This one’s dedicated to Lyrical, thank you for all the support you show me, my friend, and I hope the hoodie’s warm!
If you prefer audiobooks, listen to the audio version created by Sam Gabriel below!
Weak winter sun bathed Harry’s face in gentle heat between the faint gusts of wind rippling through the top of the quidditch stands. He rested his heels on the railing and breathed out a long sigh.
‘Oi!’ A shadow drifted over him and Katie’s voice cut through the quiet flutter of the breeze. ‘You’re supposed to be watching for problems in my chaser drills.’
Harry cracked open one eye and squinted up at where Katie hung over him in mud-spattered quidditch robes. ‘I never agreed to that.’
‘I dragged you down here so you could!’ She swooped down and poked him in the chest with her foot. ‘Stop napping.’
‘And here I thought you just liked my company…’ He sighed. ‘Conned again.’
Katie giggled, drifted a little closer and swung herself off the Firebolt, placing a foot on the seats either side of Harry and resting the broom over her shoulder. ‘Want me to come keep you company?’
Harry leant back from her navel. ‘I already have company.’ He motioned at the stand below. ‘See, Romilda’s here. I don’t need you. She’s all I could ever want.’
She laughed. ‘That just means you need me all the more.’ Katie cocked her head, and crouched down, grabbing his face and staring him in the eyes. ‘Nope, you seem fine. No signs of love potions.’
Love potions. He shuddered. Thankfully, Romilda’s just been watching the quidditch practice.
‘Thanks? I’m glad I seem fine to you.’ Harry poked her in the stomach. ‘You, however, seem dangerously close to being in my lap, Katie dearest, and in the interest of not getting immolated by a very jealous French witch…’
Katie glanced down and turned pink. ‘Right.’ She dropped into his lap, grinning and crossing her legs. ‘There, now you’ll be immolated, too.’
‘Off…’ Harry wrapped his hands around her thighs and pushed her into the seat next to him. ‘Be good, Katie darling,’ he murmured.
‘Sorry,’ she whispered. ‘I was only playing. I wasn’t—’
‘It’s fine. I know.’ Harry patted her on the head and mustered a grin. ‘But in repayment, you have to give me back my Firebolt.’
‘Nope.’ Katie clutched it to her breast. ‘Are you sure you wouldn’t rather I wriggle around in your lap for a few more minutes?’ She shot him a wicked grin. ‘I’ll let you see my bra.’
He snorted. ‘Is it finally made of seashells?’
‘No.’ She scrunched her face up. ‘That would probably be quite uncomfortable on my nipples and it would rattle when I stick coins in there. It’s made of silk. It’s quite a nice lacy black one, actually.’
‘All bras are expensive.’ Katie laughed. ‘You’ll find that out when you first try and buy Frenchie something exciting.’
‘I don’t think she’ll let me,’ Harry replied, chuckling. ‘Apparently, the only thing I have good taste in is girls.’
Katie giggled. ‘You’ve also got excellent taste in friends and broomsticks.’ She hopped up off the seat and snickered. ‘Oh look, guess who’s coming up to say hello.’
‘Please tell me it’s not Romilda Vane.’
‘It’s definitely Romilda Vane.’
‘Does she have anything that looks like a love potion?’ Harry asked.
‘No,’ Katie replied. ‘She’s wearing mittens, though. Black mittens. It’s like she can’t make her mind up if she wants to be cute or sexy. And her friends copy her, so they’ve all started wearing mittens, too.’
‘What’s sexy about mittens?’ Harry watched Romilda skip toward them through the empty seats. ‘It’s not even that cold.’
‘Nothing, the sexy is the black. The mittens are the cute bit.’ Katie wrinkled her nose. ‘Her whole outfit’s like it. Short skirt and cute little girl panties. Eyeshadow and cute little girl lip gloss. Sexy bra and cute little girl blouse, even if she never buttons it up to make sure nobody misses the bra.’
‘I’m not even going to ask how you know what Romilda’s underwear is like.’ Harry shook his head and grabbed his Firebolt as Romilda drew near. ‘Time to abandon ship.’ He swung a leg over the broom and kicked off, hovering just above the seats and holding out his arm. ‘Take my hand if you want to live.’
Katie laughed and hopped onto the broom behind him, sliding her arms around his waist. ‘Going to take me for a ride, Harry?’
‘Hush you.’ He corkscrewed backward off the stands and down to the far side of the quidditch pitch, tipping her off the back of the broom and onto the pine-needle strewn grass.
‘Ow.’ She hopped up and pouted at him. ‘That wasn’t a very long ride, Harry. I’m disappointed in you, you told me you’d learnt a few things…’
‘Not as disappointed as Romilda is.’ Harry watched her trudge back down the stairs. ‘She didn’t even get a ride at all.’
Katie giggled and stole his Firebolt. ‘What a lucky girl I am. Side-chick to the great Dark Lord Potter.’
He chuckled. ‘I think Gabby is technically the side-chick. You’re the side-girl.’
‘What? Why?’ Katie pouted. ‘I was here first!’
‘It’s a bird joke,’ Harry said. ‘Because they’re veela.’
‘Ahhhhh.’ She bounced on her toes. ‘Feathery girls are your kink, huh? Who’d’ve guessed?’
‘That is not at all true.’ Harry chuckled. ‘They’re kind of cute, though. She gets them when she’s mad.’
‘Wow…’ Katie shook her head. ‘Persistent.’
Harry groaned. ‘Fine. I should probably stop running away from a fourteen year old girl, it’s not a great look.’
‘But understandable. She is walking bait.’ Katie scrunched her face up. ‘The boyfriend she ditched was a Sixth Year and they were definitely doing stuff they shouldn’t have in broom closets.’
‘I would make a snide comment, but I have no ground to stand on,’ Harry replied. ‘Although, I did have a time-turner in Fourth year, so technically…’
‘Did Frenchie know?’ Katie asked.
‘Er… No.’ Harry shrugged. ‘Does that mean it doesn’t count?’
‘Not for Frenchie.’ She tracked Romilda’s progress across the field. ‘You’re probably in the clear, though.’
‘Excellent.’ Harry grinned. ‘Then I can visit Fleur in Azkaban instead of sharing a cell with her.’
Romilda strode right up to them and thrust her cupped mittens out. ‘Here.’
‘This better not be a love potion.’ Katie frowned and held out her palm. ‘Or anything like it. I will curse you if it is.’
Romilda opened her hands.
Bright, white opals glittered upon Katie’s palm.
She let out a soft gasp, crumpling to the grass. The Firebolt thudded to the ground and rolled across the pitch. A slim trickle of red crept from Katie’s ear, dripping from her earlobe into the dirt.
Katie lay on the green turf, still as stone. The opal necklace snaked up her arm beneath her sleeve, coiling around her throat. The world faded into the distance beyond her.
Harry’s heartbeat thundered in his ears and his breath caught.
He bent and touched a trembling hand to her cheek, tracing his shaking fingertips over cool skin as his heart sank down into a dark, numb place.
She’s not going to move.
Fury flared in his heart and his wand flashed cold as ice against his forearm. Black mist ripped through his sleeve, lancing across the pitch and shattering the empty stand, spraying splinters across the pitch.
They took her away from me. The chill of Harry’s wand burnt his skin. Hate clawed its way up inside, a furious swirling storm so sharp it ripped the breath from his lungs; it caught at the back of his throat, a raw soundless scream stretching on until the emptiness swallowed it.
Dark mist swirled around him like a blizzard, slicing through the grass of the pitch and scoring great gashes into the ground; it smashed through the proud quidditch hoops with a steely screech, sending jagged pieces crashing down around them.
A high scream tore at his ears.
Romilda. He forced the fury down and whirled about.
The dark mist scattered away like smoke into the breeze and his wand slipped into his fingers.
They took Katie away from me.
Harry dragged Romilda to her feet by the front of her blouse and caught her eye. ‘Legilimens.’ He smashed their thoughts together and let everything swirl into a single howling storm.
Katie giggled by the fire, her feet in his lap, beaming so bright from beneath her messy fringe his heart ached and tears prickled in his eyes. She slapped his wand from his hand so hard it stung his fingers and twirled in a green silk dress at the top of the stairs with a little sigh, her hand pressed to her heart. He lurked behind the door frame with a sour heat burning in his breast and a bitter taste curdling on his tongue. Her tears soaked into his shoulder as he reeled from her words, a small ball of cold settling on his heart. Katie soared above the stands, weaving through Slytherin’s chasers, and the crowd roared and stamped their feet. He stared up at her and clenched his fists, hate coiling in his breast.
He doesn’t even notice you, does he? Malfoy’s thin figure loomed from the shadows of a corridor. Don’t worry. He will. Imperio.
Harry ripped his thoughts free and dropped Romilda to the ground.
‘Perfect wishes,’ she whispered, curling up into a trembling ball. Her tears trickled down into the dirt. ‘Perfect wishes.’
‘They don’t come true.’ He stepped over her. ‘Someone always takes them away.’
Malfoy. Ice tightened in his chest; a fist of it crushed the breath from his lungs and tightened around his heart. And Dumbledore knew. He knew. Harry clawed for breath. Of course he knew. The less I have to live for, the more reason I have to die. He closed his eyes and felt the school close in over him, a great cage of stone and shadow. And he knows about Fleur.
‘Fleur.’ A fist of panic clamped about his throat.
He pictured the kitchen of the meadow and wrenched at the world, catching a flash of opals in the corner of his eye. His heart seized. Katie…
Harry stumbled across the kitchen floor with a great crack. Pain exploded in his left shoulder and blood spurted across the white tiles. His arm flopped beneath the table, fingers twitching.
‘Harry!’ Fleur threw herself out of her chair, snatching up his severed arm and her wand from her waist. ‘Merde.’
He clutched at his shoulder and closed his eyes as the searing agony crashed over him. It doesn’t hurt as much as tearing my soul. Harry forced his eyes open and watched the blood spray from between his fingers. The kitchen crept away into the distance, as if some invisible hand had dragged the world back from him. It’s just pain.
Fleur pulled his hand away from his shoulder and held his severed limb against the stump; blood drenched her arms to the elbow and spattered her face as she murmured beneath her breath.
The pain faded.
‘Check you can move your fingers properly,’ she ordered.
He clenched his hand into a fist, twisting and flexing his arm. ‘It’s fine.’
She wiped blood off her lips and cupped his cheek with a hot, damp hand. ‘What happened, mon Cœur? You splinched yourself.’
A dull, low ache gnawed away beneath Harry’s ribs and he slid down the cupboard to sit on the blood-smeared tiles. ‘They took away Katie,’ he whispered as hot tears began to blur on his lashes. ‘She’s gone.’
Fleur sat beside him and drew his head down into her embrace. ‘I’m sorry, mon Amour.’ She smoothed his hair and held him tight. ‘I’m sorry.’
Harry buried his face in her arms and squeezed his eyes shut, wrapping his arms ‘round her and clinging to her slim, warm waist. The faint scent of marzipan eased the ache in his breast and his ragged breathing slowed until sleep came to claim him.