn't—" Harry was knocked from his knees, his bum falling into a growing puddle of water with a splash and Evelyn could see immediately that his hands and clothes were soaked in blood. She realized, too, that the blood wasn't his. Elizabeth's wand lay forgotten as she used her hands to apply pressure to Malfoy's wounds like they had learned to do in their combat course at the Academy. His chest shook beneath her palms as his eyes bulged and blinked rapidly. His hands fumbled against hers, trying to grasp hers but seemingly unable to grip them properly. A ghost Evelyn had never seen before, the owner of the third voice, was screaming about murder and sobbing hysterically. Evelyn did the only thing she could think to do. She moved to her sister's side, her wand shaking slightly, and began to cast the suturing charm they had been taught in those same combat courses. The sutures seemed feeble, quivering against the edges of the gashes that riddled Malfoy's body, but they slowed the bleeding and became the sole focus of Evelyn's attention, so much so that she didn't notice the arrival of Professor Snape. He knocked past Harry and Elizabeth, pausing only momentarily to look at Evelyn's work.
"These won't hold against this Dark Magic, girl." He growled, knocking her wand away and beginning to incant an unfamiliar spell that immediately eased the blood flow. Elizabeth shuffled to the other side of Malfoy, reaching out to wipe residue from his face and leaning over to whisper something into his ear that Evie couldn't make out.
She moved back, her legs soaked and her clothing weighing her down. Her eyes moved to Harry, whom she wanted to make sure was okay. She took his hands in hers, turning them over and cleaning the blood from them with her wand. His eyes were trained on Malfoy, never blinking, and he shook wildly in his seat.
"You're okay, Harry, you're okay. It was an accident. You didn't know." She whispered as she pushed his wet hair from his forehead and wiped water from his glasses. She repeated the mantra again and a third time until he seemed to stop his shaking. His hands were holding her wrists, like a parent worried that a child might disappear in a crowd, but his eyes never left Malfoy.
Elizabeth felt something that had been twisted up and barbed inside of her relax as her Head of House finished the countercurse. Draco was silent, his face still streaked with tears, but ruddiness was coming back to his neck and cheeks that hadn't been there a few moments before. His fingers lay entwined with hers, weakly returning her grasp, and his eyes were set on their interlaced hands.
Professor Snape was stopping now, raising Draco onto his feet and Elizabeth forced her shoulder under his other arm so that she could help support him. They moved slowly across the bathroom, pausing only so that Snape could say something to her sister and Potter.
Once they were beyond the door and well into the empty hallway, Snape asked in a low and loathsome voice, "What were you doing in that bathroom?"
Draco groaned in response, the flush moving up his neck and into his hairline. Perspiration gathered on his brow and he passed a look to Elizabeth that she recognized. Don't tell, it seemed to scream.
"We were arguing about next steps." She supplied, knowing it was close to the truth. They had indeed been arguing and it had been about the cabinet, but it had also been about that damn ghost that seemed to be able to pull these pathetic morsels of truth from Draco. Elizabeth hated the very idea of the rapport between Draco and the ghost, and she thought she knew why, though she wasn't ready to admit that to anyone. "I wanted Draco to let me try traveling through the wardrobe. To see if it’s really fixed. But, he said it wasn't safe yet. He's being too timid, and I'm getting restless. Bella is too."
None of this was a lie. In fact, it had been a letter from Bella that afternoon that had motivated Elizabeth to seek Draco out in an attempt to again persuade him that it was time to try the wardrobe. Bella had suggested that if Draco wasn't ready to test it himself, then perhaps he could "persuade" a house elf or younger student to act as proxy. Elizabeth, however, had never had the chance to broach the topic with him because, when she had finally discovered him, he was crying pathetically to that ghost. If his injuries hadn't been so serious just then, she would have mocked him for this. Instead she shifted his weight up her shoulder a little, and tightened her arm around his waist.
"You mean to tell me that you sought out a public space for a private conversation, and managed to attract so much attention to yourselves that Myrtle Warren, Harry Potter, and your own sister, Miss Castell, joined you in the lavatories and, without cause, increased the spectacle you were already making of yourselves by engaging you in a duel and destroying the facilities?"
She paused for a minute, feeling his words drip with loosely restrained hostility. Then, she nodded her head gently so as to disrupt Draco as little as possible and trained her eyes on her professor.
He glared back at her, a curtain of oily black hair covering his left eye. "I don't think I need to remind you of the sensitivity surrounding your assignment."
"You don't, professor." She said aridly.
He came to a halt a few steps from the doors, shifting Draco's weight from his shoulder and carefully leaning the young man's body away from him. Draco moaned in discomfort, but she was relieved he had made it to the hospital wing conscious. She looked expectantly at their Head of House, who seemed to be considering them. His lips flattened into a thin line and he said, "Since you are able to make so many other decisions on your own, I suppose you'll be able to decide how best to get through those doors. The matron is inside. Ensure she gives him a proper dose of dittany."
Professor Snape disappeared with a sweep of his cloak, leaving Elizabeth slightly baffled by what appeared to be a punishment. She spent nearly twenty minutes trying to walk Draco the last yard, and then an additional ten minutes calling out for Madam Pomfrey while half-balancing, half-dragging Draco through the door and towards a nearby bed.
The matron must have been tending to another student because she didn't arrive until Elizabeth was raising Draco's feet onto the bed. He had shuddered and moaned as she'd tilted him back against the pillows, the various cuts glaring back at her through the shredded remains of his shirt. Immediately she began to fuss over Draco, pulling his shirt open and examining the wounds.
"Professor Snape did this?" She said arching, not sparing a glance to Elizabeth as she placed a cool compress on Draco's forehead.
"Yes, Madam Pomfrey. He thought dittany would be the best to treat the wounds, to prevent scarring."
"Yes, he thought correctly. I'll need to prepare it—you have until I return to say your goodbyes. Five minutes at most!"
Elizabeth didn't want to argue, pulling a nearby chair closer to Draco's bedside. It was unclear whether or not he was awake. The compress had been placed over his eyes, and his breathing was shallow. It sounded as if every breath pained him, but his chest kept rising and falling much to her relief. She turned her eyes to her hands, which had folded themselves in her lap and which she hoped would serve as distraction until she could think of what she wanted to say. Her fingers were a rusty brown color, stained by blood. Draco's blood, she thought, the scene so bright in her memory she was unsure she would ever be rid of it. She was suddenly furious with herself that it had been Evelyn who was rational in that moment instead of her. She should have been the one to come to his side, poised and prepared with the spells she had been taught so long ago. Instead she had attempted to use Muggle methods to slow his bleeding like a disgusting Squib. She could feel a frustrated blush creep up her neck, and she was embarrassed.
Her eyes snapped up. Draco had shifted the compressed onto his forehead, and he groaned as he lowered his arm back to the bed. His eyes squinted in her direction, as if he wasn’t sure she was really there.
"You don't have to talk. We only have a couple minutes now. We'll have plenty of time later. I'll come back—"
"You–you can't," he started, laboring over the words. His breath was wheezy, and that barbed feeling came back into her chest, squeezing her heart.
Of course I can come back," she edged forward in her chair, reaching out instinctually to move his hair off of his forehead and adjust his compress.
"You can't tell anyone what happened." He corrected, his hand shooting up to catch hers. He still had the deft grip of a seeker, but he groaned again at the effort. She stared down at him, shocked. She noticed tears edging his eyes, and she wasn't certain they were due to pain. "Please, you can't. He'll–He'll—"
She nodded, cutting him off. She already knew the end of the sentence.
Before they could say another word, the matron returned and promptly kicked Elizabeth out of the hospital wing with the added injury of informing her that Draco wouldn't be allowed visitors until the next afternoon at the earliest. Alone in the corridor, hands stiff with blood, she weighed her options. If she ran, she might be able to catch Evie before Professor Snape was done with them. She was pretty certain she could get two or three curses in before her Head of House could stop her. She fingered her wand, tempted.
Instead, she turned towards the Room of Requirement. She’d take all this anger and determination, and channel it towards the cabinet. She would do what needed to be done, what Draco feared was impossible. She could hurt Evie now or she could destroy her later, she reasoned.
Later wasn’t too far away.
When Professor Snape returned, he found Evelyn and Harry standing silently in red tinted puddles. They hadn't spoken since he'd left, but as soon as Snape entered, Harry blurted out, "I didn't mean it to happen."
"Apparently I underestimated you, Potter. Who would have thought you knew such Dark Magic? Who taught you that spell?"
"I–read about it somewhere." Harry replied unconvincingly, but Evelyn knew he was lying.
"It was–a library book. I can't remember what it was called—"
"Liar," The professor's voice was quiet, which made the conversation perhaps more uncomfortable to witness. Evelyn immediately felt as though she shouldn't be there, as neither of them had yet to acknowledge her. "Bring me your school bag, and all of your books. All of them. Bring them to me here. Now!"
Harry turned immediately, running from the bathroom. His feet slashed hard against the puddles surrounding them, and Evelyn winced as the door banged shut behind him. The room was quiet again, and she turned her eyes from her hands to the angry, black eyes of the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. His eyes bore so deeply into her that she felt exposed. He had never looked at her so critically before, and she felt unnerved. She shuddered against her wet clothes, wishing she could excuse herself but knowing he would never allow her to leave. Plus, it felt wrong to leave before Harry returned. He might need her to act as a witness, and she knew she would do it—even though he was lying.
She couldn't tell if Harry returned very quickly or if he took an inordinate amount of time, as time didn't seem to pass at all in that bathroom. The air rang with silence, and she wasn't even sure if Professor Snape was breathing. All of that was disrupted when the door flew open, banging against the wall, and Harry's feet came splashing through the room. His breathing was loud and chaotic, and he looked nervous. Professor Snape held out his hand, and Harry deposited the strap of his bag into his outstretched palm.
The professor slowly pulled each book from the bag, turning them over and opening the cover. For some, he flipped through mindfully, examining dog-eared pages and marginal notes. All the while, Harry stood beside Evelyn breathing noisily but not looking at her. She was mesmerized by Professor Snape's movements, and gave her full attention to his process. He reached in and extracted the last book, Harry's copy of Advanced Potion-Making.
Suddenly, Evelyn realized what this was all about.
"This is your copy of Advanced Potion-Making, is it, Potter?”
"You're quite sure of that, are you, Potter?"
Evelyn noted that the second response came with slightly more confidence. In it, she could hear that dismissive tone that came to Harry's voice every time he spoke to or of the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.
"This is the copy of Advanced Potion-Making that you purchased from Flourish and Blotts?"
"Yes," Harry spoke again, his response firm but nearly flippant.
"Then why does it have the name "Roonil Wazlib" written inside the front cover?" Professor Snape was nearly snarling, his lip curling up in disgust. It was clear that he thought Harry was lying. She could remember the night Ron's quill stopped working, and began to write words incorrectly. It was Ron's book, though how Harry had managed to swap it for his own was a mystery to her.
She wasn't concentrating on Harry's response, but could deduce it based on Professor Snape's next remark, "I understand what a nickname is," he said. His eyes narrowed, "Miss Castell, have you ever heard Mr. Potter referred to as Roonil Wazlib?"
For the first time, her presence was acknowledged and she immediately felt like a spotlight had been turned on her. Both men turned their eyes to her, and the air around her seemed to fill with expectation. "On a handful of occasions." She replied, trying to sound convincing.
"And do you think Mr. Potter is being honest with me?"
She looked at Harry thoughtfully for a moment before turning her eyes back to Professor Snape. "Harry wouldn't lie, professor. What happened here was an accident, we—"
"Enough, Miss Castell." Professor Snape's voice was venomously low, and he turned his head towards Harry, promptly forgetting Evelyn was there again. "Do you know what I think, Potter? I think that you are a liar and a cheat and that you deserve detention with me every Saturday until the end of term. What do you think, Potter?"
"I–I don't agree, sir," said Harry.
"Well, we shall see how you feel after your detentions," said Snape. "Ten o'clock Saturday morning, Potter. My office." He paused for a moment, and then added, "Miss Castell, you are free to go. But take this as a warning: lie to me again, and you'll be joining Mr. Potter in his detentions."
"But sir, Quidditch... The last match of the...." Harry's sentences were desperately trailing off, and Evelyn knew there was no coming back now.
"Ten o'clock. Poor Gryffindor... Fourth place this year, I fear."
And with that, the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor swept out of the room. The only noise between the two of them for some time was the clanging of the bathroom door as it bounced on its hinges and settled back into place. Evelyn knew immediately that Harry was devastated, but she didn't know what she could do or say to help him. She assumed, frankly, that she wasn’t the one he wanted help from, that he’d prefer Ginny, Ron, or Hermione in that moment to her. Admittedly, she wanted to get as far away from this room as she could. She wanted her dorm room, with its small, private bathroom where she could strip off her clothes and shower until all of Draco Malfoy’s blood was gone.
Harry seemed frozen in place, but he came to life as she took his hand in hers and whispered, "Let's head back to the tower."
They walked in absolute silence through the halls and up the stairwells. Luckily, the halls were deserted. No one appeared to witness their bloodstained clothes, or their strained, silent faces. Evelyn wasn’t interested in talking. She wasn’t even hungry anymore. If it hadn’t been for Harry’s hand clinging to hers as they walked, she would have completely sunk into her thoughts. She led him blindly, not fully aware of the turns that came or went. They must have startled the Fat Lady when they arrived because she took the password from them with her mouth hanging open.
As the portrait closed behind them, Harry stopped, tightened his grip on her hand, and turned towards her. His free hand came to her shoulder, partially to stop her and partially because he wanted to touch her.
"Before we go in, I just wanted to say thank you for standing by me."
She listened intently to his simple declaration, the light of the common room just reaching their faces. Harry still looked pale, and his grip was tight on her shoulder. He held her almost as if he needed her. She nearly cried, standing there half-held by him and trying to process all that had happened since they’d left the Room of Requirement together. She must have looked quite serious standing there before him because his own demeanor became more solemn.
"Harry, what you did was wrong. That magic was dark, and it scared me. You scared me. So, don't thank me. Please. Just," she paused, speaking as softly as she could to prevent being overheard, "Just promise you won't do it again."
A grim line set across his face, and he nodded purposefully, adding seriously, "You have my word."
She nodded her acceptance, looking for a moment like she might say something more, but feeling too desperate for it to be over. Instead, she dropped his hand and moved out of his arms and into the common room. Hermione, Ron, and Ginny watched her go past from the couch, and though Hermione called out to her, she didn't stop. She went straight for the girls' staircase, and disappeared from sight. Harry had followed her in, his eyes never leaving her until she disappeared from view. Then he turned his eyes from the top of the stairs to his friends and his girlfriend, who were each wearing vastly different expressions.
It didn't take long for him to fill in the gaps between his bursting in to take Ron's potions book and his return with Evelyn.
"I won't say 'I told you so,'" Hermione started in, a sour expression on her face and her arms crossed over her chest.
"Leave it, Hermione," Ron said with gusto before Harry could object on his own behalf.
Harry himself said nothing. He felt sick, particularly after the verbal lashing he had received from Professor McGonagall, who had come straight away from a meeting with Professor Snape. When she had finished, she had added quietly, "I expected more from the friends of my niece, particularly one held in such high esteem. I trust you to protect her—not to drag her into elementary feuds."
Those words had been like a venomous snakebite, painful on impact and now slowly circulating through his body. To learn that he was held in any opinion of Evelyn's, on any other occasion, would have intrigued and excited him, but today it felt embarrassing. Today, it felt as if he had truly disappointed her.
Evelyn had not come back downstairs and he suspected she wouldn't. McGonagall herself had gone up to check on her niece, and had come back down a half hour or so later, throwing another stern look at Harry before exiting the common room. He felt increasingly miserable.
"I told you there was something wrong with that Prince person, and I was right, wasn't I." Hermione's sentence had all the words of a question, but her tone was direct and declarative, snapping Harry's attention back to the moment and his eyes away from the top of the girls' staircase.
"No, I don't think you were." Ginny interjected, her own eyes moving from the staircase back to Harry. He was relieved for a moment, until she added, "There’s something wrong with Evelyn."
All three sets of eyes jumped to Ginny, and Harry was sure his mouth wasn't the only one hanging ajar.
Hermione was able to muster only, "Excuse me?" in response.
"There’s been something wrong with her since she arrived! She acts like she’s your friend—asserting herself into everything with us, acting like she has a right to things she doesn’t. She’s horrible. Now, she’s tricked Harry into attacking Draco and her sister.” An angry, unflattering blush crept across Ginny’s face. Harry, speechless, hung on her every word (admittedly, and ironically, for the first time in months). Her head spun from him to her brother to Hermione and back around. “Come on, doesn’t it seem a bit convenient? Her and her sister probably planned it with Malfoy. She’s a traitor and a spy. We shouldn’t trust her.”
"A spy? What're you on about?" Harry finally managed.
Ginny looked rebuffed, "Come on, Harry! She's been causing problems for you since she arrived! First when she was batty in the fall, and then with her episodes. Then she gave you the runaround at the start of the term, refusing to help you when you were begging her to, and now this! You nearly get cursed in a duel with Malfoy, you’re banned from the match, and what happens to her? She gets a few scrapes! By your own account, she was helping Malfoy. Cared more about him then you! It’s obvious. She's not our friend!"
Silence stretched between the four of them. Ron looked a bit confused. Hermione looked enraged. Harry’s feelings for Evelyn and Ginny were bubbling up inside of him, churning around diabolically.
Hermione recovered first, saying, "Ginny, that's ridiculous—frankly, you don't know what you're talking about. You don't have all the facts. You sound ignorant, and you should watch it because she is my friend." Her tone was measured and clear, but serious.
"Yeah, Gin, I think you're a bit off mark. I mean," Ron stumbled into his sentence, and never quite made it to the end because Ginny cut him off, indignant.
"Evelyn is a problem! She has been all year—why am I the only one who sees it?" The red blush had moved down her face, over her neck, and across her chest. There was something about her tone that Harry didn't like. "She's damaged, or she's–she's corrupted. I don't know what she is, but we shouldn't trust her." Her voice was rising, and Harry knew it was time to tone her down. She was upset, and had been upset, because he had often chosen Evelyn over her, but it had always been for dueling and he had expected Ginny to understand.
"Stop it, Ginny. You've got no clue." He felt defensive, his embarrassment growing in response to the childish anger of his girlfriend. "You're angry with me, and you're taking it out on Evie."
Something flashed behind Ginny's eyes, and she raised her finger at Harry defiantly. "Don't call her that pet name. Not in front of me."
"You sound mad!" Harry felt hot beneath his collar, and he suddenly felt exposed.
"I’m not mad. I know! I see how you look at her! I have eyes, ears, a brain—you treat me like I don't, but I do. I thought if I played it cool and ignored it, it would be fine. But it's not fine, Harry. It's not cool anymore. She's destroying everything we've made together, and you don’t see it. You sit here defending her. You, and my friend, and my brother." Ginny cast them each a glare in turn, an angry tear slipping from her eye as she looked back to Harry.
"You're acting like a crazy person." The sentence was all that Harry could muster. He knew she had a point. He'd had feelings for Evie for months now. He couldn't deny it, but he thought he had been better at hiding it than Ginny made it seem. He thought he had been, at least in the beginning, a good boyfriend. Something had changed recently, and he recognized that, but to blame Evelyn for what had happened that day, when it was so clearly and irreversibly his fault, was absurd.
Ginny looked as if she had been slapped across the face, and no one spoke for a whole minute. The red rash was slowly fading now, but Ginny looked more dangerous than she had ever before in her life. She grounded out in a slow, lethal tone, "She has ruined everything. I hate her—and I hate you, Harry. We're through. We're done."
She got up then, storming out of the common room. Distantly, Harry could hear the Fat Lady shouting after Ginny in the corridor beyond for being too forceful. Inside, the common room was eerily quiet. All eyes were on Harry, who sat like a stone on the chair near the couch.
He didn't move, didn’t chase after Ginny. He didn't even say anything else. He just allowed his body to slowly sink deeper into the chair, silently hoping it would swallow him whole.
Credits: All bolded text comes from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
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