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The life and secrets of Cassiopeia Dorea Lyra Potter

Chapter Text

Albus Dumbeledore was not amused, the usual twinkle in his eyes were missing. He was currently in the Headquarters, holding meeting with the Order. All because of Dolores Umbridge, after what could only be described as a dissasterus fifth year at Hogwarts this unpleasant lady was still creating many problems. A day ago he received an urgent call from the Ministry of Magic, they have somehow got a hold on five books, all about one and only -Cassiopeia Dorea Lyra Potter. At the end of the year when they have almost lost Sirius Black and he has almost lost the trust and respect of Cassi, Albus made a promise to her and he was intend to keep it. No more secrets, From now on they work together, from now on she won't be in the dark anymore. Dear Merlin, how much he had fought about those books.He didn't want it in the open and not because he himself made many mistakes, no. He was only human, he knew it. And well..people do terrible things and stupid mistakes when they love someone. Albus did love Cassiopeia. He got attached to her, Moody was right. The headmaster was trying to keep her out of the Order and that blasted prophecy because he saw her as his only family. Snape was right too, she truly was his favourite. No, the real reason was the girl herself. Cassiopeia was very private person. She needed time to open, to trust you and now all her life was going to be read to the entire bloody school and some Ministry workers including Cornelius, Umbridge and the new Minister himself. Yes, indeed Albus was not amused at all. He wasn't the only one.

-Albus, I must protest! The poor girl has enough pressure on her. Every year something happens. We cannot allow it!..-exclaimed an angry Minerva McGonagall.

Her statment was followed byMolly Weasley immediately.. -What are they thinking! Is it not enough that the entire year they were badmouthing her! Calling Cassi a crazy liar and brought her to the Wizengamot like a common criminal!..-Missis Weasley was read in the face with hands on her hips. Her husband was nodding in agreement and by the look of it wasn't pleased ether. Cassi was a family after all. Weasley protected family above all.

Dumbledore hold his hands up and sighed.. -I know and I do agree with you all. I spent all the day arguing about it,however Rufus believes that this is necessary. The Ministry is a mess. Dolores and Cornelius are not giving up.Right now the both of them decided to accuse myself and Cassiopeia in the lack of cooperation with the Ministry. According to Cornelius I did not give enough information and evidence in the matter of Voldemort return..

The room was silent for a moment and then as per usual the occupants started to shout and argue all over. Neither Sirius Black no Remus Lupin were thrilled with those events. Black wanted to storm the Ministry and Lupin's eyes were amber, he was growling. For the next twenty minutes the member of the Order were trying to find a way out of this mess.

-Enough!! All of you!--..Shouted an angry Mad-eye.. WE cannot do anything about it and Potter will understand. She won't like it, thats for sure, but think about it. Those books appeared to hold the truth. And the truth wee need, Merlin knows. It could help. It could prove the Ministry wrong, could even help you, Black! Your godchild needs you with her. You can't do much on the run. Your innocence was not proven yet. WE all could use it to our advantage and the girl won't be alone. Dolores wants an audience? Give it to her. WE all could come. We all would be there

-Wow, Mad-eye, you really do have a soft spot for Cassi, do you?..-joked Tonks.

Moody gave her a glare but said nothing. The silence was already an answer. Everyone in the Order new about his respect for the  Potter girl .Moody wanted to see her as a fellow auror.

Dumbledore looked thoughtful for a long while. Then he signed heavily and agreed with his old friend.

-I will be telling Cassiopeia, Mr Weasley and Miss Granger about those events myself. I would like them to be ready. After all their secrets will be announced in the Great Hall. He called his fellow companion and was gone from the room in the mere seconds.

 

The morning of October 13 was the day the Golden trio were dreading the most. It was the day of the first reading. The life and secrets of their friend and their own as well will be laid in the open .Ron and Hermione were doing they best in supporting Cass. The day Professor Dumbledore had informed them about this horrible plan was the day of the great argument. The trio did not believe it was possible to hate someone as much as they did Umbith. Cassiopeia was beside herself. Ron was torn between trying to make her smile and feeling angry himself. Mione was trying to find a legal way out of this situation while panicking.."Oh my, oh my!We will be kicked out of the school! We broke so many rules". Nothing helped of course. It was decided and The Ministry did not ask for their opinion. The only reason why Cass finally gave in was Sirius. She could finally have her godfather. He could finally be free. Then Ron surprised them both with another good reason..."Look, I am not happy about it myself. And I know you feel horrible, mate. But Mione, Nevill and I will be there. Just imagine If the truth come out..it will be hell to pay. The Ministry, Umbridge detentions. Sirius, Deatheaters and corruptions. Not to mention they will learn the ugly truth about Lord Lunatic". 

Cassiopeia could not argue with Ron. It would be useful. It could safe people, could change the path of many and it would bring justice.With the heavy heart she nodded. What else could they do? At least Headmaster had informed them that by reading those books the Ministry Officials were entering in magical contract. They would be forced to act on any illegal matters, bring justice and they could not take points, give detentions or expelled students. From the very moment of the first word of the book Lady Magic herself will be the judge. Well, it did make them feel better. Those poor bastards have no idea what will hit them.
Collecting their famous Gryffindor courage the trio went to the Great Hall. It was full. The students didn't understand what was going on. There are so many newcomers! They were holding their breath.
Cassiopeia saw Moony with the black dog, Moody, the Weasley, Tonks with both of her parents, the entire Order. It made her feel batter. They all where here for them. They won't be alone. Those people came because they cared, with her head up she went to their usual seat at the table. Nev was already there waiting for them. He gave her a gentle smile. Ron took one of her hands while Mia took the other. They were in this together, just like always.

Dumbledore rose up from his place at the Staff table, the Hall was silent at ones.

-My dear students, today I have an important and unusual announcement. As you can see we have many Ministry workers here today,alongside some very dear guests. A few days ago I was informed that Madam Umbridge (here most of the students muttered and made faces) had requested that we read five books all about the life of our Miss Potter. I understand that many of you can find it strange and confusing. I would like to inform you all that this was not my decision and I do not support it in any way. However, the Ministry decided otherwise. Miss Potter was not inform until the very last moment of it. I would like to ask you all to do not make it more difficult for her. Please show respect and compassion.
Also during this readings no points or detentions would be given for the past actions. However, should we find out that some students were involved in any bulling activities than your Head of the House and myself will discuss it and come up with the way for you to answer for it. Also, The Ministry did not know this, but this very day I was given an interesting piece of information by our Unspeakable department, here Dumbledore looked like his usual self, with twinkle in his eyes, by reading those books Madam Umbridge, The Minister and their officials all entered in the Magical contract. Lady Magic will serve as a judge. Should any injustice or illegal and harmful activities appeared, we all will act on it. Otherwise Magic herself will punish the responsible ones. Good day, Hogwarts.

At the Staff table Minerva was smirking, she couldn't wait for it. Her lions would get their revenge. This horrible Umbridge finally will be getting some punishments.
The women in question looked like she swallowed a fly. She did not know about the contract. How dare! Those liars! Soon she will be back in her position of power and good grace. Soon everyone will know that the brat is a liar and the old man is crazy.
Next to her Fudge was pale, Rufus on the other hand thought that everything was in order. If some members of his Staff did something illegal..help them Merlin. He was not another Fudge. He was not an idiot. Rufus understood that in this war he needed both Dumbledore and Cassiopeia Potter.
Amelia Bons, who was seating beside Professor Flitwick was happy.In fact she looked like all the holidays came earlier. Amelia couldn't wait, oh she was so going to arrest this pink toad (as Susan called her).

-Well, I thank you Albus, for informing all of us about the contract. If the Magic herself demand it I could not and would not argue. As a matter of fact I do agree with everything you have said...-Minister announced. He stood up and took the first book..-This book called "Cassiopeia Potter and the Philosopher's stone". I believe I should read the first chapter. Is it fine with you all?
-Please Rufus, do.-answered Dumbledore sternly. He was glad it was not Dolores. Albus had a pretty good idea that the Potters and their death would be mentioned,he did not want to see this horrible and cold satisfaction in her face. Rufus at least has honour and enough compassion.

And it all begin..

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 2.The girl who lived.

 

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.

-"You are not welcome. Not welcome at all"..moaned Fred.

Cassiopeia send him a smile. She new the twins will do anything to annoy the toad. Thats mean a lot of rude comments.

They were the last people you'd expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn't hold with such nonsense.

-"What do they mean?" What nonsense"..-asked a confused first year Gryffindor.

-"I am sure the book will explain"..answered Cassi gently. 

Mr. Dursley was the director of a firm called Grunnings, which made drills. He was a big, beefy man with hardly any neck, although he did have a very large mustache. Mrs. Dursley was thin and blonde and had nearly twice the usual amount of neck, which came in very useful as she spent so much of her time craning over garden fences, spying on the neighbors.

Shape grimaced at this. Seems like she hasn't change at all. He thought to himself. He did not want to be here and read about the brat. Like she needed more for her ego. Like a father... 

The Dursleys had a small son called Dudley and in their opinion there was no finer boy anywhere.

At this Cassiopeia snorted, Gred and Forge laughed. Even Mister Weasley chuckled. 

People looked strange at Cassi, so she answered.."-Well, lets just say that he is anything but small..."

"And he is a bloody brat"..couldnt resist Ron. 

Before his mother could say anything about his chosen language, the Minister continued the story.

The Dursleys had everything they wanted, but they also had a secret, and their greatest fear was that somebody would discover it. They didn't think they could bear it if anyone found out about the Potters.

 

One, two, three and the hell broke.

-There is absolitely nothing wrong with the Potters, shouted the majority!

-"James and Lily were wonderful people!"..-Remus was one of the loudest.

Cassiopeia just shook her head.She just hoped her home life would not be mentioned, She never told Ron and Mione. And sure as hell she did not tell Sirius and Remus.She was afraid they would end up in Azkaban.

Mrs. Potter was Mrs. Dursley's sister, but they hadn't met for several years; in fact, Mrs. Dursley pretended she didn't have a sister,

-"What the hell..??"- Shouted an angry Neville. Everyone looked surprised at him. This was so not his usual behaviour...-"Lily Potter was my godmother"..he explained. 

The Staff were all read in their faces. Minerva had a horrible feeling. She should have tried harder. What if their didn't care for Cassi at all? What if their were cruel? She sent a glare to Albus. He was in trouble.

because her sister and her good-for-nothing husband were as unDursleyish.. 

-" Not even a word, you damn people!"..-exclaimed Professor Flitwick, his house all nodded in agreement.

as it was possible to be. The Dursleys shuddered to think what the neighbors would say if the Potters arrived in the street. The Dursleys knew that the Potters had a small son, too, but they had never even seen him. This boy was another good reason for keeping the Potters away; they didn't want Dudley mixing with a child like that.

"-What does it mean?! How dare they!! Cassiopeia is one of the sweetest person I have ever met!..-Molly Weasley looked like overprotective tiger, her eyes narrowed. Her husband was read, for a Weasley iy was a sign of anger coming out.

Ron clenched his fists.His face red just like Molly's. If only he could do magic outside of the school..

When Mr. and Mrs. Dursley woke up on the dull, gray Tuesday our story starts, there was nothing about the cloudy sky outside to suggest that strange and mysterious things would soon be happening all over the country. Mr. Dursley hummed as he picked out his most boring tie for work, and Mrs. Dursley gossiped away happily as she wrestled a screaming Dudley into his high chair.

None of them noticed a large, tawny owl flutter past the window.

At half past eight, Mr. Dursley picked up his briefcase, pecked Mrs. Dursley on the cheek, and tried to kiss Dudley good-bye but missed, because Dudley was now having a tantrum and throwing his cereal at the walls.

"-Well, that settled then,..said an angry Remus,..-I am sure your parents wouldn't want YOU to mix with the child like THAT.

-Couldn't agree more, Remus"..-said Professor Sprout.

Little tyke," chortled Mr. Dursley as he left the house. He got into his car and backed out of number four's drive.

-"This is horrible parenting skills"..-Amelia commented. 

It was on the corner of the street that he noticed the first sign of something peculiar — a cat reading a map.

For a second, Mr. Dursley didn't realize what he had seen — then he jerked his head around to look again. There was a tabby cat standing on the corner of Privet Drive, but there wasn't a map in sight. What could he have been thinking of? It must have been a trick of the light. Mr. Dursley blinked and stared at the cat. It stared back. As Mr. Dursley drove around the corner and up the road, he watched the cat in his mirror. It was now reading the sign that said Privet Drive — no, looking at the sign; cats couldn't read maps or signs.

 

-"Mamma lion Min"..muttered Cassi to Ron. However, everyone heard her.

Remus snorted and was trying to do his best and not to laugh.

Fred and George couldn't help themselves. 

-My,my dear Cassi, old girl..said Fred..

-That was good on. Mamma lion Min-Min..

-WEASLEY!!!..enough!!..Minerva was looking sharply, but was secretly pleased. She did love her lions. They were her children. 

Mr. Dursley gave himself a little shake and put the cat out of his mind. As he drove toward town he thought of nothing except a large order of drills he was hoping to get that day.

But on the edge of town, drills were driven out of his mind by something else. As he sat in the usual morning traffic jam, he couldn't help noticing that there seemed to be a lot of strangely dressed people about. People in cloaks.

Mr. Dursley couldn't bear people who dressed in funny clothes — the getups you saw on young people! He supposed this was some stupid new fashion.

"-There is nothing wrong with our fashion, you stupid muggle" -snorted Pansy at the Slytherin table. The nerve oh him! 

"-Parkinson, Muggles do not wear cloaks anymore. - replied  Dean Thomas, he was clearly annoyed. 

He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel and his eyes fell on a huddle of these weirdoes standing quite close by. They were whispering excitedly together.

Mr. Dursley was enraged to see that a couple of them weren't young at all; why, that man had to be older than he was, and wearing an emerald-green cloak! The nerve of him! But then it struck Mr. Dursley that this was probably some silly stunt —these people were obviously collecting for something… yes, that would be it.

The traffic moved on and a few minutes later, Mr. Dursley arrived in the Grunnings parking lot, his mind back on drills.

Mr. Dursley always sat with his back to the window in his office on the ninth floor. If he hadn't, he might have found it harder to concentrate on drills that morning. He didn't see the owls swooping past in broad daylight, though people down in the street did; they pointed and gazed open-mouthed as owl after owl sped overhead.

Most of them had never seen an owl even at nighttime. Mr. Dursley, however, had a perfectly normal, owl-free morning. He yelled at five different people. He made several important telephone calls and shouted a bit more.

-Mmm, I am sorry,Cass, but he doesn't seems like a nice person, muttered Colin Creevey. He didn't like those people and couldn't imagine THE Cassiopeia Potter with them.

-Dont worry, Colin, he really is not.-commented the girl.

He was in a very good mood until lunchtime, when he thought he'd stretch his legs and walk across the road to buy himself a bun from the bakery.

-Well, that's something. I mean, he did walk after all.-said Cassiopeia. She really didmd want to read about her "relatives". 

He'd forgotten all about the people in cloaks until he passed a group of them next to the baker's. He eyed them angrily as he passed. He didn't know why, but they made him uneasy.

This bunch were whispering excitedly, too, and he couldn't see a single collecting tin. It was on his way back past them, clutching a large doughnut in a bag, that he caught a few words of what they were saying.

"The Potters, that's right, that's what I heard —"

" — yes, their girl, Cassiopeia —"

Mr. Dursley stopped dead.

Before the Weasley twins could say something, Ron muttered load enough for the hall to hear...-Pity, he didn't really.

Cassiopeia gave him a warm smile and Neville grinned. The rest of the Gryffindor house were feeling worry. How bad was it with those muggles?

Fear flooded him. He looked back at the whisperers as if he wanted to say something to them, but thought better of it.

He dashed back across the road, hurried up to his office, snapped at his secretary not to disturb him, seized his telephone,

and had almost finished dialing his home number when he changed his mind. He put the receiver back down and stroked his mustache, thinking… no, he was being stupid.

Potter wasn't such an unusual name. He was sure there were lots of people called Potter who had a son called Harry. Come to think of it, he wasn't even sure his niece  was called Cassiopeia.

"They don't even know you name?"..Exclaimed an angry Mister Weasley. Honestly, how dare those people! He was loosing his usual calmnes be now.

-Em, Its fine, Mister Weasley, really.They do now..Commented Cassiopeia.

Apparently it didn't make anyone feel any better. Her friends and family were ready to curse those damn muggles. 

He'd never even seen the girl. It might have been Cassandra. Or Carolina.

-Cassandra?? What the hell! You have a beautiful name, my dear. It is our family tradition after all..commented disturbed Andromeda Tonks.

Slytherins looked curious. THE Black family? What does it mean?

Draco Malfoy did not like it one bit. He recently discovered that he was not Heir Black..could it be? No, he was being stupid. As if..

There was no point in worrying Mrs. Dursley; she always got so upset at any mention of her sister. He didn't blame her — if he'd had a sister like that…

-There is nothing wrong with Lily!! She was and still is my best student!!..Professor Flitwick did not look happy. As a matter of fact we was furious. 

He found it a lot harder to concentrate on drills that afternoon and when he left the building at five o'clock, he was still so worried that he walked straight into someone just outside the door.

"Sorry," he grunted, as the tiny old man stumbled and almost fell. It was a few seconds before Mr. Dursley realized that the man was wearing a violet cloak. He didn't seem at all upset at being almost knocked to the ground. On the contrary, his face split into a wide smile and he said in a squeaky voice that made passersby stare, "Don't be sorry, my dear sir, for nothing could upset me today! Rejoice, for You-Know-Who has gone at last!

Even Muggles like yourself should be celebrating, this happy, happy day!"

-Dear Merlin! Could we be more obvious. It is a miracle we weren't discovered..said the Minister.

 

Mr. Dursley stood rooted to the spot. He had been hugged by a complete stranger. He also thought he had been called a Muggle, whatever that was. He was rattled. He hurried to his car and set off for home, hoping he was imagining things, which he had never hoped before, because he didn't approve of imagination.

As he pulled into the driveway of number four, the first thing he saw—and it didn't improve his mood — was the tabby cat he'd spotted that morning.

It was now sitting on his garden wall. He was sure it was the same one; it had the same markings around its eyes.

"Shoo!" said Mr. Dursley loudly.

-Pff, as if..started Ron

-This could..continued Hermione 

-work on Mamma Lion...finished Cassi

Students couldn't hold it. They were laughing so hard.

-Oi,Fred, we did it!..joked George.

-You know, I think you are right. We have corrupted the Golden Trio!!..finished Fred.

-Enough both of you!!..Missis Weasley wasn't pleased. Nether was Minerva.

The cat didn't move. It just gave him a stern look.

-Yeppp, it is McGonagall after all...smirked Lee 

-Mister Gordan!!!!...McGonagall shouted.

-Sorry, sorry, Professor. 

Was this normal cat behavior? Mr. Dursley wondered. Trying to pull himself together, he let himself into the house. He was still determined not to mention anything to his wife.

-Weel, I am not sure about cats..but it is normal Mini behaviour..started Fred

-Mister Weasley, do I need to remind you that I am in the room?..asked the Head of Gryffindor House.

Fred just gave her his usual smirk.

Mrs. Dursley had had a nice, normal day. She told him over dinner all about Mrs. Next Door's problems with her daughter and how Dudley had learned a new word -("Won't!").

-And this is something to be proud of?! I can't believe them!!..Molly was beside herself by now. Honestly, how her sweet little Cassi could grow up such a good girl was a mistery to her.

Mr. Dursley tried to act normally. When Dudley had been put to bed, he went into the living room in time to catch the last report on the evening news:

"And finally, bird-watchers everywhere have reported that the nation's owls have been behaving very unusually today. Although owls normally hunt at night and are hardly ever seen in daylight, there have been hundreds of sightings of these birds flying in every direction since sunrise. Experts are unable to explain why the owls have suddenly changed their sleeping pattern." The newscaster allowed himself a grin. "Most mysterious. And now, over to Jim McGuffin with the weather. Going to be any more showers of owls tonight, Jim?"

"Well, Ted,"

-Was it you, uncle Ted..asked Cassi timidly.

Ted Tonks smile at her and nodded his head.

said the weatherman, "I don't know about that, but it's not only the owls that have been acting oddly today. Viewers as far apart as Kent, Yorkshire, and Dundee have been phoning in to tell me that instead of the rain I promised yesterday, they've had a downpour of shooting stars! Perhaps people have been celebrating Bonfire Night early — it's not until next week, folks! But I can promise a wet night tonight."

Mr. Dursley sat frozen in his armchair. Shooting stars all over Britain? Owls flying by daylight? Mysterious people in cloaks all over the place? And a whisper, a whisper about the Potters…

"I think he should get it by now.".someone muttered 

Mrs. Dursley came into the living room carrying two cups of tea. It was no good. He'd have to say something to her. He cleared his throat nervously. "Er — Petunia, dear — you haven't heard from your sister lately, have you?"

As he had expected, Mrs. Dursley looked shocked and angry. After all, they normally pretended she didn't have a sister.

"Well that's horrible." Said Luna

"No," she said sharply. "Why?"

"Funny stuff on the news," Mr. Dursley mumbled. "Owls… shooting stars… and there were a lot of funny-looking people in town today…"

"So?" snapped Mrs. Dursley.

"Well, I just thought… maybe… it was something to do with… you know… her crowd."

"Our crowd, OUR CROWD?"

Mrs. Dursley sipped her tea through pursed lips. Mr. Dursley wondered whether he dared tell her he'd heard the name "Potter." He decided he didn't dare. Instead he said, as casually as he could, "Their daughter — she'd be about Dudley's age now, wouldn't she?"

"I suppose so," said Mrs. Dursley stiffly.

"What's her name again? Cassandra, isn't it?"

"Cassiopeia Nasty, common,freakish name, if you ask me."

Several people growled at that.

-How is it common exactly? I do not believe many muggle have such a name..Andromeda was muttering

Professor Lupin did look like a wolf, with his eyes amber, mouth set in grimace and his dog growled.

"Oh, yes," said Mr. Dursley, his heart sinking horribly. "Yes, I quite agree."

-Oi, for the love of Merlin grow some balls..muttered Bill Weasley. He was getting very annoyed at them. Maybe himself and his brothers should pay a little visit to the Dursley.

He didn't say another word on the subject as they went upstairs to bed. While Mrs. Dursley was in the bathroom, Mr. Dursley crept to the bedroom window and peered down into the front garden. The cat was still there. It was staring down Privet Drive as though it were waiting for something.

Was he imagining things? Could all this have anything to do with the Potters? If it did… if it got out that they were related to a pair of — well, he didn't think he could bear it.

-What?? I would be honoured if we were related..exclaimed Dennis Creevey.

The Dursleys got into bed. Mrs. Dursley fell asleep quickly but Mr. Dursley lay awake, turning it all over in his mind. His last, comforting thought before he fell asleep was that even if the Potters were involved, there was no reason for them to come near him and Mrs. Dursley. The Potters knew very well what he and Petunia thought about them and their kind… He couldn't see how he and Petunia could get mixed up in anything that might be going on — he yawned and turned over — it couldn't affect them

How very wrong he was.

Mr. Dursley might have been drifting into an uneasy sleep, but the cat on the wall outside was showing no sign of sleepiness. It was sitting as still as a statue, its eyes fixed unblinkingly on the far corner of Privet Drive. It didn't so much as quiver when a car door slammed on the next street, nor when two owls swooped overhead. In fact, it was nearly midnight before the cat moved at all."

A man appeared on the corner the cat had been watching, appeared so suddenly and silently you'd have thought he'd just popped out of the ground. The cat's tail twitched and its eyes narrowed.

Nothing like this man had ever been seen on Privet Drive. He was tall, thin, and very old, judging by the silver of his hair and beard, which were both long enough to tuck into his belt. He was wearing long robes, a purple cloak that swept the ground, and high-heeled, buckled boots. His blue eyes were light, bright, and sparkling behind half-moon spectacles and his nose was very long and crooked, as though it had been broken at least twice. This man's name was Albus Dumbledore.

Albus Dumbledore didn't seem to realize that he had just arrived in a street where everything from his name to his boots was unwelcome. He was busy rummaging in his cloak, looking for something. But he did seem to realize he was being watched, because he looked up suddenly at the cat, which was still staring at him from the other end of the street. For some reason, the sight of the cat seemed to amuse him. He chuckled and muttered, "I should have known."

He found what he was looking for in his inside pocket. It seemed to be a silver cigarette lighter.

Gred and Forge started to fake gasps.."You should not smoke, Professor"

He flicked it open, held it up in the air, and clicked it. The nearest street lamp went out with a little pop.

He clicked it again — the next lamp flickered into darkness. Twelve times he clicked the Put-Outer, until the only lights left on the whole street were two tiny pinpricks in the distance, which were the eyes of the cat watching him. If anyone looked out of their window now, even beady-eyed Mrs. Dursley, they wouldn't be able to see anything that was happening down on the pavement. Dumbledore slipped the Put-Outer back inside his cloak and set off down the street toward number four, where he sat down on the wall next to the cat. He didn't look at it, but after a moment he spoke to it.

"Fancy seeing you here, Professor McGonagall."

"Yes! I told you, I told you!..shouted George..

-Dear Salazar, no-one disagreed with you, Weasley..said Zabini, but his tone wasn't unfreindly or cruel.

He turned to smile at the tabby, but it had gone. Instead he was smiling at a rather severe-looking woman who was wearing square glasses exactly the shape of the markings the cat had had around its eyes. She, too, was wearing a cloak, an emerald one. Her black hair was drawn into a tight bun. She looked distinctly ruffled. "How did you know it was me?" she asked.

"My dear Professor, I've never seen a cat sit so stiffly."

"You'd be stiff if you'd been sitting on a brick wall all day," said Professor McGonagall.

"All day? When you could have been celebrating? I must have passed a dozen feasts and parties on my way here."

Professor McGonagall sniffed angrily.

"Oh yes, everyone's celebrating, all right," she said impatiently. "You'd think they'd be a bit more careful, but no — even the Muggles have noticed something's going on. It was on their news."

She jerked her head back at the Dursleys' dark living-room window. "I heard it. Flocks of owls… shooting stars… Well, they're not completely stupid. They were bound to notice something. Shooting stars down in Kent — I'll bet that was Dedalus Diggle. He never had much sense."

"You can't blame them," said Dumbledore gently. "We've had precious little to celebrate for eleven years."

"I know that," said Professor McGonagall irritably. "But that's no reason to lose our heads. People are being downright careless, out on the streets in broad daylight, not even dressed in Muggle clothes, swapping rumors."

She threw a sharp, sideways glance at Dumbledore here, as though hoping he was going to tell her something, but he didn't, so she went on. "A fine thing it would be if, on the very day You-Know-Who seems to have disappeared at last, the Muggles found out about us all. I suppose he really has gone, Dumbledore?"

"It certainly seems so," said Dumbledore.

"We have much to be thankful for. Would you care for a lemon drop?"

"A what?"

"A lemon drop. They're a kind of Muggle sweet I'm rather fond of.

"Of course you are sir." Said Cassiopeia dreamy. I really would like one now.

Dumbledore smiled happily and passed her a little bag with some lemon drops in it.

While the teachers all looked fondly at both. Sometimes they were too much alike.

"No, thank you," said Professor McGonagall coldly, as though she didn't think this was the moment for lemon drops. "As I say, even if You-Know-Who has gone —"

"My dear Professor, surely a sensible person like yourself can call him by his name? All this 'You-Know-Who' nonsense — for eleven years I have been trying to persuade people to call him by his proper name: Voldemort."

Everyone except Cassiopeia,Dumbledore, Remus, Moody and surprisedly Bill flinched.

Professor McGonagall flinched, but Dumbledore, who was unsticking two lemon drops, seemed not to notice. "It all gets so confusing if we keep saying 'You-Know-Who.' I have never seen any reason to be frightened of saying Voldemort's name." "I know you haven't," said Professor McGonagall, sounding half exasperated, half admiring. "But you're different. Everyone knows you're the only one You-Know- oh, all right, Voldemort , was frightened of."

"You flatter me," said Dumbledore calmly. "Voldemort had powers I will never have."

"Only because you're too — well —noble to use them."

"It's lucky it's dark. I haven't blushed so much since Madam Pomfrey told me she liked my new earmuffs."

There was a lot of chuckling.

Professor McGonagall shot a sharp look at Dumbledore and said, "The owls are nothing next to the rumors that are flying around. You know what they're saying? About why he's disappeared? About what finally stopped him?"

It seemed that Professor McGonagall had reached the point she was most anxious to discuss, the real reason she had been waiting on a cold, hard wall all day, for neither as a cat nor as a woman had she fixed Dumbledore with such a piercing stare as she did now. It was plain that whatever "everyone" was saying, she was not going to believe it until Dumbledore told her it was true. Dumbledore, however, was choosing another lemon drop and did not answer.

"What they're saying," she pressed on, "is that last night Voldemort turned up in Godric's Hollow. He went to find the Potters.

Ron squeezed her hand in support. Hermione gave her one arm hug.

The rumor is that Lily and James Potter are — are — that they're — dead ."

Cassiopeia did not look down. Her face was blank. 

Dumbledore bowed his head. Professor McGonagall gasped.

"Lily and James… I can't believe it… I didn't want to believe it… Oh, Albus…"

Dumbledore reached out and patted her on the shoulder. "I know… I know…" he said heavily.

Professor McGonagall's voice trembled as she went on. "That's not all. They're saying he tried to kill the Potter's daughter, Cassi.

But he couldn't. He couldn't kill that little girl. No one knows why, or how, but they're saying that when he couldn't kill Cassiopeia Potter, Voldemort's power somehow broke — and that's why he's gone."

Dumbledore nodded glumly.

"It's — it's true?" faltered Professor McGonagall. "After all he's done… all the people he's killed… he couldn't kill a little girl? It's just astounding… of all the things to stop him… but how in the name of heaven did little Cassi survive?"

"We all would like to know!" muttered a seven year Slytherin. However, after the glares he recieved from Potter's friends, he did not dare to press the issue.

"We can only guess." said Dumbledore. "We may never know."

-I bet the old fool knows..mutered Draco Malfoy.

Zabini and Nott desperetly wanted to make him stop talking. The brat was annoying as hell.

Some older Slytherins like Adrian Pucey frowned at him. This boy was foolish and arrogant. He didn't understand how he make it in Slytherin. 

Professor McGonagall pulled out a lace handkerchief and dabbed at her eyes beneath her spectacles. Dumbledore gave a great sniff as he took a golden watch from his pocket and examined it. It was a very odd watch. It had twelve hands but no numbers; instead, little planets were moving around the edge. It must have made sense to Dumbledore, though, because he put it back in his pocket and said, "Hagrid's late. I suppose it was he who told you I'd be here, by the way?"

"Yes," said Professor McGonagall. "And I don't suppose you're going to tell me why you're here, of all places?"

"I've come to bring Cassiopeia to her aunt and uncle. They're the only family she has left now."

-WHAT??? You are kidding me!..the Hall exploded.

-They are absolutely horrible..Susan Bones couldn't believe her Headmaster. She knew her ant would take Cassiopeia without questions.

-They are not her only family!..shouted Andromeda..I was ready to take her, you know that. I was fighting for it!

Dumbledore sighed heavily..-I know, I know Andromeda. But you know why we couldn't. Lucius Malfoy was pressing for custody. In that moment I was not aware about your situation and close relations. We only knew that you were related through Dorea Black Potter. And if Lucius won..well, we know it would not be good.

-I agree..said Cassiopeia loudly. I mean, I would love to live with you, Andy and I did not enjoy living with them one bit. However, between Malfoy and them..

-There is nothing wrong with Lucius Malfoy! It all lies. He was framed..shouted Umbridge.

The Minister silenced her with one look. He knew that Malfoy was a good for nothing criminal, all right.

The conversation between Andromeda and Dumbledore rose more questions. What close relations she had with Cassiopeia? What are they talking about. Before anyone could ask, Rufus continued with the book.

"You don't mean – you can't mean the people who live here?" cried Professor McGonagall, jumping to her feet and pointing at number four. "Dumbledore — you can't. I've been watching them all day. You couldn't find two people who are less like us. And they've got this son — I saw him kicking his mother all the way up the street, screaming for sweets. Cassiopeia Potter come and live here!"

-Agreed..muttered Remus. How he wanted to rise her. But of course..being who he was..

Even Severus Snape couldn't argue with that. He knew those Dursley all right. Tuney hated her sister.

"It's the best place for her," said Dumbledore firmly. "Her aunt and uncle will be able to explain everything to her when she's older. I've written them a letter."

-A LETTER!?..cried Hermione..Honestly? I thought better of you Headmaster! I can't believe it.

By now the entire school was looking schoked at her. Hermione Granger shouting at Albus Dumbledore? What is next..attacking a teacher? 

"A letter?" repeated Professor McGonagall faintly, sitting back down on the wall. "Really, Dumbledore, you think you can explain all this in a letter?

These people will never understand her! She'll be famous — a legend — I wouldn't be surprised if today was known as Cassiopeia Potter day in the future — there will be books written about Harry — every child in our world will know his name!"

-Dear Godric, please tell me there is not such a day..asked scared Cassi.

Dumbledore chuckled a bit..No,my dear girl. There is not. Not that many didn't try.

Snape raised an eyebrow. She didn't like her fame? She didn't want it? Impossible! It wasn't like Potter at all. She couldn't be different, she couldn't be Lily. Severus refused to acknowledge it.

"Exactly." said Dumbledore, looking very seriously over the top of his half-moon glasses. "It would be enough to turn any girl's head. Famous before she can walk and talk! Famous for something sh won't even remember! Can you see how much better off she'll be, growing up away from all that until she's ready to take it?"

Professor McGonagall opened her mouth, changed her mind, swallowed, and then said, "Yes — yes, you're right, of course. But how is the girl getting here, Dumbledore?" She eyed his cloak suddenly as though she thought he might be hiding Harry underneath it.

-You better not, Albus..Molly was still were upset about Cassiopeia's placement.

"Hagrid's bringing her."

"You think it —wise — to trust Hagrid with something as important as this?"

"I would trust Hagrid with my life," said Dumbledore.

-Agreed..exclaimed the Golden Trio.

Hagrid was read in the face but the giant smile was enough to let you know how proud he was.

"I'm not saying his heart isn't in the right place," said Professor McGonagall grudgingly, "but you can't pretend he's not careless. He does tend to — what was that?"

A low rumbling sound had broken the silence around them. It grew steadily louder as they looked up and down the street for some sign of a headlight; it swelled to a roar as they both looked up at the sky — and a huge motorcycle fell out of the air and landed on the road in front of them.

If the motorcycle was huge, it was nothing to the man sitting astride it. He was almost twice as tall as a normal man and at least five times as wide. He looked simply too big to be allowed, and so wild — long tangles of bushy black hair and beard hid most of his face, he had hands the size of trash can lids, and his feet in their leather boots were like baby dolphins. In his vast, muscular arms he was holding a bundle of blankets.

"Awww." Said many students and teachers, and Cassi blushed.

Remus heart felt, he knew Sirius wasn't feeling any better himself. It was them..they supposed to take care of her. To love their sweet little girl.

"Hagrid," said Dumbledore, sounding relieved. "At last. And where did you get that motorcycle?"

"Borrowed it, Professor Dumbledore, sir," said the giant, climbing carefully off the motorcycle as he spoke. "Young Sirius Black lent it to me. I've got her, sir."

"No problems, were there?"

"No, sir — house was almost destroyed, but I got her out all right before the Muggles started swarmin' around. She fell asleep as we was flyin' over Bristol."

Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall bent forward over the bundle of blankets. Inside, just visible, was a baby girl, fast asleep. Under a tuft of jet-black hair over her forehead they could see a curiously shaped small cut, like a bolt of lightning.

"Is that where —?" whispered Professor McGonagall.

"Yes," said Dumbledore. "She'll have that scar forever."

"Couldn't you do something about it, Dumbledore?"

"Even if I could, I wouldn't. Scars can come in handy. I have one myself above my left knee that is a perfect map of the London Underground. Well — give her here, Hagrid — we'd better get this over with."

Dumbledore took Cassi in his arms, his heart heavy and turned toward the Dursleys' house.

"Could I — could I say good-bye to her, sir?" asked Hagrid. He bent his great, shaggy head over Cassiopeia and gave her what must have been a very scratchy, whiskery kiss. Then, suddenly, Hagrid let out a howl like a wounded dog.

-Love you too, Hagrid..said Cassi.

The smile on Hagrid's face seems to be permanent and could blind the school.

"Shhh!" hissed Professor McGonagall, "You'll wake the Muggles!"

"S-s-sorry," sobbed Hagrid, taking out a large, spotted handkerchief and burying his face in it. "But I c-c-can't stand it —Lily an' James dead — an' poor little Cassi off ter live with Muggles —"

"Yes, yes, it's all very sad, but get a grip on yourself, Hagrid, or we'll be found," Professor McGonagall whispered, patting Hagrid gingerly on the arm as Dumbledore stepped over the low garden wall and walked to the front door. He laid Cassi gently on the doorstep, took a letter out of his cloak, tucked it inside Cassiopia's blankets, and then came back to the other two.

-YOU DID WHAT???..DOORSTEPS??..Mister Weasley finally lost it!! WE are going to have a long talk. Do you have a common sense at all?!

His wife was without words for once, but it didn't seems like a good sign. She was gasping like a fish but the fury in her eyes...

For a full minute the three of them stood and looked at the little bundle; Hagrid's shoulders shook, Professor McGonagall blinked furiously, and the twinkling light that usually shone from Dumbledore's eyes seemed to have gone out.

"Well," said Dumbledore finally, "that's that. We've no business staying here. We may as well go and join the celebrations."

"Yeah," said Hagrid in a very muffled voice, "I best get this bike away. G'night, Professor McGonagall — Professor Dumbledore, sir."

Wiping his streaming eyes on his jacket sleeve, Hagrid swung himself onto the motorcycle and kicked the engine into life; with a roar it rose into the air and off into the night.

"I shall see you soon, I expect, Professor McGonagall," said Dumbledore, nodding to her. Professor McGonagall blew her nose in reply.

Dumbledore turned and walked back down the street. On the corner he stopped and took out the silver Put-Outer. He clicked it once, and twelve balls of light sped back to their street lamps so that Privet Drive glowed suddenly orange and he could make out a tabby cat slinking around the corner at the other end of the street. He could just see the bundle of blankets on the step of number four.

"Good luck, Cassi," he murmured. He turned on his heel and with a swish of his cloak, he was gone.

A breeze ruffled the neat hedges of Privet Drive, which lay silent and tidy under the inky sky, the very last place you would expect astonishing things to happen. Cassiopeia Potter rolled over inside her blankets without waking up. One small hand closed on the letter beside her and she slept on, not knowing she was special, not knowing she was famous, not knowing she would be woken in a few hours' time by Mrs. Dursley's scream as she opened the front door to put out the milk bottles, nor that she would spend the next few weeks being prodded and pinched by her cousin Dudley… SHe couldn't know that at this very moment, people meeting in secret all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: "To Cassiopeia Potter — the girl who lived!"

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 3.

"Who would like to read the second chapter"..asked Rufus. 

"I will, if that fine?"..answered Professor Flitwick. 

When he received no objections, he took the book and open it,

                                                                                                             The Vanishing Glass,"

 

Cassiopeia groaned. This bloody book did not skip her home life. She didn't want pity, she didn't want it to be in the open. Well, Snape and Malfoy would be happy.

Ron and Hermione exchanged worried glances. Cass never really talked about her relatives, but Ron have seen how horrible they were twice. Second year and forth, it couldn't be worse, right? Because if it was...well, Dursley better run..

Nearly ten years had passed since the Dursleys had woken up to find their niece on the front step, but Privet Drive had hardly changed at all. The sun rose on the same tidy front gardens and lit up the brass number four on the Dursleys' front door; it crept into their living room, which was almost exactly the same as it had been on the night when Mr. Dursley had seen that fateful news report about the owls. Only the photographs on the mantelpiece really showed how much time had passed. Ten years ago, there had been lots of pictures of what looked like a large pink beach ball wearing different-coloured bonnets

"A pink beach ball? How attractive said Ginny.

but Dudley Dursley was no longer a baby, and now the photographs showed a large blond boy riding his first bicycle, on a carousel at the fair, playing a computer game with his father, being hugged and kissed by his mother. The room held no sign at all that another child lived in the house, too.

"Please say you aren't there!" Seamus whispered.

-I wish I could, Seamus, I wish I could.

Seamus looked worried, his best friend Dean Thomas didn't like the sound of that ether. They both cared for Cassiopeia. She was the type of friend you wish you had.

Yet Cassiopeia Potter was still there

"Holly shit"..exclaimed Gryffindor table.

The teachers were so worried that they didn't even bother to correct them.

, asleep at the moment, but not for long. Her Aunt Petunia was awake and it was her shrill voice that made the first noise of the day.

"Up! Get up! Now!"

"That's not a very nice thing to wake up to in the morning." Ernie stated from the Hufflepuff table.

Cassiopeia woke with a start. Her aunt rapped on the door again.

"Up!" she screeched. Lassi heard her walking toward the kitchen and then the sound of the frying pan being put on the stove. She rolled onto her back and tried to remember the dream she had been having. It had been a good one. There had been a flying motorcycle in it. She had a funny feeling she'd had the same dream before.

"Thats because it wasn't a dream,Potter."..sneered Pansy.

Snape was waiting, he needed the evidence that the girl was spoiled. Yes, he so desperately needed to believe in it. To justify himself.

Her aunt was back outside the door.

"Are you up yet?" she demanded.

-Give her a dam second..sneered Moody. He hated this couple. Good for nothing stupid...

"Nearly," said Cassiopeia.

"Well, get a move on, I want you to look after the bacon. And don't you dare let it burn, I want everything perfect on Duddy's birthday."

"You had to cook?"..asked Molly Weasley, she was strangely calm. It was scarier, better if she was screaming.

Cassiopeia groaned.

"What did you say?" her aunt snapped through the door.

 "She didn't say anything!"..muttered Hermione. She was so upset. How could they? Her parents didn't allow her near the kitchen until she was 13 and even after, she didn't have to cook. Her mother never forced her.

"Nothing, nothing…"

Dudley's birthday — how could she have forgotten? Cassiopeia got slowly out of bed and started looking for socks. She found a pair under her bed and, after pulling a spider

off one of them, put them on. Cassi was used to spiders,

Cassiopeia put her blank mask again. She won't give Malfoy and his stupid friends a reason to torture her. She survived it and much worse. She could face it now.

because the cupboard under the stairs was full of them, and that was where she slept.

Ron and Hermione looked so angry, their faces read, both shaking with rage. Ron got up from the table looking ready to commit a murder.

" I.Will.Kill.Them."..was all he said.

Umbridge was happy. She immedeatley started to call the aurors.."Arrest him! The boy is unstable, he has a violent tendency !

Not a single person moved. In fact Tonks hair were black, her eyes glittered dangerously and Kingsley's face showed a great deal of hate.

The Weasley family were looking bloodthirsty.

-Whatever do you mean, Dolores?..asked Rufus, he clenched his teeth. I hear nothing and I saw nothing- And if I did I would totally agree with that statement. I believe it is time we, the Ministry of Magic do something. It can't be the only case.

Cassiopeia collected herself.."No, Minister, it is not. I did not have it that bad. It could be worse. I believed we all should take care of our children better. I am not only talking about muggleborns or raised. Children's welfare should be one of the  priorities. And those who showed signs of being abused must be removed from the care of their family. Maybe we could open a magical orphan house.

Many people looked at her with admiration. Rufus was one of them

"You know, that's a pretty good idea. I believe we could discuss it with yourself and Dumbledore. 

Professor McGonagall was still glaring at Professor Dumbledore.

Snape was so shocked that he lost his perfect spy mask. "No, no,no...please no. If she wasn't like her father..what did I do?. The voice in his head was telling him that Lily will hunt him down..

Meanwhile the proud house of Salazar was lost and confused.

"I don't understand this..exclaimed Moon",,Professor Snape always said she was so arrogant and spoiled, he said she was a "golden girl"

"Really, Moon, really? Do you think that our Head of the House is the most trustworthy source of information when it come's to Cassiopeia Potter"..said Adrian Pucey angrily. 

"But Malfoy always said that she bullied him, Potter and her friends"..said a forth year boy.

Nott rolled his eyes.."Well, if Professor Shape is based, than you can be sure as hell that Draco will never tell you the truth. I do not know why, but he holds a grudge against her".

"My fellow Slytherins, I do believe its time for us to stop listening to what Shape and Draco have to say and start to observe her by ourself. I refuse to be a fool or a sheep. And honestly, Moon, do I need to remind you that she is the only one that could help you get out from your family mess? Unless..you changed your..spoked Blaise Zabini.

"No! I want have nothing to do with my family and their stupid way.."..Moon spoke in a low voice.

After a long while Rufus could continue. But not before Cassiopeia swore to talk to Remus and Ron.They almost storm out of the hall! 

When she was dressed she went down the hall into the kitchen. The table was almost hidden beneath all Dudley's birthday presents.

It looked as though Dudley had gotten the new computer he wanted, not to mention the second television and the racing bike.

"What a spoiled brat"..muttered Nevill.

Exactly why Dudley wanted a racing bike was a mystery to Cassiopeia, as Dudley was very fat and hated exercise — unless of course it involved punching somebody.

"It had better not be you" growled Remus.

Dudley's favorite punching bag was Cassiopeia,

Missis Weasley found her voice.."Just you wait! I will get my hands on him." She looked at her twins and smiled proudly.."Fred, George I would like to apologise. You did good pranking that..that boy"

Her children lost their jaws.

but he couldn't often catch her. Cassiopeia didn't look it, but she was very fast.

Minerva sighed.

Perhaps it had something to do with living in a dark cupboard,she

always been small and skinny for her age.

Remus smiled. "No, that James and Lily. Your mother was rather petit herself"

Adrian Pucey thought she was rather pretty like this. He shook his head. (You don't even know her. Stop it) he told to himself.

He was not the only one. Many guys thought she was beautiful. Cassiopeia was oblivious to the looks much to Ron's and Nevill's delight. They would deal with those poor bastards..in their opinion no guy was good enough for their sister.

She looked even smaller and skinnier than he really was because all he had to wear were old clothes of Dudley's, and Dudley was about four times bigger than she was. Cassiopeia had a thin face, knobby knees, black hair,

and bright green eyes.

Shape closed his eyes briefly..(Lily..)he thought.

She wore round glasses held together with a lot of Scotch tape

"Why?" Ginny questioned.

because of all the times Dudley had punched her on the nose.

More growls were heard..

she only thing she liked about her own appearance was a very thin scar on her forehead that was shaped like a bolt of lightning.

"Wait,what?"..asked Ron

"That was before I knew. and well, the Dursley hated it..so.."..answered Cassi

She had had it as long as she could remember, and the first question she could ever remember asking her Aunt Petunia was how she had gotten it.

"In the car crash when your parents died," she had said.

"WHAT? LILY AND JAMES POTTER DIDN'T DIE IN A CAR CRASH!"...it was Sirius Black. Flesh and blood.

Before anyone could come out of this shock, Albus Dumbledore announced that everything regarding Sirius Black will be explained in the third book. Rufus wanted to protest, but when he saw Cassiopeia giving a kiss on the cheek to a men who betrayed her parents..well, he was not sure anymore.

Madam Bones had a pensive look. Sirius Black was here all the time. As a dog. The very dog Cassiopeia Potter was holding. She did not seems surprised nor was she scared.Could it be? But if an innocent man spent twelve years in Azkaban..she would discover the truth! Everyone will answered to her!

"And don't ask questions."

Don't ask questions — that was the first rule for a quiet life with the Dursleys.

The Ravenclaw looked horrified and so did their Head of the House. 

Flitwick was muttering something about horrible parents and impossible conditions.

Uncle Vernon entered the kitchen as Cassiopeia was turning over the bacon.

"Comb your hair!" he barked, by way of a morning greeting.

"Pfff, as if it could work"..laugh Sirius. "Potter curse, kid"..he said gently.

About once a week, Uncle Vernon looked over the top of his newspaper and shouted that the girl needed a haircut. Cassiopeia must have had more haircuts than the rest of the boys and girls all  in her class put together, but it made no difference, her hair simply grew that way — all over the place.

"No way, are you?"..Tonks looked so exited.

"I am. Didn't want more attention. Thats why only a few knew." answered Cass.

Cassiopeia was frying eggs by the time Dudley arrived in the kitchen with his mother. Dudley looked a lot like Uncle Vernon. He had a large pink face, not much neck, small, watery blue eyes, and thick blond hair that lay smoothly on his thick, fat head.

"Sexy"..muttered Padma sarcastically 

Aunt Petunia often said that Dudley looked like a baby angel — Cassi often said that Dudley looked like a pig in a wig.

Laughter rang throughout the Great Hall.

"Bloody good one.mate" Ron high five her.

Cassi put the plates of egg and bacon on the table, which was difficult as there wasn't much room. Dudley, meanwhile, was counting his presents. His face fell.

"Thirty-six," he said, looking up at his mother and father. "That's two less than last year."

"And he is complaining"..muttered Madam Pomfrey. 

"He needs help" another Ravenclaw replied.

"Darling, you haven't counted Auntie Marge's present, see, it's here under this big one from Mummy and Daddy."

"All right, thirty-seven then," said Dudley, going red in the face. Cassiopeia, who could see a huge Dudley tantrum coming on, began wolfing down her bacon as fast as possible in case Dudley turned the table over.

Aunt Petunia obviously scented danger, too, because she said quickly, "And we'll buy you another two presents while we're out today. How's that, popkin? Two more presents. Is that all right?"

Dudley thought for a moment. It looked like hard work. Finally he said slowly, "So I'll have thirty… thirty…"

"Oh dear…" about half the staff said.

Hermione pressed her lips. 

"Thirty-nine, sweetums," said Aunt Petunia.

"Oh." Dudley sat down heavily and grabbed the nearest parcel. "All right then."

Uncle Vernon chuckled.

"Little tyke wants his money's worth, just like his father. 'Atta boy, Dudley!" He ruffled Dudley's hair.

"He is approving..I have no words anymore"..commented Mister Weasley.

"If any of my children ever..."began his wife.

All the Weasley siblings (including Percy, who was rather silent) winced. 

At that moment the telephone rang and Aunt Petunia went to answer it while Cassi and Uncle Vernon watched Dudley unwrap the racing bike, a video camera, a remote control airplane, sixteen new computer games, and a VCR.

He was ripping the paper off a gold wristwatch when Aunt Petunia came back from the telephone looking both angry and worried.

"Bad news, Vernon," she said. "Mrs. Figg's broken her leg. She can't take her."

"Her name is Cassiopeia, bloody woman!"..shouted Sirius. 

His goddaughter gave him a warm smile. 

She jerked her head in Cassi's direction.

Dudley's mouth fell open in horror, but Cassiopeia's heart gave a leap. Every year on Dudley's birthday, his parents took him and a friend out for the day, to adventure parks, hamburger restaurants, or the movies. Every year, Cass was left behind with Mrs. Figg, a mad old lady who lived two streets away. Cassi hated it there. The whole house smelled of cabbage and Mrs. Figg made her look at photographs of all the cats she'd ever owned.

"I'd hate it there too" Fred said.

"Now what?" said Aunt Petunia, looking furiously at her niece  as though she'd planned this. Cassiopeia knew she ought to feel sorry that Mrs. Figg had broken her leg, but it wasn't easy when she reminded herself it would be a whole year before she had to look at Tibbles, Snowy, Mr. Paws, and Tufty again.

Seamus couldn't hold his laugh. "Horrible names".

"We could phone Marge," Uncle Vernon suggested.

"Don't be silly, Vernon, she hates the girl."

"-Is that the one"..started George

Ron was rolling and laughing

"-Yes,George my old boy, thats the one and only"...smirked Cassiopeia.

"-Are we missing something here", asked Hannah

Adrian was half listening. Since when did she smirk so well? 

"-As Cassi old girl would have said, you wait until the third year, people!"..laughed Fred.

The Dursleys often spoke about Cassiopeia like this, as though she wasn't there — or rather, as though she was something very nasty that couldn't understand them, like a slug.

McGonagall's lips were tiny and white. She is going to curse them. If only she tried harder..if only she could change the past. She promised to never fail her lion ever again.

"What about what's-her-name, your friend — Yvonne?"

"On vacation in Majorca," snapped Aunt Petunia.

"You could just leave me here," Cassiopeia put in hopefully (she'd be able to watch what she wanted on television for a change and maybe even have a go on Dudley's computer).

Aunt Petunia looked as though she'd just swallowed a lemon.

"And come back and find the house in ruins?" she snarled.

"-Cassiopeia won't blow up your house!! What a rubbish!"..said Molly.

"-Damn right you are,mother dearest. She will be saving it for her.."..started Fred

"-Oi,Fred, do not spoil the fun!"..Cassiopeia was back to her normal self.

"I won't blow up the house," said Cassiopeia , but they weren't listening.

"I suppose we could take her to the zoo," said Aunt Petunia slowly, "… and leave her in the car…"

"That car's new, she's not sitting in it alone…"

"She is NOT an animal, you pigs!" Bill said rather angrily.

Dudley began to cry loudly. In fact, he wasn't really crying — it had been years since he'd really cried — but he knew that if he screwed up his face and wailed, his mother would give him anything he wanted.

"Dinky Duddydums,

Laughter and snorts were bouncing  throughout the Hall.

don't cry, Mummy won't let her spoil your special day!" she cried, flinging her arms around him.

"-Mummy..? He is not a five year old, you know!..muttered Professor Vector.

"I… don't… want… her… t-t-to come!" Dudley yelled between huge, pretend sobs. "She always sp-spoils everything!" He shot Cassiopeia a nasty grin through the gap in his mother's arms.

"ERRR! I hate this Dudley kid!"...shouted Dennis Creevey.

Just then, the doorbell rang — "Oh, good Lord, they're here!" said Aunt Petunia frantically — and a moment later, Dudley's best friend, Piers Polkiss, walked in with his mother.

Piers was a scrawny boy with a face like a rat. He was usually the one who held people's arms behind their backs while Dudley hit them. Dudley stopped pretending to cry at once.

"Of course!"..muttered Remus, he was so disgusted with Lily's relatives. 

Half an hour later, Cassiopeia, who couldn't believe her luck, was sitting in the back of the Dursleys' car with Piers and Dudley, on the way to the zoo for the first time in her life. Her aunt and uncle hadn't been able to think of anything else to do with her, but before they'd left, Uncle Vernon had taken her aside.

"I'm warning you," he had said, putting his large purple face right up close to Cassi's, "I'm warning you now, girl — any funny business, anything at all — and you'll be in that cupboard from now until Christmas."

"-Why you bloody son of a b..."

"-Mister Black!! ..interrupted him Minerva.."While I do agree with you, I cannot allow such a language in front of the kids!"

At the Staff table Albus was looking older, tired and sad. How could they? He knew they wouldn't love her as their own..but he could never imagine. He wanted curse this family and himself as well.

"I'm not going to do anything," said Cassiopeia, "honestly…"

But Uncle Vernon didn't believe her. No one ever did.

The problem was, strange things often happened around her and it was just no good telling the Dursleys she didn't make them happen.

" I wonder what you did." Remus said.

Once, Aunt Petunia, tired of Cassiopeia coming back from the barbers looking as though she hadn't been at all, had taken a pair of kitchen scissors and cut her hair so short she was almost bald except for her bangs, which she left "to hide that horrible scar." Dudley had laughed himself silly at Cass, who spent a sleepless night imagining school the next day, where she was already laughed at for his baggy clothes and taped glasses.

Next morning, however, she had gotten up to find her hair exactly as it had been before Aunt Petunia had sheared it off.

"COOL!"...shouted Tonks.."Welcome to the club, my dear sister"

"Thank, Tonksiiii girl"..joked Cassiopeia.

She had been given a week in her cupboard for this, even though she had tried to explain that she couldn't explain how it had grown back so quickly.

Shape clenched his teeth. (...she knows what is this. She saw it with her sister. How could his beautiful Lily be related to that...thing..)

Another time, Aunt Petunia had been trying to force her into a revolting old sweater of Dudley's (brown with orange puff balls).

Many of the girls shuddered at the thought.

The harder she tried to pull it over her head, the smaller it seemed to become, until finally it might have fitted a hand puppet, but certainly wouldn't fit Cassiopeia.

Aunt Petunia had decided it must have shrunk in the wash and, to her great relief, Cassiopeia wasn't punished.

"Good, they should know that it is accidental magic." Professor Burbage said sternly.Honestly, his subject was "Muggle Studies", he thought muggles were an interesting lot, but those..oh,they were damn horrible.

On the other hand, she'd gotten into terrible trouble for being found on the roof of the school kitchens. Dudley's gang had been chasing her as usual when, as much to Cassiopeia's surprise as anyone else's, there she was sitting on the chimney.

"WOW you apparated!" said Ginny.

"Uh, I don't think so. I think I flew."

"It is quite possible, my dear girl"..commented Albus. "You mother did it too, I believe.

The Dursleys had received a very angry letter from Cassiopeia's headmistress telling them she had been climbing school buildings. But all she'd tried to do (as she shouted at Uncle Vernon through the locked door of her cupboard) was jump behind the big trashcans outside the kitchen doors. Cassi supposed that the wind must have caught him in mid-jump.

"Really,Potter"..sneered Malfoy

"I did not know about magic,Malfoy"

Draco wanted to add another nasty comment, but he saw the look Professor Snape was giving  and thought better of it.

But today, nothing was going to go wrong. It was even worth being with Dudley and Piers to be spending the day somewhere that wasn't school, her cupboard, or Mrs. Figg's cabbage-smelling living room.

"Knowing your luck, something did go very wrong." Sirius said.

While he drove, Uncle Vernon complained to Aunt Petunia. He liked to complain about things: people at work, Cassiopeia, the council, Cassiopeia, the bank, and Cassiopeia were just a few of his favorite subjects.

"Well, you clearly are his favourite subject " Dean stated.

"To complain about."

This morning, it was motorcycles.

"…roaring along like maniacs, the young hoodlums," he said, as a motorcycle overtook them.

"I had a dream about a motorcycle," said Cassiopeia, remembering suddenly. "It was flying."

Uncle Vernon nearly crashed into the car in front. He turned right around in his seat and yelled at her, his face like a gigantic beet with a mustache: "MOTORCYCLES DON'T FLY!"

"Yes they do! You idiot!"..shouted Sirius Black.

Dudley and Piers sniggered.

"I know they don't," said Cassiopeia. "It was only a dream."

But she wished she hadn't said anything. If there was one thing the Dursleys hated even more than her asking questions, it was her talking about anything acting in a way it shouldn't, no matter if it was in a dream or even a cartoon — they seemed to think she might get dangerous ideas.

"Maybe we should watch those cartoons…." Fred trailed off.

"Or even better...we could use the skills of our dear Cassiopeia"..finished George

"NO!" shouted their mother."You will not corrupt Cassi, no, don't you dare!

Gryffindors were trying to hold their laugh. Corrupt Cassiopeia Potter? Well, Molly Weasley was delusional. 

It was a very sunny Saturday and the zoo was crowded with families. The Dursleys bought Dudley and Piers large chocolate ice creams at the entrance and then, because the smiling lady in the van had asked Cassiopeia  what she wanted before they could hurry her away, they bought her a cheap lemon ice pop.

"Mmm, it was actually good...lemon"..moaned Cassiopeia dreamy.

"Do you like lemon flavour then "..suddenly asked Adrian Pucey, seven year Slytherin boy.

The hall was silent for a second.

Cassiopeia was surprised and by the look of it, Adrian was shocked himself. His face was a bit too read.

"Yes, I really do"..she answered politley.

Adrian gave her a nod and a small almost invisible smile. 

Beside him, his freinds were looking funny at him. Only Higgs and Zabini shared smirks. Well, Adrian did always say she was the most beautiful girl at Hogwarts, with her wild black hair, bright green eyes of the killing curse, high cheekbons and aristocratic features. He never talked badly about her friends or family. He hated when Malfoy did. Adrian insisted it was because he was fair, because he didn't like or want to be a dick, but well..maybe...they will keep an eye.

Ron on the other hand was looking dangerously at the Slytherin table. He didn't have anything against Pucey really. His brothers even respected him. He never plaid dirty, was fair in the game. But if he was thinking about courting his sister...Pucey better change his minds. 

Sirius and Remus were thinking the same thing. Sirius hugged his little girl closer.

It wasn't bad, either, Cassi thought, licking it as they watched a gorilla scratching its head who looked remarkably like Dudley, except that it wasn't blond.

"Poor gorilla"..said Luna

Cassi had the best morning she'd had in a long time. She was careful to walk a little way apart from the Dursleys so that Dudley and Piers, who were starting to get bored with the animals by lunchtime, wouldn't fall back on their favorite hobby of hitting her.

Bill and Charlie growled. Those little shits.

 

They ate in the zoo restaurant, and when Dudley had a tantrum because his knickerbocker glory didn't have enough ice cream on top, Uncle Vernon bought him another one and Cassi was allowed to finish the first.

She felt, afterward, that she should have known it was all too good to last.

"What now"..muttered Rolana Hooch

After lunch they went to the reptile house. It was cool and dark in there, with lit windows all along the walls. Behind the glass, all sorts of lizards and snakes were crawling and slithering over bits of wood and stone. Dudley and Piers wanted to see huge, poisonous cobras and thick, man-crushing pythons. Dudley quickly found the largest snake in the place. It could have wrapped its body twice around Uncle Vernon's car and crushed it into a trash can — but at the moment it didn't look in the mood. In fact, it was fast asleep.

Dudley stood with his nose pressed against the glass, staring at the glistening brown coils.

"Make it move," he whined at his father. Uncle Vernon tapped on the glass, but the snake didn't budge.

"Do it again," Dudley ordered. Uncle Vernon rapped the glass smartly with his knuckles, but the snake just snoozed on.

"This is boring," Dudley moaned. He shuffled away.

Cassiopeia moved in front of the tank and looked intently at the snake. She wouldn't have been surprised if it had died of boredom itself — no company except stupid people drumming their fingers on the glass trying to disturb it all day long. It was worse than having a cupboard as a bedroom, where the only visitor was Aunt Petunia hammering on the door to wake you up; at least she got to visit the rest of the house.

"Mate, you are feeling sorry for a snake.."laugh Ron

"Oh, only you..Cassi, only you"..said Hermione with a fond smile.

The snake suddenly opened its beady eyes. Slowly, very slowly, it raised its head until its eyes were on a level with Cassiopeia's.

It winked.

Cass stared. Then she looked quickly around to see if anyone was watching. They weren't. She looked back at the snake and winked, too.

"Merlin..thats incredible." Remus was amused.

"Snakes don't have eyelids, so they can't wink." said a second year Ravenclaw 

The snake jerked its head toward Uncle Vernon and Dudley, then raised its eyes to the ceiling. It gave Cassiopeia a look that said quite plainly:

"I get that all the time."

"Never mind"..commented the same Ravenclaw boy.

"I know," Cassi murmured through the glass, though she wasn't sure the snake could hear her. "It must be really annoying."

The snake nodded vigorously.

"Where do you come from, anyway?" she asked.

The snake jabbed its tail at a little sign next to the glass. Cassi peered at it.

Boa Constrictor, Brazil.

"Was it nice there?"

"You are talking to a boa constrictor" Nott said "about Brazil. And you didn't find it strange at all?" he asked. 

Cassiopeia noticed that his question was lacking any rudeness.

"Well, a lot of strange things were happening to me" she answers with a laugh.

Shape was looking curiously at his House. What was going on? He knew of course, that his snakes were divided :those who supported the Dark Lord and hose who did not, but wanted some changes and old ways back. He was sure Pucey and Zabini were neutral in war officially, unofficially their families worked with the Order. But both of them, alongside Davis, Greengrass sisters and strangely Nott, Warrington and Higgs were in the second group.He was quite proud of them.

The boa constrictor jabbed its tail at the sign again and Cassiopeia  read on: This specimen was bred in the zoo. "Oh, I see — so you've never been to Brazil?"

As the snake shook its head, a deafening shout behind Cassiopeia  made both of them jump. "DUDLEY! MR. DURSLEY! COME AND LOOK AT THIS SNAKE! YOU WON'T BELIEVE WHAT IT'S DOING!"

Dudley came waddling toward them as fast as he could.

"Out of the way, you," he said, punching Cass in the ribs. Caught by surprise, she fell hard on the concrete floor.

Several people glanced at there wands. Dursley were going to pay.

What came next happened so fast no one saw how it happened — one second, Piers and Dudley were leaning right up close to the glass, the next, they had leapt back with howls of horror.

Cassiopeia sat up and gasped; the glass front of the boa constrictor's tank had vanished.

"That is so cool"...someone shouted

"Indeed,its very powerful, Miss Potter"..said Aurora Sinistra.

The great snake was uncoiling itself rapidly, slithering out onto the floor. People throughout the reptile house screamed and started running for the exits.

As the snake slid swiftly past her, Cassiopeia could have sworn a low, hissing voice said, "Brazil, here I come… Thanksss, amiga."

"Well, you see,it was polite. We should never judge a book by its cover"..commented Luna.

"I agree with Miss Lovegood"..Dumbledore said with the usual twinkle in his eyes.

Adrian felt like he looked at him at some point.

The keeper of the reptile house was in shock.

"But the glass," he kept saying, "where did the glass go?"

"Muggle, so stupid !"..sneered Malfoy.

Severus started to get irritated by Draco. He would observe the boy. Morgana knows, they did not need another Lucius.

The zoo director himself made Aunt Petunia a cup of strong, sweet tea while he apologized over and over again. Piers and Dudley could only gibber. As far as Cassiopeia had seen, the snake hadn't done anything except snap playfully at their heels as it passed, but by the time they were all back in Uncle Vernon's car, Dudley was telling them how it had nearly bitten off his leg, while Piers was swearing it had tried to squeeze him to death. But worst of all, for Cass at least, was Piers calming down enough to say, "Cassiopeia was talking to it, weren't you, Cassiopeia?".

"Git" Angelina whispered.

Uncle Vernon waited until Piers was safely out of the house before starting on Cassiopeia. He was so angry he could hardly speak. He managed to say, "Go — cupboard — stay — no meals,"

"WHAT?" Molly shrieked. "OH YOU BETTER HAVE GOTTEN SOMETHING CASSI, OR HELP THEM MERLIN…"

"It was fine, really, Missis Weasley" Cassi said while trying to come up with a plan to distract her or she might kill them all.

before he collapsed into a chair, and Aunt Petunia had to run and get him a large brandy.

Cassi lay in her dark cupboard much later, wishing she had a watch. She didn't know what time it was and she couldn't be sure the Dursleys were asleep yet. Until they were, she couldn't risk sneaking to the kitchen for some food.

"THEY SHOULD GIVE YOU ENOUGH FOOD! YOU ARE A CHILD!! Molly was on edge again.

"I agree. When we finish the books I will go there for a little visit"..commented Sirius.He was looking mad.People started to get worried about him yet again. There was something dark in his eyes.He was not someone to mess with.

She'd lived with the Dursleys almost ten years, ten miserable years, as long as she could remember, ever since she'd been a baby and her parents had died in that car crash. She couldn't remember being in the car when her parents had died. Sometimes, when she strained her memory during long hours in her cupboard, she came up with a strange vision: a blinding flash of green light and a burning pain on his forehead.

"You remember that?" Professor McGonagall said faintly.

"I do. A lot more now"..she answered sadly.

This, she supposed, was the crash, though she couldn't imagine where all the green light came from. She couldn't remember her parents at all.

Her aunt and uncle never spoke about them, and of course she was forbidden to ask questions. There were no photographs of them in the house.

"They are hideous, those Dursley"..stated Amelia. She was going to get them,oh yes. They will answer now.

When she had been younger, Cassi had dreamed and dreamed of some unknown relation coming to take her away, but it had never happened;

Sirius was feeling so guilty..It was his ruddy fault.

the Dursleys were her only family. Yet sometimes she thought (or maybe hoped) that strangers in the street seemed to know her. Very strange strangers they were, too.

A tiny man in a violet top hat had bowed to him once while out shopping with Aunt Petunia and Dudley. After asking Cassiopeia furiously if she knew the man, Aunt Petunia had rushed them out of the shop without buying anything. A wild-looking old woman dressed all in green had waved merrily at her once on a bus. A bald man in a very long purple coat had actually shaken his hand in the street the other day and then walked away without a word.

"How rude, Kings"..joked Tonks.

Her partner smiled sadly.If only he knew..bloody muggles would be arrested long time ago!

The weirdest thing about all these people was the way they seemed to vanish the second Cassi tried to get a closer look.

"Apparition!" sang twins rather loudly.

At school, she had no one. Everybody knew that Dudley's gang hated that odd Cassiopeia Potter in her baggy old clothes and broken glasses, and nobody liked to disagree with Dudley's gang.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Chapter 4.

 

"Well, if this was not depressing"..muttered Justin Flinch-Fletchley. He was feeling guiltier for the second year all over again. How Cassiopeia can be so kind was a mystery. Those people are damn abusers, they should be in the custody of the authorities, he knew in the Muggle world they would be for sure.

"Do we have a volunteer for the next chapter?"..asked Professor Flitwick. 

"I will read of course"...announced Dolores Umbridge. She was so pleased, the brat had a horrible life. Pity, she didn't die.

"No, I think not, Dolores"..answered Rufus..."After all, you were the one who brought those books to me, you insisted on this, I am afraid you should stay neutral in this"...Rufus had a bad feeling about it all.He thought it was a good idea at first, now..He saw the girl differently, she was just that..a girl. A human being, maybe the Ministry needed to give her more than simply a formal apology.   

" I would like to read, I think"..said Susan in worried voice. She understood why Minister was against the toad, she would love to see more suffering of Cassiopeia, she would read it with satisfaction. Susan Bones was not a Hufflepuff for nothing. She was fair and loyal, Cassi was her friend. Its better to be her, she would read it without pity, but with enough sympathy.

Rufus Scrimgeour gave her a nod and passed the book.

 

                                                                                                            "Letters From No One,"

 

The escape of the Brazilian boa constrictor earned Cassiopeia her longest-ever punishment.

By the time she was allowed out of her cupboard again, the summer holidays had started and Dudley had already broken his new video camera, crashed his remote control airplane, and, first time out on his racing bike, knocked down old Mrs. Figg as she crossed Privet Drive on her crutches.

" Horrid child, absolutely horrid"..muttered Amelia Bones.

Cassiopeia was glad school was over, but there was no escaping Dudley's gang, who visited the house every single day. Piers, Dennis, Malcolm, and Gordon were all big and stupid, but as Dudley was the biggest and stupidest of the lot, he was the leader.

The rest of them were all quite happy to join in Dudley's favorite sport: Cassiopeia Hunting.

"You know, Forge, I think we should join the Dudley hunting"

"I quite agree, Gred"

This was why Cassiopeia  spent as much time as possible out of the house, wandering around and thinking about the end of the holidays, where she could see a tiny ray of hope. When September came she would be going off to secondary school and, for the first time in her life, she wouldn't be with Dudley. Dudley had been accepted at Uncle Vernon's old private school, Smeltings. Piers Polkiss was going there too. Cassi, on the other hand, was going to Stonewall High, the local public school. Dudley thought this was very funny.

"I don't see how" Ron said.

"They stuff people's heads down the toilet the first day at Stonewall,"

"Disgusting…" muttered Percy Weasley. It was the first words of the day. No one heard him, but Dumbledore. He smiled to himself. Maybe those books will meld this broken family.

he told Cassiopeia. "Want to come upstairs and practice?"

"No, thanks," said Cassi. "The poor toilet's never had anything as horrible as your head down it — it might be sick."

The whole Hall burst into laughter at the thought.

The Weasley were rolling on the floor.

"We have corrupted you before we even met you!"

Sirius and Remus were smiling smugly.

Then she ran, before Dudley could work out what she'd said.

"I think there was no need, the brat is too stupid"..muttered Terry Boot.

One day in July, Aunt Petunia took Dudley to London to buy his Smeltings uniform, leaving Cassi at Mrs. Figg's.

Mrs. Figg wasn't as bad as usual. It turned out she'd broken her leg tripping over one of her cats, and she didn't seem quite as fond of them as before. She let Cassiopeia watch television and gave her a bit of chocolate cake that tasted as though she'd had it for several years.

Remus was horrified. "How could you..you need to treat it good"..muttered ex Professor.

Sirius and Cassiopeia were amused. 

"Remus love his chocolate, in fact, I think he might be addicted"..commented Cassi.

"Mmm, Cassiopeia, I think we all noticed by now, that you seems to be very close with Professor Lupin..?"..asked Ernie a bit unsure.

"No worries, Mister Macmillan, the third book will explain it all. But yes, Cassiopeia and I are close, we are a family after all"..Remus was his usual calm self.

Dolores the pink toad was disgusted. "Family..with a half-breed.." of course she didn't voice it.

That evening, Dudley paraded around the living room for the family in his brand-new uniform. Smeltings' boys wore maroon tailcoats, orange knickerbockers, and flat straw hats called boaters. They also carried knobbly sticks, used for hitting each other while the teachers weren't looking. This was supposed to be good training for later life.

"Yes, to be a bully" Hermione glowered.

As he looked at Dudley in his new knickerbockers, Uncle Vernon said gruffly that it was the proudest moment of his life. Aunt Petunia burst into tears and said she couldn't believe it was her Ickle Dudleykins, he looked so handsome and grown-up. Cass didn't trust herself to speak. She thought her of his ribs might already have cracked from trying not to laugh.

This didn't stop the others in the Hall.

There was a horrible smell in the kitchen the next morning when Cassiopeia went in for breakfast. It seemed to be coming from a large metal tub in the sink. She went to have a look. The tub was full of what looked like dirty rags swimming in gray water.

"What's this?" she asked Aunt Petunia. Her lips tightened as they always did if she dared to ask a question.

"How she supposed to learn, how.." Professor Flitwick was muttering. He wasn't a Ravenclaw for nothing.

"Your new school uniform," she said.

Albus narrowed his eyes dangerously. The Dursley were getting payment every month to care for Cassi's needs. Seems like they didn't spent anything on her. They would pay. They would pay the money and some more..

Amelia Bones wrote it down too. She was getting angrier and angrier.

Cassiopeia looked in the bowl again.

"Oh," she said, "I didn't realize it had to be so wet."

"You defiantly have Lily's cheek dear." Remus said, smiling at his cub.

"Don't be stupid," snapped Aunt Petunia. "I'm dyeing some of Dudley's old things gray for you. It'll look just like everyone else's when I've finished."

Cassiopeia seriously doubted this, but thought it best not to argue.

Professor Snape was appalled. "Really, she didn't argue, if only she could hold her tong here.." he thought 

She sat down at the table and tried not to think about how she was going to look on her first day at Stonewall High — like she was wearing bits of old elephant skin, probably.

Ron and Ginny could relate, but unlike the Dursley their family simply couldn't afford more. They knew if they parents had money, they would spent every single knut on their children.

Dudley and Uncle Vernon came in, both with wrinkled noses because of the smell from Cassi's new uniform. Uncle Vernon opened his newspaper as usual and Dudley banged his Smelting stick, which he carried everywhere, on the table.

"He has no manners!"..snapped Molly Weasley.

Ron was thinking that if it was him or his brothers..well, he doubted they could sit for weeks afterwards.

They heard the click of the mail slot and flop of letters on the doormat.

"Get the mail, Dudley," said Uncle Vernon from behind his paper.

"Really?"..asked Collin 

"Make Cassiopeia get it."

"Get the mail, girl."

"never mind…"..muttered Collin

"Make Dudley get it."

"Poke her with your Smelting stick, Dudley."

M.Weasley tried very hard not to explode himself.

"Just you wait, just you wait"..he snapped instead.

Cassiopeia dodged the Smelting stick and went to get the mail. Three things lay on the doormat: a postcard from Uncle Vernon's sister Marge, who was vacationing on the Isle of Wight, a brown envelope that looked like a bill, and — a letter for Cassi.

"Finally! It's your letter from Hogwarts!" shouted Hannah. She was tired of this stupid people. Cassiopeia shouldn't live with them. She looked at Amelia Bones, Hanna thought that her friend wouldn't be going back there if the look Madam Bones was given was anything to go by.

Cassi picked it up and stared at it, her heart twanging like a giant elastic band. No one, ever, in her whole life, had written to him. Who would?

"I would! And I did, so many times!!"..shouted Andromeda and Remus.

Albus was angry, really angry. "I did place some wards, but I made sure that your letters and the letters from the Potters family friends could get without any troubles"..he said sternly.

"Probably that blasted ant of hers.."..snapped Molly.

"Do not worry, my dear girl, we will get the answers..and we will make sure you have them all."..said Albus to Cassiopeia

"Yes, Professor,please do, Gin-Gin over here wrote her soo many times"..laugh Fred.

His sister looked read and hide her face.

She had no friends, no other relatives — she didn't belong to the library, so she'd never even got rude notes asking for books back. Yet here it was, a letter, addressed so plainly there could be no mistake:

Miss. C. Black-Potter

"Wait a second..BLACK? You are not..you can't be!..Draco Malfoy couldn't hold it anymore.

"Mister Malfoy, be silent this instance. I can assure you, it was not a mistake. The rest of you, be quit. The books will explain!..Minerva was back in her angry mood.

Zabini was thinking hard. He remembered a year ago Draco and his father discovered that Malfoy jr. was not the Heir to the Black family. The goblins refused to say anything more of course. Well, Potter's grandmother was Dorea Black. She was very strong witch, she hold a great power. Many joked that it wouldn't be Dorea Black-Potter, but Charles Black-Potter. She was too strong willed and the Black blood usually was dominant. Than, Sirius Black..he was her godfather..could the Potter family use the old ways ritual? Could it be..a blood adoption?? Dear Salazar, if so...he wanted to see Lucius Malfoy's face, If so..it could change so many things. Potters and Blacks..both families go way back, influence and power. He couldn't wait to learn more!

The Cupboard under the Stairs 4 Privet Drive

Here many growled.

Little Whinging

Surrey

The envelope was thick and heavy, made of yellowish parchment, and the address was written in emerald-green ink.

There was no stamp.

Turning the envelope over, his hand trembling, Harry saw a purple wax seal bearing a coat of arms; a lion,

an eagle,

a badger,

and a snake

surrounding a large letter H.

Cassiopeia smiled. Her first Home. 

"Hurry up, girl!" shouted Uncle Vernon from the kitchen. "What are you doing, checking for letter bombs?" He chuckled at his own joke.

Cassi went back to the kitchen, still staring at her letter. She handed Uncle Vernon the bill and the postcard, sat down, and slowly began to open the yellow envelope.

"Why didn't you open your letter in the hall?"..asked a seven year Ravenclaw.

"Well, I didn't think..I was too shocked"

Uncle Vernon ripped open the bill, snorted in disgust, and flipped over the postcard.

"Marge's ill," he informed Aunt Petunia. "Ate a funny whelk…"

"What a pity.."muttered Ron with venom in his voice.

"Dad!" said Dudley suddenly. "Dad, Cassi's got something!"

"Little shit"..said Bill

Cass was on the point of unfolding his letter,

which was written on the same heavy parchment as the envelope, when it was jerked sharply out of her hand by Uncle Vernon.

"That's mine!" said Cassiopeia, trying to snatch it back.

"You tell him,girl! Stand up for yourself!"..shouted Mad-eye 

"Who'd be writing to you?" sneered Uncle Vernon, shaking the letter open with one hand and glancing at it. His face went from red to green faster than a set of traffic lights. And it didn't stop there. Within seconds it was the grayish white of old porridge.

"P-P-Petunia!" he gasped.

"For the love of Salazar, shut it, you blasted shit"..muttered Adrian, he wasn't quit enough.

Many heads turned in his direction.

Snape narrowed his eyes. What the hell is going on with this boy?

Cassiopeia gave him on of her gentle smiles.

Adrian forgot all about the stares and smiled back.

Sirius Black clenched his teeth and looked at his wand. "If he makes a move...I will cures him to the next year..How dare!His Cassi was too young, no boys! They all good for nothing.."

Susan thought it was better to read fast.

Dudley tried to grab the letter to read it, but Uncle Vernon held it high out of his reach. Aunt Petunia took it curiously and read the first line. For a moment it looked as though she might faint. She clutched her throat and made a choking noise.

"Vernon! Oh my goodness — Vernon!"

"Bloody drama"..muttered Terry. 

They stared at each other, seeming to have forgotten that Cassiopeia and Dudley were still in the room. Dudley wasn't used to being ignored. He gave his father a sharp tap on the head with his Smelting stick.

"My father would kill me if I ever did something like that." A Slytherin boy said.

"I want to read that letter," he said loudly.

"You can't read this letter, stupid brat. It is not yours"..muttered a first year lion.

"Not to mention its illegal"..added Rufus.

"I want to read it," said Cassiopeia furiously, "as it's mine."

"Is it...!" Fred yelled 

"oh yes,brother mine..it is"..said George

"THE CASSIOPEIA BLACK-POTTER TEMPER IS COMING, RUN, RUN PEOPLE"..they yelled together.

"Get out, both of you," croaked Uncle Vernon, stuffing the letter back inside its envelope.

Cassi didn't move.

Ron and Hermione smiled, oh they knew all about her temper, all right 

"I WANT MY LETTER!" she shouted.

"We told you so!" sang the Weasleys.

"You got it from us,the Blacks are famous for it. Not to mention your mother,Lily.."..said Andromeda fondly.

Slytherins exchanged some looks.

"Let me see it!" demanded Dudley.

"Its not yours, moron! That boy is getting on my nerves"..said Bill Weasley.

"You and me, both."..Cassi added lightly.

He winked at her.

Adrian felt irritated. Strange he thought. What is wrong with me? 

"OUT!" roared Uncle Vernon, and he took both Cassi and Dudley by the scruffs of their necks and threw them into the hall, slamming the kitchen door behind them. Cassia and Dudley promptly had a furious but silent fight over who would listen at the keyhole; Dudley won,

 

so Cassi,

her glasses dangling from one ear, lay flat on her stomach to listen at the crack between door and floor.

"Good girl.good girl"..muttered Moody.

"Vernon," Aunt Petunia was saying in a quivering voice, "look at the address — how could they possibly know where she sleeps? You don't think they're watching the house?"

"Maybe we should have." Professor McGonagall said.

"Watching — spying — might be foll owing us," muttered Uncle Vernon wildly.

"Paranoid much?"..asked a first year raven.

"But what should we do, Vernon? Should we write back? Tell them we don't want —"

"Please do. We don't want her here"..sneered Pansy.

Adrian and Tracey send her a warning look. They both hated her. She was a disgrace to their house.

"Well, too bad for you. Because WE want Cassi here"..shouted the majority of the Hall.

Cassiopeia could see Uncle Vernon's shiny black shoes pacing up and down the kitchen.

"No," he said finally. "No, we'll ignore it. If they don't get an answer… Yes, that's best… we won't do anything…"

"But —"

"I'm not having one in the house, Petunia! Didn't we swear when we took her in we'd stamp out that dangerous nonsense?"

Dumbledore was shaking with rage by now..

"You can't stamp magic out of a wizard or witch. It is very dangerous." he said gravely, thinking about his sister.

"They didn't, Professor. He just likes to talk"..Cassiopeia said sensing danger.

That evening when she got back from work, Uncle Vernon did something he'd never done before; he visited her in his cupboard.

"He fits...by the Godric"..shouted Ginny.

"Only his head"..said back Cassiopeia 

"Where's my letter?" said Cassi, the moment Uncle Vernon had squeezed through the door. "Who's writing to me?"

"A lot of people"..said someone.

"No one. It was addressed to you by mistake," said Uncle Vernon shortly. "I have burned it."

"It was not a mistake," said Cassi angrily, "it had my cupboard on it."

"SILENCE!" yelled Uncle Vernon, and a couple of spiders fell from the ceiling.

He took a few deep breaths and then forced his face into a smile, which looked quite painful.

"Probably looked like a serial killer"..muttered a second year muggleborn Gryffindor.

"A what?!" asked another second year

"We will explain it latter."..Mione answered kindly

"Er — yes, Cassi — about this cupboard. Your aunt and I have been thinking… you're really getting a bit big for it… we think it might be nice if you moved into Dudley's second bedroom.

"..second bedroom?" Remus growled .

"Why?" said Cassi.

"Good! They didn't give you any reasons to trust them!! Don't buy the fake smiles,girl"..Moody was shouting proudly.

Albus shook his head. His old friend could say whatever he wanted, but it was clear he cared for Cassiopeia deeply.

"Don't ask questions!" snapped his uncle. "Take this stuff upstairs, now."

The Dursleys' house had four bedrooms: one for Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia, one for visitors (usually Uncle Vernon's sister, Marge), one where Dudley slept, and one where Dudley kept all the toys and things that wouldn't fit into his first bedroom. It only took Cassi one trip upstairs to move everything she owned from the cupboard to this room. She sat down on the bed and stared around her. Nearly everything in here was broken. The month-old video camera was lying on top of a small, working tank Dudley had once driven over the next door neighbor's dog; in the corner was Dudley's first-ever television set, which he'd put his foot through when his favorite program had been cancelled; there was a large birdcage, which had once held a parrot that Dudley had swapped at school for a real air rifle, which was up on a shelf with the end all bent because Dudley had sat on it. Other shelves were full of books. They were the only things in the room that looked as though they'd never been touched.

The Ravenclaw table looked scandalous. So did Hermione.

From downstairs came the sound of Dudley bawling at his mother, "I don't want her in there… I need that room… make her get out…"

"Yeah right." Neville replied with anger.

Cassi sighed and stretched out on the bed. Yesterday she'd have given anything to be up here. Today she'd rather be back in her cupboard with that letter than up here without it.

Andromeda was ready to cry.

 

Next morning at breakfast, everyone was rather quiet. Dudley was in shock. He'd screamed, whacked his father with his Smelting stick, been sick on purpose, kicked his mother, and thrown his tortoise through the greenhouse roof, and he still didn't have his room back.

"If  any of my children.." Molly muttered again.

"Molly,dear, our children know better.." said her husband

Cassiopeia was thinking about this time yesterday and bitterly wishing she'd opened the letter in the hall.

"Don't be hard on yourself, dear"..Molly commented

Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia kept looking at each other darkly.

When the mail arrived, Uncle Vernon, who seemed to be trying to be nice to Cassiopeia, made Dudley go and get it.

They heard him banging things with his Smelting stick all the way down the hall. Then he shouted, "There's another one! 'Miss. C. Black-Potter, The Smallest Bedroom, 4 Privet Drive —'"

With a strangled cry, Uncle Vernon leapt from his seat and ran down the hall, Cassiopeia  right behind him. Uncle Vernon had to wrestle Dudley to the ground to get the letter from him, which was made difficult by the fact that Cassi had grabbed Uncle Vernon around the neck from behind.

"Are you practicing already?" joked Ron, thinking about the troll.

After a minute of confused fighting, in which everyone got hit a lot by the Smelting stick, Uncle Vernon straightened up, gasping for breath, with Cassi's letter clutched in his hand.

"Go to your cupboard — I mean, your bedroom," he wheezed at her. "Dudley — go — just go."

Cassiopeia walked round and round her new room. Someone knew she had moved out of her cupboard and they seemed to know she hadn't received her first letter. Surely that meant they'd try again? And this time she'd make sure they didn't fail. She had a plan.

"Oh, no!" Hermione whispered.

"What?"..demanded Cassiopeia 

"Mate,,,your plans..Well, you know.."..tried Ron

The repaired alarm clock rang at six o'clock the next morning. Cassiopeia turned it off quickly and dressed silently. She mustn't wake the Dursleys. She stole downstairs without turning on any of the lights.

She was going to wait for the postman on the corner of Privet Drive and get the letters for number four first. Her heart hammered as she crept across the dark hall toward the front door —

"AAAAARRRGH!"

"What now?"..moaned worriedly Professor Vector.

Cassiopeia leapt into the air; she'd trodden on something big and squashy on the doormat — something alive!

Lights clicked on upstairs and to her horror Cassi realized that the big, squashy something had been his uncle's face.

"HELL YES!!!"..shouted the twins.

Bill and Charlie gave the girl an amused smiles.

Adrian was pleased himself, even if he didn't necessarily liked the Weasley's boys and those damn smiles right now. But that  bastard..he couldn't believe it. Those people were like muggles deatheaters. 

Uncle Vernon had been lying at the foot of the front door in a sleeping bag, clearly making sure that Cassiopeia didn't do exactly what she'd been trying to do. He shouted at her for about half an hour and then told her to go and make a cup of tea. Cassi shuffled miserably off into the kitchen and by the time she got back, the mail had arrived, right into Uncle Vernon's lap. She could see three letters addressed in green ink.

"I want —" she began, but Uncle Vernon was tearing the letters into pieces before her eyes.

"That..that.."..Minevra couldn't find any appropriate words without cursing.

Uncle Vernon didn't go to work that day.

He stayed at home and nailed up the mail slot.

"See," he explained to Aunt Petunia through a mouthful of nails, "if they can't deliver them they'll just give up."

"Will not!"...snapped Irma Pince, the Librarian 

"I'm not sure that'll work, Vernon."

"Damn right, it won't "..said Madam Pomfrey. She was a healer, but those people were making her ready to forget all about it and make her hurt them badly.

"Oh, these people's minds work in strange ways, Petunia, they're not like you and me," said Uncle Vernon, trying to knock in a nail with the piece of fruitcake Aunt Petunia had just brought him.

"Thank goodness we don't" said Dean, he was annoyed.

On Friday, no less than twelve letters arrived for Cassiopeia. As they couldn't go through the mail slot they had been pushed under the door, slotted through the sides, and a few even forced through the small window in the downstairs bathroom.

Uncle Vernon stayed at home again. After burning all the letters, he got out a hammer and nails and boarded up the cracks around the front and back doors so no one could go out. He hummed "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" as he worked, and jumped at small noises.

" He needs help..mental that one"..said Lavander. 

On Saturday, things began to get out of hand. Twenty-four letters to Cassiopeia found their way into the house, rolled up and hidden inside each of the two-dozen eggs that their very confused milkman had handed Aunt Petunia through the living room window. While Uncle Vernon made furious telephone calls to the post office and the dairy trying to find someone to complain to, Aunt Petunia shredded the letters in her food processor.

"Who on earth wants to talk to you this badly?" Dudley asked Cassi in amazement.

"Plenty of people" someone said.

On Sunday morning, Uncle Vernon sat down at the breakfast table looking tired and rather ill, but happy.

"No post on Sundays," he reminded them cheerfully as he spread marmalade on his newspapers, "no damn letters today —"

"Don't be so sure, you shit"..said Charlie Weasley.

Something came whizzing down the kitchen chimney as he spoke and caught him sharply on the back of the head. Next moment, thirty or forty letters came pelting out of the fireplace like bullets. The Dursleys ducked, but Cassiopeia leapt into the air trying to catch one —

"Out! OUT!"

Uncle Vernon seized her around the waist and threw her into the hall.

"His best hope I don't send him to Azkaban"..said Madam Bones.

When Aunt Petunia and Dudley had run out with their arms over their faces, Uncle Vernon slammed the door shut. They could hear the letters still streaming into the room, bouncing off the walls and floor.

"That does it," said Uncle Vernon, trying to speak calmly but pulling great tufts out of his mustache at the same time. "I want you all back here in five minutes ready to leave. We're going away. Just pack some clothes. No arguments!"

"But Cassi loves to argue!"  George said, teasingly.

"Why am I friends with you again?" she asked..

"Because, Cassi dearest.." started Fred

"You love us dearly"..finished his twin

He looked so dangerous with half his mustache missing that no one dared argue. Ten minutes later they had wrenched their way through the boarded-up doors and were in the car, speeding toward the highway. Dudley was sniffling in the back seat; his father had hit him round the head for holding them up while he tried to pack his television, VCR, and computer in his sports bag.

They drove. And they drove. Even Aunt Petunia didn't dare ask where they were going. Every now and then Uncle Vernon would take a sharp turn and drive in the opposite direction for a while.

"Shake 'em off… shake 'em off," he would mutter...

"Goodness. He needs a psychiatrist ." Hermione said sharply.

They didn't stop to eat or drink all day. By nightfall Dudley was howling. He'd never had such a bad day in his life. He was hungry, he'd missed five television programs he'd wanted to see, and he'd never gone so long without blowing up an alien on his computer.

"Spoiled brat"..said Ginny.

Uncle Vernon stopped at last outside a gloomy-looking hotel on the outskirts of a big city. Dudley and Cassi shared a room with twin beds and damp, musty sheets. Dudley snored but Cassi stayed awake, sitting on the windowsill, staring down at the lights of passing cars and wondering…

"What about"..asked Dennis.

They ate stale cornflakes and cold tinned tomatoes on toast for breakfast the next day. They had just finished when the owner of the hotel came over to their table.

"'Scuse me, but is one of you Miss. C. Black-Potter? Only I got about an 'undred of these at the front desk."

She held up a letter so they could read the green ink address:

Miss. C. Black- Potter

Room 17

Railview Hotel

Cokeworth

Cassiopeia made a grab for the letter but Uncle Vernon knocked her hand out of the way. The woman stared.

"I'll take them," said Uncle Vernon, standing up quickly and following her from the dining room.

"Wouldn't it be better just to go home, dear?" Aunt Petunia suggested timidly, hours later, but Uncle Vernon didn't seem to hear her.

Exactly what he was looking for, none of them knew. He drove them into the middle of a forest, got out, looked around, shook his head, got back in the car, and off they went again. The same thing happened in the middle of a plowed field, halfway across a suspension bridge, and at the top of a multilevel parking garage.

Daddy's gone mad, hasn't he?" Dudley asked Aunt Petunia dully late that afternoon.

"A long..long time ago"..said Parvati Patil

Uncle Vernon had parked at the coast, locked them all inside the car, and disappeared.

It started to rain. Great drops beat on the roof of the car. Dudley sniveled.

"It's Monday," he told his mother. "The Great Humberto's on tonight. I want to stay somewhere with a television."

Monday. This reminded Cassi of something. If it was Monday — and you could usually count on Dudley to know the days the week, because of television — then tomorrow, Tuesday, was Cassiopeia's eleventh birthday.

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY,CASSI"..yelled almost everyone in the Hall.

The girl smiled at her friends. How she loved them..

Of course, her birthdays were never exactly fun — last year, the Dursleys had given her a coat hanger and a pair of Uncle Vernon's old socks.

Sirius scowled. He will spoil her, just you wait.

Molly Weasley was about to cry. In her head she was already planning a big Birthday-party.

Still, you weren't eleven every day.

Uncle Vernon was back and he was smiling.

"I don't like the sounds of that"..muttered Daphne Greengrass. She was a part of the "second group". Her family was neutral in the war, but they did not support that mad man.

He was also carrying a long, thin package and didn't answer Aunt Petunia when she asked what he'd bought.

"Found the perfect place!" he said. "Come on! Everyone out!"

It was very cold outside the car. Uncle Vernon was pointing at what looked like a large rock way out at sea. Perched on top of the rock was the most miserable little shack you could imagine. One thing was certain, there was no television in there.

"Storm forecast for tonight!" said Uncle Vernon gleefully, clapping his hands together. "And this gentleman's kindly agreed to lend us his boat!"

 

A toothless old man came ambling up to them, pointing, with a rather wicked grin, at an old rowboat bobbing in the iron-gray water below them.

"I've already got us some rations," said Uncle Vernon, "so all aboard!"

It was freezing in the boat. Icy sea spray and rain crept down their necks and a chilly wind whipped their faces. After what seemed like hours they reached the rock, where Uncle Vernon, slipping and sliding, led the way to the broken-down house.

The inside was horrible; it smelled strongly of seaweed, the wind whistled through the gaps in the wooden walls, and the fireplace was damp and empty. There were only two rooms.

Uncle Vernon's rations turned out to be a bag of chips each and four bananas.

He tried to start a fire but the empty chip bags just smoked and shrivelled up.

"Could do with some of those letters now, eh?" he said cheerfully.

"Bloody moron! Scum..."Sirius was muttering.

He was in a very good mood. Obviously he thought nobody stood a chance of reaching them here in a storm to deliver mail.

"Yeeppp, right..we are wizards, muggle!"..sneered a third year Slytherin boy.

Cassi privately agreed, though the thought didn't cheer her up at all.

As night fell, the promised storm blew up around them. Spray from the high waves splattered the walls of the hut and a fierce wind rattled the filthy windows. Aunt Petunia found a few moldy blankets in the second room and made up a bed for Dudley on the moth-eaten sofa. She and Uncle Vernon went off to the lumpy bed next door, and Cass was left to find the softest bit of floor she could and to curl up under the thinnest, most ragged blanket.

Madam Pomfrey frowned.

The storm raged more and more ferociously as the night went on. Cassi couldn't sleep. She shivered and turned over, trying to get comfortable, her stomach rumbling with hunger. Dudley's snores were drowned by the low rolls of thunder that started near midnight. The lighted dial of Dudley's watch, which was dangling over the edge of the sofa on his fat wrist, told Cassiopeia she'd be eleven in ten minutes' time. She lay and watched her birthday tick nearer, wondering if the Dursleys would remember at all, wondering where the letter writer was now.

Adrian thought that he would remember. July 31..he was ready to slap himself. So what if he knew..like it would do any good. She probably saw him like an evil snake-boy.

Five minutes to go. Cassi heard something creak outside. She hoped the roof wasn't going to fall in, although she might be warmer if it did.

Four minutes to go. Maybe the house in Privet Drive would be so full of letters when they got back that she'd be able to steal one somehow.

Three minutes to go. Was that the sea, slapping hard on the rock like that? And (two minutes to go) what was that funny crunching noise? Was the rock crumbling into the sea?

Hagrid beamed and laugh.

One minute to go and she'd be eleven. Thirty seconds… twenty… ten… nine — maybe she'd wake Dudley up, just to annoy him

three… two… one…

BOOM.

"What..what is it?"..Remus was worried

"Nothing bad, Remy"..answered Cassi.

The whole shack shivered and Cassiopeia sat bolt upright, staring at the door. Someone was outside, knocking to come in.

"Don't stop now"..yelled Collin.

"It was the end of the chapter"..answered Susan.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 5.

 

"Well, who was it, bambi, please tell me it was someone we know..someone good"..moaned Remus Lupin.

"No need to worry, Remus. I am about to meet someone who is going to be very important to me. One of the dearest friends"..smiled Cassiopeia. 

Hagrid puffed his chest proudly. He loved her too. Cassiopeia was..well,Cassiopeia, perfect in her own way.

"I will read"..said Fred. He had a pretty good idea about who it was. That's gonna be fun.

 

                                                                                     The Keeper of the Keys," he read and grinned 

 

BOOM. They knocked again. Dudley jerked awake.

"Where's the cannon?" he said stupidly.

There was a crash behind them and Uncle Vernon came skidding into the room. He was holding a rifle in his hands – now they knew what had been in the long, thin package he had brought with them.

"That's so irresponsible and dangerous! I can't believe his stupidity"..muttered Hermione, her cheeks read with anger and eyes narrowed.

"Who's there?" he shouted. "I warn you — I'm armed!"

There was a pause. Then —

SMASH!

The door was hit with such force that it swung clean off its hinges and with a deafening crash landed flat on the floor.

A giant of a man was standing in the doorway.

Everyone shouted and applauded.

"Its Hagrid!"

Remus and Sirius gave a sigh of relief. 

His face was almost completely hidden by a long, shaggy mane of hair and a wild, tangled beard, but you could make out his eyes, glinting like black beetles under all the hair.

The giant squeezed his way into the hut, stooping so that his head just brushed the ceiling. He bent down, picked up the door, and fitted it easily back into its frame. The noise of the storm outside dropped a little. He turned to look at them all.

"Couldn't make us a cup o' tea, could yeh? It's not been an easy journey…"

"Good one, Hagrid"..yelled Charlie.

He strode over to the sofa where Dudley sat frozen with fear.

"Budge up, yeh great lump," said the stranger.

"Go Hagrid!" shouted Ron.

Dudley squeaked and ran to hide behind his mother, who was crouching, terrified, behind Uncle Vernon.

Sirius chuckled darkly.

"An' here's Cassiopeia!" said the giant.

Cassiopeia looked up into the fierce, wild, shadowy face and saw that the beetle eyes were crinkled in a smile.

"Las' time I saw you, you was only a baby," said the giant. "Yeh look a lot like yer dad, but yeh've got yer mom's eyes."

"Actually now you look a lot like your grandmother..Dorea Black"..said Andromeda proudly. Her ant Dorea was her favourite family member, along with cousin Sirius.

Uncle Vernon made a funny rasping noise.

"I demand that you leave at once, sir!" he said. "You are breaking and entering!"

"Please...like Hagrid will listen"..said Seamus.

"Ah, shut up, Dursley, yeh great prune," said the giant;

Many students chuckled at that. 

he reached over the back of the sofa, jerked the gun out of Uncle Vernon's hands, bent it into a knot as easily as if it had been made of rubber, and threw it into a corner of the room.

" Hagrid,you are AWESOME!" Sirius announced.

Uncle Vernon made another funny noise, like a mouse being trodden on.

"Anyway — Cassi," said the giant, turning his back on the Dursleys, "a very happy birthday to yeh. Got summat fer yeh here — I mighta sat on it at some point, but it'll taste all right."

From an inside pocket of his black overcoat he pulled a slightly squashed box. Cassi opened it with trembling fingers. Inside was a large, sticky chocolate cake with Happy Birthday Cassiopeia  written on it in green icing.

"One of Cassi's favourite color's"...said Hermione softly.

"Yeah, another one is grey"..commented Ron.

 

Cassiopeia smiled. She remembered her first ever birthday cake. How could she not?

Cassiopeia looked up at the giant. She meant to say thank you, but the words got lost on the way to her mouth, and what she said instead was, "Who are you?"

Before Hermione could start a lecture about her manners or the lack of them, Hagrid told her not to worry. He understood that she probably was shocked.

The giant chuckled.

"True, I haven't introduced meself. Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts."

He held out an enormous hand and shook Cassiopeia 's whole arm.

"What about that tea then, eh?" he said, rubbing his hands together. "I'd not say no ter summat stronger if yeh've got it, mind."

"Hagrid!" Professor McGonagall exclaimed.

"Don't even think about it"..supported her Molly Weasley.

His eyes fell on the empty grate with the shriveled chip bags in it and he snorted. He bent down over the fireplace; they couldn't see what he was doing but when he drew back a second later, there was a roaring fire there. It filled the whole damp hut with flickering light and Cassiopeia felt the warmth wash over her as though she'd sunk into a hot bath.

The giant sat back down on the sofa, which sagged under his weight, and began taking all sorts of things out of the pockets of his coat: a copper kettle, a squashy package of sausages, a poker, a teapot, several chipped mugs, and a bottle of some amber liquid that he took a swig from before starting to make tea.

Soon the hut was full of the sound and smell of sizzling sausage. Nobody said a thing while the giant was working, but as he slid the first six fat, juicy, slightly burnt sausages from the poker, Dudley fidgeted a little. Uncle Vernon said sharply, "Don't touch anything he gives you, Dudley."

"Like Hagrid would want him to, please, bitch"..said George.

"George Weasley! Mind your language"..his mother scowled. "There are children here"..she added, probably to make them all know she didn't completely disagree with the "bitch part".

The giant chuckled darkly.

"Yer great puddin' of a son don' need fattenin' anymore, Dursley, don' worry."

"You are absolutely right,Hagrid. It is not healthy"..said Madam Pomfrey.

He passed the sausages to Cassiopeia, who was so hungry she had never tasted anything so wonderful, but she still couldn't take her eyes off the giant. Finally, as nobody seemed about to explain anything, she said, "I'm sorry, but I still don't really know who you are."

"Good! Don't trust him just because he gave you some food! You never know which side he is on..." Mad-eye shouted.

Tonk rolled her eyes. He would never change.

The giant took a gulp of tea and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

"Call me Hagrid," he said, "everyone does. An' like I told yeh, I'm Keeper of Keys at Hogwarts — yeh'll know all about Hogwarts, o' course.

"Uh-oh, she really doesn't"..whispered Dennis Creevey.

"Er — no," said Cassiopeia.

Hagrid looked shocked.

"Sorry," Cassi said quickly.

"What do you have to apologize for?" Neville asked,feeling confused.

"Sorry?" barked Hagrid, turning to stare at the Dursleys, who shrank back into the shadows. "It's them as should be sorry! I knew yeh weren't gettin' yer letters but I never thought yeh wouldn't even know abou' Hogwarts, fer cryin' out loud! Did yeh never wonder where yer parents learned it all?"

"All what?" asked Cassiopeia.

"That will do.."laughed Bill.

"ALL WHAT?" Hagrid thundered.

"The Dursleys will be in for it now!" Remus said.

"Now wait jus' one second!"

He had leapt to his feet. In his anger he seemed to fill the whole hut. The Dursleys were cowering against the wall.

"Do you mean ter tell me," he growled at the Dursleys, "that this girl— this girl! — knows nothin' abou' — about ANYTHING?"

Cassiopeia thought this was going a bit far. She had been to school, after all, and her marks weren't bad.

"He didn't mean it like that, dear".. Professor Sprout said kindly.

"I know some things," she said. "I can, you know, do math and stuff."

Professor Sprout chuckled.

But Hagrid simply waved his hand and said, "About our world, I mean. Your world. My world. Yer parents' world ."

"What world?"

Hagrid looked as if he was about to explode.

"DURSLEY!" he boomed.

"Yes! Hagrid, do something rash!" Sirius shouted.

Uncle Vernon, who had gone very pale, whispered something that sounded like "Mimblewimble."

"Not even a word"..Hermione was back to her bossy and "I know everything" mood.

Hagrid stared wildly at Cassiopeia. "But yeh must know about yer mom and dad," he said. "I mean, they're famous . You're famous ."

"What? My — my mom and dad weren't famous, were they?"

"Really,Potter? Thats your question? He said you were famous.." said Malfoy sarcastically.

"Lay off, ferret!"..shouted Ron.

"Well, Malfoy, since I didn't know anything about my parents at that time, yes, that was my first question."..Cassiopeia was irritated.

Snape didn't want to hear it. This..this just showed that she was not as he believed. He didn't want to admit it. "No, no, he thought. She will change here at Hogwarts..here she became female version of James bloody Potter".

"Yeh don' know… yeh don' know…" Hagrid ran his fingers through his hair, fixing Cassi with a bewildered stare.

"Yeh don' know what yeh are?" he said finally.

Uncle Vernon suddenly found his voice.

"I wish he didn't "..said Nott.

"Stop!" he commanded. "Stop right there, sir! I forbid you to tell the girl anything!"

"Because that will stop Hagrid." Professor McGonagall said, while smiling smugly.

A braver man than Vernon Dursley would have quailed under the furious look Hagrid now gave him; when Hagrid spoke, his every syllable trembled with rage.

"You never told her? Never told her what was in the letter Dumbledore left fer her? I was there! I saw Dumbledore leave it, Dursley! An' you've kept it from her all these years?"

" It's really scandalous if you think about it. They tried to hide your heritage"..commented Kingsley.

"Kept what from me?" said Cassiopeia eagerly.

"Of course I bloody was"..said girl muttered.

"STOP! I FORBID YOU!" yelled Uncle Vernon in panic.

Aunt Petunia gave a gasp of horror.

"Dramatic much, eh?"..Seamus couldn't hold his annoyance anymore. He whispered to Dean.."Mate, they are horrible. If Cassi is going to be back there..maybe we should try to keep an eye on her, when in muggle world"

Dean Thomas nodded in agreement. 

"Ah, go boil yer heads, both of yeh," said Hagrid. "Cassiopeia — yer a witch."

There was silence inside the hut. Only the sea and the whistling wind could be heard.

"I'm a what?" gasped Cassi.

" Best answer ever"..joked Bill Weasley.

"A witch, o' course," said Hagrid, sitting back down on the sofa, which groaned and sank even lower, "an' a thumpin' good 'un, I'd say, once yeh've been trained up a bit.

"Hagrid is a seer"!..shouted Justin.

"Damn right, Cass is one of the best and strongest"..agreed Katie Bell.

Malfoy sneered and Shape tried not to snort. "She is talentless.. he thought.."

Cassiopeia was blushing.

With a mum an' dad like yours, what else would yeh be?

"Too true, too true"..the Professors muttered.

"You parents were very strong and talented, indeed."..Dumbledore commented.

An' I reckon it's abou' time yeh read yer letter."

"Finally!!"..said Hannah

"It's about a bloody time"..muttered Sirius.

Cassiopeia stretched out her hand at last to take the yellowish envelope, addressed in emerald green to Miss. C. Black-Potter, The Floor, Hut-on-the-Rock, The Sea. Sh e pulled out the letter and read:

HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY

Headmaster: ALBUS DUMBLEDORE

(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock, Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards)

Dear Miss. Black-Potter,

What she didn't  understand was why the letter addressed to her as a "Miss Black"..but she thought she would ask it latter. Her relatives were irritated enough.  (A/N I thought for my AU moments I will use a different type of print otherwise many would skip it or wouldn't notice)

We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.

Term begins on September 1. We await your owl by no later than July 31.

Yours sincerely,

Minerva McGonagall,

Deputy Headmistress

Questions exploded inside Cassiopeia's head like fireworks and she couldn't decide which to ask first. After a few minutes she stammered, "What does it mean, they await my owl?"

"You are the best"..said Bill trying not to laugh

"It was the last thing the letter said!" Cassi tried to defend herself.

"Gallopin' Gorgons, that reminds me," said Hagrid, clapping a hand to his forehead with enough force to knock over a cart horse, and from yet another pocket inside his overcoat he pulled an owl — a real, live, rather ruffled-looking owl a long quill, and a roll of parchment. With his tongue between his teeth he scribbled a note that Cassiopeia could read upside down:

"Impressive, my dear girl"..said Dumbledore, chuckling lightly.

Dolores was thinking hard. The book so far did nothing good for her. The brat was shown in a good light. And what was wrong with this old fool..just what kind of relations he had with the girl. They seems close. Yes, Dolores wasn't happy.

Dear Professor Dumbledore,

Given Cassiopeia her letter.

Taking her to buy her things tomorrow.

Weather's horrible. Hope you're well.

Hagrid

"Love it, Hagrid..love it..""the weather is horrible"..said Fred 

Hagrid rolled up the note, gave it to the owl, which clamped it in its beak, went to the door, and threw the owl out into the storm. Then he came back and sat down as though this was as normal as talking on the telephone.

"Tele,..what?"...asked a confused first year pureblood Slytherin girl.

"Why don't you all write down what you didn't understand and I explain it later"..asked Professor Burbage.

Cassiopeia realized her mouth was open and closed it quickly.

"You are so sweet, good manners"..cooed Molly.

Ron rolled his eyes and smirked. When it come's to Cassiopeia his mother was..well...

"Where was I?" said Hagrid, but at that moment, Uncle Vernon, still ashen-faced but looking very angry, moved into the firelight.

"She's not going," he said.

" Come again?"..said Terry

"Like you are going to stop her"..muttered Anthony Goldstein.

Hagrid grunted.

"I'd like ter see a great Muggle like you stop him," he said.

"You tell him, Hagrid"...Anthony laughed.

"Go Hagrid, Go Hagrid!"..Lee was chanting 

"A what?" said Cassi, interested.

"A Muggle," said Hagrid, "it's what we call nonmagic folk like them. An' it's your bad luck you grew up in a family o' the biggest Muggles I ever laid eyes on."

"Yes, very...very bad luck"..commented Andromeda, while her eyes were sending daggers in Fudge directions. Corrupted bastard.

"We swore when we took her in we'd put a stop to that rubbish," said Uncle Vernon, "swore we'd stamp it out of her! Witch indeed!"

"You scum, I will stamp out the life out of you"..roared Sirius Black.

"You knew?" said Cassiopeia. "You knew I'm a — a witch"

Many people's expressions grew dark. 

Snape pressed his lips. "Oh, of course they knew, he thought."

"Knew!" shrieked Aunt Petunia suddenly. "Knew! Of course we knew! How could you not be, my dratted sister being what she was?

"LILY WAS NOT DRATTED!"..Mooney was trying to break free.

Snape did agree with Lupin. In his opinion Petunia was the dratted one.

Oh, she got a letter just like that and disappeared off to that — that school — and came home every vacation with her pockets full of frog spawn, turning teacups into rats.

I was the only one who saw her for what she was — a freak!

"Look who is talking, how dare she,,her own sister!"...Professor Flitwick screamed.

But for my mother and father, oh no, it was Lily this and Lily that, they were proud of having a witch in the family!"

"As they should be!"..yelled the majority of the Hall.

"Jealousy is an ugly thing"..Luna commented seriously.

She stopped to draw a deep breath and then went ranting on. It seemed she had been wanting to say all this for years.

"Probably was"...muttered Severus Snape.

"Then she met that Potter at school and they left and got married and had you, and of course I knew you'd be just the same, just as strange, just as — as —abnormal — and then, if you please, she went and got herself blown up and we got landed with you!"

"WHAT?! THATS HOW YOU FOUND OUT!?"...Molly Wesley looked like an angry tiger.

Cassiopeia had gone very white. As soon as she found her voice she said, "Blown up? You told me they died in a car crash!"

"CAR CRASH!" roared Hagrid, jumping up so angrily that the Dursleys scuttled back to their corner. "How could a car crash kill Lily an' James Potter? It's an outrage! A scandal! Cassiopeia Potter not knowin' her own story when every kid in our world knows her name!"

"But why? What happened?" Cassiopeia asked urgently.

The anger faded from Hagrid's face. He looked suddenly anxious.

"I don't blame him. Imagine being the one..the one to tell her.."whispered Professor Sprout.

"I never expected this," he said, in a low, worried voice. "I had no idea, when Dumbledore told me there might be trouble gettin' hold of yeh, how much yeh didn't know. Ah, Cassiopeia, I don' know if I'm the right person ter tell yeh — but someone's gotta — yeh can't go off ter Hogwarts not knowin'."

Ron was white. If Hagrid didn't tell her...he..he might have been the one..he didn't want to think about it.

He threw a dirty look at the Dursleys.

"Well, it's best yeh know as much as I can tell yeh — mind, I can't tell yeh everythin', it's a great myst'ry, parts of it…"

He sat down, stared into the fire for a few seconds, and then said, "It begins, I suppose, with — with a person called — but it's incredible yeh don't know his name, everyone in our world knows —"

"Who?"

"Well — I don' like sayin' the name if I can help it. No one does."

"Not if you are Dumbledore or Cassiopeia"..remind everyone George.

"Why not?"

"Gulpin' gargoyles, Cassi, people are still scared. Blimey, this is difficult. See, there was this wizard who went… bad. As bad as you could go. Worse. Worse than worse. His name was…"

Hagrid gulped, but no words came out.

"Could you write it down?" She suggested.

"Nah — can't spell it. All right

Voldemort. "

"Wow, you actually said it,Hagrid?"..Remus was impressed.

Hagrid shuddered. "Don' make me say it again. Anyway, this — this wizard, about twenty years ago now, started lookin' fer followers. Got 'em, too — some were afraid, some just wanted a bit o' his power, 'cause he was gettin' himself power, all right. Dark days, Cassiopeia. Didn't know who ter trust, didn't dare get friendly with strange wizards or witches… terrible things happened. He was takin' over. 'Course, some stood up to him — an' he killed 'em. Horribly. One o' the only safe places left was Hogwarts. Reckon Dumbledore's the only one You-Know-Who was afraid of. Didn't dare try takin' the school, not jus' then, anyway.

"Now, yer mum an' dad were as good a witch an' wizard as I ever knew. Head boy an' girl at Hogwarts in their day! Suppose the myst'ry is why You-Know-Who never tried to get 'em on his side before…

"Oh. he did alright"..muttered Ma-eye.

"Really, but my mother..?..trailed Cassi

"You mother was damn powerful. Talented and strong, it was enough in her case,apparently . And you father..well, the son of the Potters and Blacks, a lot of influence and power. Not to mention he was a powerful wizard himself Our families go way back. The family grimoires are legendary"..explained Sirius.

Many looked at her jealously.

"We will talk some more later, it is time for you to take over your heritage. With our help of course"..finished Remus.

probably knew they were too close ter Dumbledore ter want anythin' ter do with the Dark Side.

"Evil side, Hagrid"..commented Albus. Dark does not mean evil, as you all should know. Every person  magical core is different. Some dark, some light, some grey  Balance is very important for our community.

"It is not you core colour, but your choice what is truly matter. said Luna.

"Well said,well said, take twenty points, Miss Lovegood"..Dumbledore was proud.

Her House mates shifted. Many of them treated her horribly..they were worried now.

"Maybe he thought he could persuade 'em… maybe he just wanted 'em outta the way. All anyone knows is, he turned up in the village where you was all living, on Halloween ten years ago. You was just a year old. He came ter yer house an' — an' —"

Several people started to sniff. McGonagall the loudest of them.

Hagrid suddenly pulled out a very dirty, spotted handkerchief and blew his nose with a sound like a foghorn.

"Sorry," he said. "But it's that sad — knew yer mum an' dad, an' nicer people yeh couldn't find — anywa…

"You-Know-Who killed 'em. An' then — an' this is the real myst'ry of the thing — he tried to kill you, too. Wanted ter make a clean job of it, I suppose, or maybe he just liked killin' by then. But he couldn't do wondered how you got that mark on yer forehead? That was no ordinary cut. That's what yeh get when a powerful, evil curse touches yeh — took care of yer mum an' dad an' yer house, even — but it didn't work on you, an' that's why yer famous, Cassi. No one ever lived after he decided ter kill 'em, no one except you, an' he'd killed some o' the best witches an' wizards of the age — the McKinnons, the Bones, the Prewetts

There was a moment of silence.

Molly was sobbing. She missed her brothers...they were so young and full of life. How she hated that damn war.

Amelia and Susan were trying not to cry too.

Yaxley..Susan thought. That was the name of the scum who killed her entire family. She promised to herself that she will make him pay.

an' you was only a baby, an' you lived."

"Thanks Merlin"..said Sirius, looking at her with so much care and love.

Something very painful was going on in Cassi's mind. As Hagrid's story came to a close, she saw again the blinding flash of green light, more clearly than she had ever remembered it before — and she remembered something else, for the first time in her life: a high, cold, cruel laugh.

All the Professors were appalled. Was it normal?

He friends looked very sad at her.

Hermione was bitting her lip.

Cassiopeia grimaced.

Hagrid was watching her sadly.

"Took yeh from the ruined house myself, on Dumbledore's orders. Brought yeh ter this lot…."

"Load of old tosh," said Uncle Vernon. Cassi jumped; she had almost forgotten that the Dursleys were there. Uncle Vernon certainly seemed to have got back his courage. He was glaring at Hagrid and his fists were clenched.

"Now, you listen here, girl," he snarled, "I accept there's something strange about you, probably nothing a good beating wouldn't have cured

There was a loud roar in the Hall. Remus eyes were flashing with fury.

"Just you try,,I dare you..."he said with so much venom and hate, that people shifted around him.

-and as for all this about your parents, well, they were weirdoes, no denying it, and the world's better off without them in my opinion

Albus was livid.To say something like this? How could he be so wrong..Lily's sacrifice protected her from the outside danger..But what about the danger that was coming from her own family?

Molly.Sirius, Remus were on they feet. It was hard to understand what they were yelling..

"..kill"

"..rip your throat"

"...break into small pieces"

It was a while before anyone could breath calmly.

Amelia was writing furiously all the while trying not to bite her own lip of.

asked for all they got, getting mixed up with these wizarding types — just what I expected, always knew they'd come to a sticky end -"

"You will come to sticky end..you bloody garbage"..exclaimed Ron.

But at that moment, Hagrid leapt from the sofa and drew a battered pink umbrella from inside his coat.

Pointing this at Uncle Vernon like a sword, he said, "I'm warning you, Dursley — I'm warning you — one more word…"

"Give him Hell"..strangely it came from the Slytherin table. Tracey was sending a dark glare to the book.

"In danger of being speared on the end of an umbrella by a bearded giant, Uncle Vernon's courage failed again; he flattened himself against the wall and fell silent.

"That's better," said Hagrid, breathing heavily and sitting back down on the sofa, which this time sagged right down to the floor.

Cassiopeia , meanwhile, still had questions to ask, hundreds of them.

"But what happened to Vol-, sorry — I mean, You-Know-Who?"

"Good question, Cassiopeia. Disappeared. Vanished. Same night he tried ter kill you. Makes yeh even more famous. That's the biggest myst'ry, see… he was gettin' more an' more powerful — why'd he go?

"Some say he died. Codswallop, in my opinion. Dunno if he had enough human left in him to die.

Dumbledore sighed.

"He didn't  "..muttered Cassiopeia, remembering the end of her forth year.

Some say he's still out there, bidin' his time, like, but I don' believe it. People who was on his side came back ter ours. Some of 'em came outta kinda trances. Don' reckon they could've done if he was comin' back.

"Most of us reckon he's still out there somewhere but lost his powers. Too weak to carry on. 'Cause somethin' about you finished him, Cassiopeia. There was somethin' goin' on that night he hadn't counted on — I dunno what it was, no one does — but somethin' about you stumped him, all right."

Hagrid looked at Cassi with warmth and respect blazing in his eyes, but Cassiopeia, instead of feeling pleased and proud, felt quite sure there had been a horrible mistake. A witch? Her? How could she possibly be? she'd spent her life being clouted by Dudley, and bullied by Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon; if she was really a witch, why hadn't they been turned into warty toads every time they'd tried to lock her in her cupboard? If she'd once defeated the greatest sorcerer in the world, how come Dudley had always been able to kick her around like a football?

"It doesn't work that way, my dear"..smiled Albus.

"Hagrid," she said quietly, "I think you must have made a mistake. I don't think I can be a witch"

"No, din't"..Hagrid smiled at her from his place.

To her surprise, Hagrid chuckled.

"Not a witch, eh? Never made things happen when you was scared or angry?"

Cassiopeia looked into the fire. Now she came to think about it… every odd thing that had ever made her aunt and uncle furious with her had happened when she, Cassiopeia, had been upset or angry… chased by Dudley's gang, she had somehow found herself out of their reach… dreading going to school with that ridiculous haircut, she'd managed to make it grow back… and the very last time Dudley had hit her, hadn't she got her revenge, without even realizing she was doing it? Hadn't she set a boa constrictor on him?

"Brilliant that was"..said George happily.

Cassiopeia looked back at Hagrid, smiling, and saw that Hagrid was positively beaming at her.

"See?" said Hagrid. "Cassiopeia Potter, not a witch — you wait, you'll be right famous at Hogwarts."

"Yeppppp...like that's a good thing"..she muttered.

Snape looked at her. Why did she behave like she didn't enjoy her fame?

But Uncle Vernon wasn't going to give in without a fight.

"Uhhhh, Hagrid, do something. I can't stand it any longer"..Charlie said.

"Haven't I told you she's not going?" he hissed. "She's going to Stonewall High and she'll be grateful for it. I've read those letters and she needs all sorts of rubbish — spell books and wands and —"

"If she wants ter go, a great Muggle like you won't stop her," growled Hagrid. "Stop Lily an' James Potter's girl goin' ter Hogwarts! Yer mad. Her name's been down ever since she was born.

"Oh..my.."Rufus couldn't help it. Since the day she was born?? Just how powerful was she?

"What..what are you looking at me..?"..Cassi asked panicking. 

"Well, Cassiopeia, usually you get your name down when you showed the first little signs of magic..to have your name written down in the same day you were born.."tried to explained Remus.

"Only the most powerful witches and wizards can get it"..said Albus proudly.

Cassiopeia was a ball of nerves. People were looking at her. She didn't want more attention.

Ron and Hermione moved closer to her and together with Neville were throwing many dangerous glares to anyone who dared to ask anything.

"Please do continue, Mister Weasley"..said Dumbeldore in a voice which had no room for any arguments.

She's off ter the finest school of witchcraft and wizardry in the world. Seven years there and she won't know herself. She'll be with youngsters of her own sort, fer a change, an' she'll be under the greatest headmaster Hogwarts ever had Albus Dumbled—"

Dumbledore smiled happily at a blushing Hagrid.

"Agreed"..said Cassiopeia.

Dumbledore beamed at her, his heart light.

"I AM NOT PAYING FOR SOME CRACKPOT OLD FOOL TO TEACH HIM MAGIC TRICKS!" yelled Uncle Vernon.

"Uh-oh"..muttered someone

"Dear Merlin"..said Parvati.

"He is in for it"..concluded Bill.

But he had finally gone too far. Hagrid seized his umbrella and whirled it over his head, "NEVER —" he thundered, "— INSULT — ALBUS — DUMBLEDORE — IN — FRONT — OF — ME!" He brought the umbrella swishing down through the air to point at Dudley — there was a flash of violet light, a sound like a firecracker, a sharp squeal, and the next second, Dudley was dancing on the spot with his hands clasped over his fat bottom, howling in pain. When he turned his back on them, Cassi saw a curly pig's tail poking through a hole in his trousers.

"YEAH! GO HAGRID!" and the twins got up to do a happy dance.

Minerva McGonagall clapped her hands.

Dumbledore just chuckled his eyes with twinkle.

Sirius roared with laugh.

And even Molly Weasley seems to be happy with such an event.

Uncle Vernon roared. Pulling Aunt Petunia and Dudley into the other room, he cast one last terrified look at Hagrid and slammed the door behind them.

Hagrid looked down at his umbrella and stroked his beard.

"Shouldn'ta lost me temper," he said ruefully, "but it didn't work anyway. Meant ter turn him into a pig, but I suppose he was so much like a pig anyway there wasn't much left ter do."

The Great Hall burst into laughter again.

He cast a sideways look at Cassi under his bushy eyebrows.

"Be grateful if yeh didn't mention that ter anyone at Hogwarts," he said. "I'm — er — not supposed ter do magic, strictly speakin'. I was allowed ter do a bit ter follow yeh an' get yer letters to yeh an' stuff — one o' the reasons I was so keen ter take on the job."

"Why aren't you supposed to do magic?" asked Cassi sadly.

 

"Oh, well — I was at Hogwarts meself but I — er — got expelled, ter tell yeh the truth. In me third year. They snapped me wand in half an' everything. But Dumbledore let me stay on as gamekeeper. Great man, Dumbledore."

"Why were you expelled?"

"He won't tell you"..Remus said.

"Yeah. James and I tried to find out..but"..Sirius commented.

The Golden Trio looked at each other and smirked.

"No way! You DID find out!"..it wasn't a question, but a statement.

"Second book"..they sing song together.

Finally, people will know. Hagrid will be cleared.

"It's gettin' late and we've got lots ter do tomorrow," said Hagrid loudly. "Gotta get up ter town, get all yer books an' that."

He took off his thick black coat and threw it to Cassiopeia.

"You can kip under that," he said. "Don' mind if it wriggles a bit, I think I still got a couple o' doormice in one o' the pockets."

"That was good..for a change"..muttered Wayne Hopkins a forth year Hufflepuff.

That was the end of this chapter. Announced Fred.

Who is next?

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Chapter 6.

 

"I think I will carry on after my brother"..announced George.

 

                                                                                                                     Diagon Alley,"

 

"One of the best places!" Cassi said while smiling.

Cassiopeia woke early the next morning. Although she could tell it was daylight, she kept her eyes shut tight.

It was a dream, s he told herself firmly. I dreamed a giant called Hagrid came to tell me I was going to a school for magic When I open my eyes I'll be at home in my cupboard.

"Oh, Cassi.."Andy shocked her head sadly.

There was suddenly a loud tapping noise.

And there's Aunt Petunia knocking on the door , Cassi thought, her heart sinking.

But she still didn't open her eyes. It had been such a good dream.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

"All right," she mumbled, "I'm getting up."

"You are a serious pessimist."..said Oliver Rivers, a Hufflepuff boy.

She sat up and Hagrid's heavy coat fell off her. The hut was full of sunlight, the storm was over, Hagrid himself was asleep on the collapsed sofa, and there was an owl rapping its claw on the window, a newspaper held in its beak.

Cassiopeia scrambled to her feet, so happy she felt as though a large balloon was swelling inside her. She went straight to the window and jerked it open.

" The owl swooped in and dropped the newspaper on top of Hagrid, who didn't wake up. The owl then fluttered onto the floor and began to attack Hagrid's coat.

"Don't do that."

She tried to wave the owl out of the way,

"Not going to work." Hermione said, she was happier now, that Cassi was about to go Hogwarts.

but it snapped its beak fiercely at her and carried on savaging the coat.

"Hagrid!" said Cassiopeia loudly. "There's an owl —"

"Pay him," Hagrid grunted into the sofa.

"She is not going to understand!" Professor Flitwick whispered.

"What?"

"He wants payin' fer deliverin' the paper. Look in the pockets."

Hagrid's coat seemed to be made of nothing but pockets — bunches of keys, slug pellets, balls of string, peppermint humbugs, teabags… finally, Cassiopeia pulled out a handful of strange-looking coins.

"Give him five Knuts," said Hagrid sleepily.

"Hagrid…"  said Remus.

"Knuts?"

"The little bronze ones."

Cass counted out five little bronze coins, and the owl held out his leg so her could put the money into a small leather pouch tied to it. Then he flew off through the open window.

Hagrid yawned loudly, sat up, and stretched.

"Best be off, Cassiopeia, lots ter do today, gotta get up ter London an' buy all yer stuff fer school."

Cassi was turning over the wizard coins and looking at them. She had just thought of something that made her feel as though the happy balloon inside her had got a puncture.

"Um — Hagrid?"

"Mm?" said Hagrid, who was pulling on his huge boots.

"I haven't got any money — and you heard Uncle Vernon last night… he won't pay for me to go and learn magic."

"But you are a Potter.."..started Lily Moon

However, Adrian gave her a look before Lily could finish.

"She probably didn't know"..he whispered.

"Mmm,never mind me, please continue, Weasley"..she said slightly embarrassed.

"Don't worry about that," said Hagrid, standing up and scratching his head. "D'yeh think yer parents didn't leave yeh anything?"

"But if their house was destroyed —"

"They didn' keep their gold in the house, Cassi! Nah, first stop fer us is Gringotts. Wizards' bank. Have a sausage, they're not bad cold — an' I wouldn' say no teh a bit o' yer birthday cake, neither."

"Wizards have banks?"

"Honestly Cassi, we aren't so different." Fred said amused.

"Just the one. Gringotts. Run by goblins."

"Better not to mess with..."trailed Bill.

Cassi dropped the bit of sausage she was holding.

"Goblins?"

"Yeah — so yeh'd be mad ter try an' rob it, I'll tell yeh that. Never mess with goblins, Cassiopeia.

"Well, thats settled..the Golden Trio will do it at one point"..laughed Seamus.

"Oi! We are not that mad"..shouted Ron.

People gave him a pointed look. 

Ron turned his head, looked at his best friend and thought better of it..

"Well, maybe you are right.."he continued nervously.

"Hey! What is this supposed to mean, I am not insane"..scowled Cassi.

"Oh, dear all Blacks and Potters are..a bit.."..Andromeda added lightly.

"Cassi.."Hermione signed.."You didn't stand a chance, you are both after all"

The Great hall exploded with laugher.

Gringotts is the safest place in the world fer anything yeh want ter keep safe — 'cept maybe Hogwarts. As a matter o' fact, I gotta visit Gringotts anyway. Fer Dumbledore. Hogwarts business." Hagrid drew himself up proudly. "He usually gets me ter do important stuff fer him. Fetchin' you — gettin' things from Gringotts — knows he can trust me, see."

"Shouldn't have said that in front of Cassiopeia!" Professor Sprout said.

"Why not?"..asked a first year Gryffindor curiously.

"Well, as the book well tell you...she is the daughter of James Potter and a godchild of Sirius Black..and this means trouble"..explained Minerva.

"Got everythin'? Come on, then." Cassi followed Hagrid out onto the rock. The sky was quite clear now and the sea gleamed in the sunlight. The boat Uncle Vernon had hired was still there, with a lot of water in the bottom after the storm.

"How did you get here?" Cassiopeia asked, looking around for another boat.

"Flew," said Hagrid.

"Flew?"

"Yeah — but we'll go back in this. Not s'pposed ter use magic now I've got yeh."

They settled down in the boat, Cass still staring at Hagrid, trying to imagine him flying.

"Seems a shame ter row, though," said Hagrid, giving Cassiopeia another of his sideways looks. "If I was ter — er — speed things up a bit, would yeh mind not mentionin' it at Hogwarts?"

"Of course not," said Cassiopeia, eager to see more magic.

Hermione sighed. That was Cassiopeia, all right.

Hagrid pulled out the pink umbrella again, tapped it twice on the side of the boat, and they sped off toward land.

"Why would you be mad to try and rob Gringotts?" Cassi asked.

"You see...she is already planing"..shouted Seamus.

"Spells — enchantments," said Hagrid, unfolding his newspaper as he spoke. "They say there's dragons guardin' the high security vaults.

"Better not to be..." growled Charlie.

Bill looked nervous..."I wouldn't know, honestly!"..he tried to assure his dragons-crazy brother.

And then yeh gotta find yer way — Gringotts is hundreds of miles under London, see. Deep under the Underground. Yeh'd die of hunger tryin' ter get out, even if yeh did manage ter get yer hands on summat."

Cassi sat and thought about this while Hagrid read his newspaper, the Daily Prophet . She had learned from Uncle Vernon that people liked to be left alone while they did this, but it was very difficult, she'd never had so many questions in her life.

"Ministry o' Magic messin' things up as usual," Hagrid muttered, turning the page.

Dolores wanted to say something, but Rufus and Amelia silenced her with one look.

Fudge went red.

"There's a Ministry of Magic?" Cassiopeia asked, before she could stop herself.

"There is nothing wrong with the desire to learn, Miss Black-Potter"...assured her Professor Flitwick.

"'Course," said Hagrid. "They wanted Dumbledore fer Minister, o' course, but he'd never leave Hogwarts, so old Cornelius Fudge got the job. Bungler if ever there was one. So he pelts Dumbledore with owls every morning, askin' fer advice."

"He did no such a thing!!!" The toad scowled.

"Really? Because I know for a fact that Mister Fudge here was sending a letter each day right until Miss Potter..eee..Black-Potter's forth year"..announced Amelia.

"But what does a Ministry of Magic do?"

"Ohhh...I don't know..for the last 16 years ? Nothing big"..said Fred

"Fred, don't say it!..Hermione frowned.."They liked to spread lies about a fifteen years old girl...she added smirking. Clearly she didn't forget Cassiopeia's last year.

"Well, their main job is to keep it from the Muggles that there's still witches an' wizards up an' down the country."

"Why?"

 

"Why? Blimey, Cassi, everyone'd be wantin' magic solutions to their problems. Nah, we're best left alone."

At this moment the boat bumped gently into the harbor wall. Hagrid folded up his newspaper, and they clambered up the stone steps onto the street.

Passersby stared a lot at Hagrid as they walked through the little town to the station. Cassi couldn't blame them. Not only was Hagrid twice as tall as anyone else, he kept pointing at perfectly ordinary things like parking meters and saying loudly, "See that, Cass? Things these Muggles dream up, eh?"

"Hagrid," said Cassiopeia, panting a bit as she ran to keep up, "did you say there are dragons at Gringotts?"

"Well, so they say," said Hagrid. "Crikey, I'd like a dragon."

"You'd like one?"

"Oh yes he does." Cass whispered to Ron. Ron grimaced.

"Wanted one ever since I was a kid — here we go."

They had reached the station. There was a train to London in five minutes' time. Hagrid, who didn't understand "Muggle money," as he called it, gave the bills to Cassiopeia so she could buy their tickets.

People stared more than ever on the train. Hagrid took up two seats and sat knitting what looked like a canary-yellow circus tent.

"Still got yer letter, Cassi?" he asked as he counted stitches.

Cassiopeia took the parchment envelope out of her pocket.

"Good," said Hagrid. "There's a list there of everything yeh need."

Cassi unfolded a second piece of paper she hadn't noticed the night before, and read:

HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY

UNIFORM

First-year students will require:

1. Three sets of plain work robes (black)

2. One plain pointed hat (black) for day wear

3. One pair of protective gloves (dragon hide or similar)

4. One winter cloak (black, silver fastenings)

Please note that all pupils' clothes should carry name tags

COURSE BOOKS

All students should have a copy of each of the following:

The Standard Book of Spells (Grade 1)by Miranda Goshawk

A History of Magic by Bathilda  Bagshot

Magical Theory by Adalbert Waffling

A Beginners' Guide to Transfiguration by Emeric Switch

One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi by Phyllida Spore

Magical Drafts and Potions by Arsenius Jigger

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander

The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection by Quentin Trimble

OTHER EQUIPMENT

1 wand

1 cauldron (pewter, standard size 2)

1 set of glass or crystal phials

1 telescope set

1 brass scales

Students may also bring an owl OR a cat OR a toad

PARENTS ARE REMINDED THAT FIRST YEARS ARE NOT ALLOWED THEIR OWN BROOMSTICKS

"Unless you are a bloody Potter"...sneered Malfoy.

Higgs send him a dirty look. He was a seeker before Malfoy bought his way. He knew for a fact, that the Potter girl was one of the best in the sport. Her name has nothing to do with it.

"Can we buy all this in London?" Cassi wondered aloud.

"YES" everyone shouted.

"If yeh know where to go," said Hagrid.

Cass had never been to London before. Although Hagrid seemed to know where he was going, he was obviously not used to getting there in an ordinary way. He got stuck in the ticket barrier on the Underground, and complained loudly that the seats were too small and the trains too slow.

"I don't know how the Muggles manage without magic," he said as they climbed a broken-down escalator that led up to a bustling road lined with shops.

Hagrid was so huge that he parted the crowd easily; all Cassi had to do was keep close behind him. They passed book shops and music stores, hamburger restaurants and cinemas, but nowhere that looked as if it could sell you a magic wand. This was just an ordinary street full of ordinary people. Could there really be piles of wizard gold buried miles beneath them? Were there really shops that sold spell books and broomsticks? Might this not all be some huge joke that the Dursleys had cooked up?

If Cassiopeia hadn't known that the Dursleys had no sense of humor, she might have thought so; yet somehow, even though everything Hagrid had told her so far was unbelievable, she couldn't help trusting him.

Hagrid beamed.

"This is it," said Hagrid, coming to a halt, "the Leaky Cauldron. It's a famous place."

It was a tiny, grubby-looking pub. If Hagrid hadn't pointed it out, Cassiopeia wouldn't have noticed it was there. The people hurrying by didn't glance at it. Their eyes slid from the big book shop on one side to the record shop on the other as if they couldn't see the Leaky Cauldron at all. In fact, she had the most peculiar feeling that only she and Hagrid could see it.

Before she could mention this, Hagrid had steered her inside.

For a famous place, it was very dark and shabby. A few old women were sitting in a corner, drinking tiny glasses of sherry. One of them was smoking a long pipe. A little man in a top hat was talking to the old bartender, who was quite bald and looked like a toothless walnut. The low buzz of chatter stopped when they walked in. Everyone seemed to know Hagrid; they waved and smiled at him, and the bartender reached for a glass, saying, "The usual, Hagrid?"

"Can't, Tom, I'm on Hogwarts business," said Hagrid, clapping his great hand on Cassiopeia's shoulder and making Cassi's knees buckle.

Hagrid looked like he was sorry.

Cassiopeia just smiled. 

"Good Lord," said the bartender, peering at Cassi, "is this — can this be —?"

The Leaky Cauldron had suddenly gone completely still and silent.

"Bless my soul," whispered the old bartender, "Cassiopeia Potter… what an honor."

He hurried out from behind the bar, rushed toward Cassiopeia and seized her hand, tears in his eyes.

Snape snorted, as if she needs more admiration.

"Welcome back, Miss. Potter, welcome back."

Cassi didn't know what to say. Everyone was looking at her. The old woman with the pipe was puffing on it without realizing it had gone out. Hagrid was beaming.

Many looked shocked at her. It seems like Cassiopeia really didn't like her fame.

Then there was a great scraping of chairs and the next moment, Cassiopeia  found herself shaking hands with everyone in the Leaky Cauldron.

"Doris Crockford, Miss. Potter, can't believe I'm meeting you at last."

"So proud, Miss. Potter, I'm just so proud."

Shape rolled his eyes.

"Always wanted to shake your hand — I'm all of a flutter."

"Delighted, Miss. Potter, just can't tell you, Diggle's the name, Dedalus Diggle."

"I've seen you before!" said Cassiopeia, as Dedalus Diggle's top hat fell off in his excitement. "You bowed to me once in a shop."

"You have jus made his day"..said Remus.

"A day..a week probably"..laughed Tonks.

"She remembers!" cried Dedalus Diggle, looking around at everyone. "Did you hear that? She remembers me!" Cassi shook hands again and again — Doris Crockford kept coming back for more.

A pale young man made his way forward, very nervously. One of his eyes was twitching.

"Professor Quirrell!" said Hagrid. "Cassiopeia, Professor Quirrell will be one of your teachers at Hogwarts."

"P-P-Potter," stammered Professor Quirrell, grasping Cassi's hand, "c-can't t-tell you how p-pleased I am to meet you."

The Golden trio muttered under their breath.

"..can't believe I didn't see it."

"..bloody coward. "

"...all the evidence...all the evidence"

"What sort of magic do you teach, Professor Quirrell?"

"D-Defense Against the D-D-Dark Arts," muttered Professor Quirrell, as though he'd rather not think about it.

Mad-eye curled his lips in disgust.

"N-not that you n-need it, eh, P-P-Potter?"

"Of course she needs it, you idiot"..shouted Sirius. He didn't like that one.

He laughed nervously. "You'll be g-getting all your equipment, I suppose? I've g-got to p-pick up a new b-book on vampires, m-myself." He looked terrified at the very thought.

But the others wouldn't let Professor Quirrell keep her to himself. It took almost ten minutes to get away from them all. At last, Hagrid managed to make himself heard over the babble.

"Must get on — lots ter buy. Come on, Cassi."

"Thanks for that,Hagrid. I was so overwhelmed "..Cassi said. 

 

Doris Crockford shook Cassioeia's hand one last time, and Hagrid led them through the bar and out into a small, walled courtyard, where there was nothing but a trash can and a few weeds.

Hagrid grinned at Cassi.

"Told yeh, didn't I? Told yeh you was famous. Even Professor Quirrell was tremblin' ter meet yeh — mind you, he's usually tremblin'."

"Is he always that nervous?"

"Oh, yeah. Poor bloke. Brilliant mind. He was fine while he was studyin' outta books but then he took a year off ter get some firsthand experience… They say he met vampires in the Black Forest, and there was a nasty bit o' trouble with a hag — never been the same since. Scared of the students, scared of his own subject — now, where's me umbrella?"

Vampires? Hags? Cassi's head was swimming. Hagrid, meanwhile, was counting bricks in the wall above the trash can.

"It was something worse, much worse" Cassiopeia muttered quietly.

Not quit enough for Remus,however.

He looked at her worriedly.

"Three up… two across…" he muttered. "Right, stand back, Cassiopeia."

He tapped the wall three times with the point of his umbrella.

The brick he had touched quivered — it wriggled — in the middle, a small hole appeared — it grew wider and wider — a second later they were facing an archway large enough even for Hagrid, an archway onto a cobbled street that twisted and turned out of sight.

"Welcome," said Hagrid, "to Diagon Alley."

 

He grinned at Cassiopeia's amazement. They stepped through the archway. Cassi looked quickly over her shoulder and saw the archway shrink instantly back into solid wall.

The sun shone brightly on a stack of cauldrons outside the nearest shop. Cauldrons — All Sizes — Copper, Brass, Pewter, Silver — Self-Stirring — Collapsible, said a sign hanging over them.

"Yeah, you'll be needin' one," said Hagrid, "but we gotta get yer money first."

Cass wished she had about eight more eyes.

"I know the feeling"..said Hermione, smiling.

"Me too"..muttered many muggleborns

She turned her head in every direction as they walked up the street, trying to look at everything at once: the shops, the things outside them, the people doing their shopping. A plump woman outside an Apothecary was shaking her head as they passed, saying, "Dragon liver, sixteen Sickles an ounce, they're mad…"

A low, soft hooting came from a dark shop with a sign saying Eeylops Owl Emporium — Tawny, Screech, Barn, Brown, and Snowy. Several boys of about Cassiopeia's age had their noses pressed against a window with broomsticks in it. "Look," she heard one of them say, "the new Nimbus Two Thousand — fastest ever —"

There were shops selling robes, shops selling telescopes and strange silver instruments Cassiopeia had never seen before, windows stacked with barrels of bat spleens and eels' eyes, tottering piles of spell books, quills, and rolls of parchment, potion bottles, globes of the moon…

"Gringotts," said Hagrid.

They had reached a snowy white building that towered over the other little shops. Standing beside its burnished bronze doors, wearing a uniform of scarlet and gold, was —

"Yeah, that's a goblin," said Hagrid quietly as they walked up the white stone steps toward him. The goblin was about a head shorter than Cassi. He had a swarthy, clever face, a pointed beard and, she noticed, very long fingers and feet. He bowed as they walked inside. Now they were facing a second pair of doors, silver this time, with words engraved upon them:

"I love this poem" Luna said in a happy voice.

Enter, stranger, but take heed

Of what awaits the sin of greed,

For those who take, but do not earn,

Must pay most dearly in their turn.

So if you seek beneath our floors

A treasure that was never yours,

Thief, you have been warned, beware

Of finding more than treasure there.

"Like I said, Yeh'd be mad ter try an' rob it," said Hagrid.

"Unless you are CASSIOPEIA"..yelled Fred.

A pair of goblins bowed them through the silver doors and they were in a vast marble hall. About a hundred more goblins were sitting on high stools behind a long counter, scribbling in large ledgers, weighing coins in brass scales, examining precious stones through eyeglasses. There were too many doors to count leading off the hall, and yet more goblins were showing people in and out of these. Hagrid and Cassi made for the counter.

"Morning," said Hagrid to a free goblin. "We've come ter take some money outta Miss. Cassiopeia Potter's safe."

"You have her key, sir?"

"Got it here somewhere," said Hagrid, and he started emptying his pockets onto the counter, scattering a handful of moldy dog biscuits over the goblin's book of numbers.

"Bet he didn't like that." Bill said grinning.

The goblin wrinkled his nose. Cassi watched the goblin on their right weighing a pile of rubies as big as glowing coals.

"Got it," said Hagrid at last, holding up a tiny golden key.

The goblin looked at it closely.

"That seems to be in order."

"An' I've also got a letter here from Professor Dumbledore," said Hagrid importantly, throwing out his chest. "It's about the You-Know-What in vault seven hundred and thirteen."

"You really shouldn't have said that." Remus whispered, glancing at his cub.

The goblin read the letter carefully.

"Very well," he said, handing it back to Hagrid, "I will have Griphook on it.

Griphook was yet another goblin. Once Hagrid had crammed all the dog biscuits back inside his pockets, he and Cassiopeia followed Griphook toward one of the doors leading off the hall.

"What's the You-Know-What in vault seven hundred and thirteen?" she asked.

"And, here it is..the curiosity of Potter and Black."..commented Minerva

"Can't tell yeh that," said Hagrid mysteriously. "Very secret. Hogwarts business. Dumbledore's trusted me. More'n my job's worth ter tell yeh that."

Griphook held the door open for them. Cassi, who had expected more marble, was surprised. They were in a narrow stone passageway lit with flaming torches. It sloped steeply downward and there were little railway tracks on the floor. Griphook whistled and a small cart came hurtling up the tracks toward them. They climbed in — Hagrid with some difficulty — and were off.

At first they just hurtled through a maze of twisting passages. Cassiopeia tried to remember, left, right, right, left, middle fork, right, left, but it was impossible.

"Impressive"..said Albus, smiling,

"I couldn't remember that much"..muttered Mione.

The rattling cart seemed to know its own way, because Griphook wasn't steering.

 

Cassi's eyes stung as the cold air rushed past them, but she kept them wide open. Once, she thought she saw a burst of fire at the end of a passage and twisted around to see if it was a dragon, but too late

they plunged even deeper, passing an underground lake where huge stalactites and stalagmites grew from the ceiling and floor.

"I never know," Cassi called to Hagrid over the noise of the cart, "what's the difference between a stalagmite and a stalactite?"

"Stalagmite's got an 'm' in it," said Hagrid.

"Good answer Hagrid!" a Hufflepuff shouted.

"An' don' ask me questions just now, I think I'm gonna be sick."

He did look very green, and when the cart stopped at last beside a small door in the passage wall, Hagrid got out and had to lean against the wall to stop his knees from trembling.

Griphook unlocked the door. A lot of green smoke came billowing out, and as it cleared, Cassiopeia gasped. Inside were mounds of gold coins. Columns of silver. Heaps of little bronze Knuts.

"All yours," smiled Hagrid.

"It is just your trust vault"..whispered Sirius to her, so no one could hear.

All Cassi's — it was incredible. The Dursleys couldn't have known about this or they'd have had it from her faster than blinking.

"They didn't. I thought it was better not to inform them"..announced Albus.

How often had they complained how much Cassi cost them to keep? And all the time there had been a small fortune belonging to her, buried deep under London. Hagrid helped Cassi pile some of it into a bag.

"The gold ones are Galleons," he explained. "Seventeen silver Sickles to a Galleon and twenty-nine Knuts to a Sickle, it's easy enough. Right, that should be enough fer a couple o' terms, we'll keep the rest safe for yeh." He turned to Griphook. "Vault seven hundred and thirteen now, please, and can we go more slowly?"

"One speed only," said Griphook.

They were going even deeper now and gathering speed. The air became colder and colder as they hurtled round tight corners. They went rattling over an underground ravine, and Cassi leaned over the side to try to see what was down at the dark bottom, but Hagrid groaned and pulled her back by the scruff of her neck.

"Do you have a death wish?"..someone called.

 

Vault seven hundred and thirteen had no keyhole.

"Stand back," said Griphook importantly. He stroked the door gently with one of his long fingers and it simply melted away.

"If anyone but a Gringotts goblin tried that, they'd be sucked through the door and trapped in there," said Griphook.

"How often do you check to see if anyone's inside?" Cassi asked.

"About once every ten years," said Griphook with a rather nasty grin.

"I hate it when they have that look!" Neville said, shuddering.

Something really extraordinary had to be inside this top security vault, Cassiopeia  was sure, and she leaned forward eagerly, expecting to see fabulous jewels at the very least but at first she thought it was empty. Then she noticed a grubby little package wrapped up in brown paper lying on the floor.

Hagrid picked it up and tucked it deep inside his coat. Cassi longed to know what it was, but knew better than to ask.

"Yeah, but we found out anyways." Ron said with the grin.

"Come on, back in this infernal cart, and don't talk to me on the way back, it's best if I keep me mouth shut," said Hagrid.

One wild cart ride later they stood blinking in the sunlight outside Gringotts. Cassiopeia didn't know where to run first now that she had a bag full of money. She didn't have to know how many Galleons there were to a pound to know that she was holding more money than she'd had in her whole life — more money than even Dudley had ever had.

Ron geve her a sad smile. He understood it all too well.

"Might as well get yer uniform," said Hagrid, nodding toward Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions. "Listen, Cassi, would yeh mind if I slipped off fer a pick-me-up in the Leaky Cauldron? I hate them Gringotts carts." He did still look a bit sick, so Cassiopeia entered Madam Malkin's shop alone, feeling nervous.

"Hagrid, you didn't jus leave her  alone!"..exclaimed Molly.

"Don't worry, Missis Weasley. He had a good reason"..Cassi said defending Hagrid.

Madam Malkin was a squat, smiling witch dressed all in mauve.

"Hogwarts, dear?" she said, when Cassiopeia started to speak. "Got the lot here — another young man being fitted up just now, in fact."

"And...eneter the ferret junior"..Ron's said loudly. 

Draco Malfoy sank in his seat. It wasn't good. He told Professor Snape and his fellow housemates this story from HIS point of view..which wasn't very accurate.

In the back of the shop, a boy with a pale, pointed face was standing on a footstool while a second witch pinned up his long black robes. Madam Malkin stood Cassiopeia on a stool next to him slipped a long robe over her head, and began to pin it to the right length.

"Hello," said the boy, "Hogwarts, too?"

"Yes," said Cassi.

"My father's next door buying my books and mother's up the street looking at wands," said the boy.

" The wand chooses the wizard, Malfoy, in case you have missed it."..commented Terry Boot.

Draco just scowled. He couldn't find anything to say.That Boot guy was right, not that he will ever admit it.

He had a bored, drawling voice.

" I do not! How dare.." Draco's cheeks were pink.

"Be quit and do not force me to silence you with the spell"..gritted his teeth Cassius Warrington.

"Then I'm going to drag them off to look at racing brooms. I don't see why first years can't have their own. I think I'll bully father into getting me one and I'll smuggle it in somehow."

Snape looked suspicious. This story so far was nothing like Draco has told him. 

Cassiopeia was strongly reminded of Dudley.

"Don't you dare to compare me to that filthy muggle. I am a wizard, I am a pureblood"..Draco couldn't hold it. How dare..He is a Malfoy..how dare!! He was almost hysterical, such an insult!

"Mister Malfoy do I need to remind you, that I cannot take points for your PAST actions, but can easily do it for the present ones?"..Professor Mcgnagall said sharply. Honestly, that boy was so spoiled and arrogant. Severus was blind, too busy imagining something in Cassiopeia, so he didn't see a bully under his nose.

Many Slytherins glared at Malfoy heir. That was why other houses judged them unfairly, because of the brats like Malfoy and his stupid gang.

"Have you got your own broom?" the boy went on.

"No," said Cassi.

"Play Quidditch at all?"

"No," Cassiopeia said again, wondering what on earth Quidditch could be.

"Oh myyy...imagine Oliver's face"...laugh Fred.

Angelina and Alicie were laughing hard,

"Actually, he was on his way..received a message about this reading too..I think he was more exited about seeing his best-ever-in -the-world-bla-bla seeker, than his old school"..said Katie.

Cassiopeia was smilling fondly. She missed her old Capitan.

Theo Nott and Terence Higgs looked at Adrian worriedly. Their friend's fists were clenched too hard, for their liking.

"I do — Father says it's a crime if I'm not picked to play for my house, and I must say, I agree. Know what house you'll be in yet?"

"No one does before the Sorting, Mister Malfoy"..said Professor Sprout sternly.

"No," said Cassi, feeling more stupid by the minute.

" You shouldn't have,Cassiopeia. You are far from it"..said Mister Weasley kindly.

"Well, no one really knows until they get there, do they, but I know I'll be in Slytherin, all our family have been — imagine being in Hufflepuff, I think I'd leave, wouldn't you?"

"Oi! There is nothing wrong with our house"..shouted the Hufflepuffs, glaring at Malfoy.

"Mmm," said Cassiopeia, wishing she could say something a bit more interesting.

"I say, look at that man!" said the boy suddenly, nodding toward the front window. Hagrid was standing there, grinning at Cassi and pointing at two large ice creams to show he couldn't come in.

"Oh, Hadrid..how sweet."..cooed Missis Weasley.

"That's Hagrid," said Cassiopeia, pleased to know something the boy didn't. "He works at Hogwarts."

"Oh," said the boy, "I've heard of him. He's a sort of servant, isn't he?"

"Mister Malfoy, Hagrid is not a servent."...stated Albus Dumbledore.

"He's the gamekeeper," said Cassiopeia. She was liking the boy less and less every second.

" With a good reason, I would say. I am ashamed to be related to you!!"..shouted Tonks, her hear changing to bloody red.

"Yes, exactly. I heard he's a sort of savage lives in a hut on the school grounds and every now and then he gets drunk, tries to do magic, and ends up setting fire to his bed."

Remus was laughing so hard..."No, no..I am sorry Hagrid, I am not laughing at you..its just.." he couldn't finish the sentence.

Sirius was grining madly.."What Mister overhere is trying to tell you..is that it was myself and James Potter, we got sort of...ehhh..well.."he didn't dare to say that they got drunk. He wasn't crazy enough to say it in front of Molly and Minerva, he wouldn't hear the end of it.

"I think he's brilliant," said Cassi coldly.

Hagrid beamed at her. "Thanks, Cassi"

"It is the truth,Hagrid, I think you are one of the kindest and bravest people I have ever met.

Dumbledore sent her a proud smile. Merlin knows, Hagrid needed to her this things more.

"Do you?" said the boy, with a slight sneer. "Why is he with you? Where are your parents?"

"They're dead," said Cassiopeia shortly. She didn't feel much like going into the matter with this boy.

"Oh, sorry," said the other, not sounding sorry at all.

Ron glared at Malfoy.

Snape pressed his lips so tight they were white by now. That was nothing like Draco's story. Just how many times did he lie to him?

His house was thinking the very same thing. Draco was complaining that Cassiopeia was rude to him, she was arrogant and insulted him the first time they met. Slytherins didn't like to be fooled.

The brat needed a lesson many of them thought.

"But they were our kind, weren't they?"

"Draco..."..Snape groaned. Lucius's influence, he didn't doubt. Severus cared deeply for his godson, but it seems he didn't do a good job as a godfather at all. He didn't dare look at Potter and Black. Not after he was criticising Black's godparent ability.

"They were a witch and wizard, if that's what you mean."

"Very good answer, Cassi, very diplomatic"...complimented her Andromeda.

"I really don't think they should let the other sort in, do you? They're just not the same, they've never been brought up to know our ways. Some of them have never even heard of Hogwarts until they get the letter, imagine. I think they should keep it in the old wizarding families. What's your surname, anyway?"

"Well, how they supposed to know about it, if they were living in a Muggle world. We don't have lessons about Wizarding culture and traditions. The majority of the books with old ways are hold in the family Library"..stated Cassiopeia. 

Here many teachers, even Snape looked impress and pensive.

Albus smiled and decided to press the issue. "I agree, my dear girl, I was arguing about it so many times, alas not the school board nether the Ministry paid attention. What would you proposed?"

"I think,Professor that we have a serious integration issues. We have a muggle studies here, but its just an elective course. If I could change something,I probably would make both The Wizarding Culture and Studies and The Muggle studies mandatory. So we all could understand each other better. We could respect different traditions and do not misjudge it for something evil.  Another thing, I would probably open something like magical pre-school. Where muggleborns, halfbloods and even purebloods could all study together..say one or two years before Hogwarts.

Rufus and Amelia were writing fast, nodding their heads. Why nobody even proposed it before? A sixteen year old teenager had more sense than many of them.

Many pureblood looked appalled. When she puts it like that..well they could not blame muggleborns or halfbloods for disrespect any longer, could they?

But before Cassiopeia could answer, Madam Malkin said, "That's you done, my dear," and Cassi, not sorry for an excuse to stop talking to the boy, hopped down from the footstool.

"Cant really blame her"..muttered Astoria Greengrass.

"Well, I'll see you at Hogwarts, I suppose," said the drawling boy.

"Unfortunately "..muttered Ron.

But his mood was better. Ron was bloody proud about his best friend. She truly did have brilliant minds. 

Cassiopeia was rather quiet as she ate the ice cream Hagrid had bought her (chocolate and raspberry with chopped nuts).

"My favourite"..Sirius exclaimed with a happy smile.

"What's up?" said Hagrid.

"Nothing," Cassi lied.

"Oh, Cassi, you are a terrible liar when it comes to people you care about"..Hermione commented.

"Unless it is a grave danger"..Ron stated.

They stopped to buy parchment and quills. Cassiopeia cheered up a bit when she found a bottle of ink that changed color as you wrote. When they had left the shop, she said, "Hagrid, what's Quidditch?"

"Blimey, Cassi, I keep forgettin' how little yeh know — not knowin' about Quidditch!"

"Exactly" How could you...my best seeker"..There was a new voice. People turned they heads and saw Oliver Wood in all his glory, standing near the doors.

Cassiopeia jumped from her place and run fast. She threw herself at her old Capitan and gave him a hug.

Adrian Pucey chocked on his drink. "Wood? Cassiopeia and Wood..?"

Zabini rolled his eyes. Honestly, was Adrian blind? Cassiopeia wouldn't jump at him so freely if they were together. She was a private person, even Blaise knew it.

"Oliver, you old boy, welcome back"..shouted Fred.

Minerva smiled. She was glad so many of her lions were here.

Oliver walked with Cassiopeia to his old table and made himself comfortable. Nevertheless, he did not miss Pucey glare, he wasn't  one of the best keeper's for nothing. 

"Interesting"..he thought.

"Don't make me feel worse," said Cassi. She told Hagrid about the pale boy in Madam Malkin's.

"— and he said people from Muggle families shouldn't even be allowed in —"

"Yer not from a Muggle family. If he'd known who yeh were he's grown up knowin' yer name if his parents are wizardin' folk. You saw what everyone in the Leaky Cauldron was like when they saw yeh. Anyway, what does he know about it, some o' the best I ever saw were the only ones with magic in 'em in a long line o' Muggles — look at yer mum! Look what she had fer a sister!"

"Good point!" said Professor Flitwick.

"So what is Quidditch?"

"Only the best sport in the world"..said Oliver dreamy.

"James would have fainted if he heard you.."..said Remus, amused.

"It's our sport. Wizard sport. It's like — like soccer in the Muggle world — everyone follows Quidditch — played up in the air on broomsticks and there's four balls — sorta hard ter explain the rules."

"And what are Slytherin and Hufflepuff?"

"School houses. There's four. Everyone says Hufflepuff are a lot o' duffers, but —"

"Are not!" the Hufflepuff house and Professor Sprout shouted.

"He didn't mean it like that. I didn't let him finish"..Cassiopeia was fast to defend Hagrid.

"I bet I'm in Hufflepuff," said Cassi gloomily.

"I would be proud to have you in my house"..said Professor Sprout.

"Better Hufflepuff than Slytherin," said Hagrid darkly. "There's not a single witch or wizard who went bad who wasn't in Slytherin. You-Know-Who was one."

"Thank you, Hagrid. But not all of us are evil"..glared Snape.

Cassiopeia didn't think it was quit true. Surely, there were some good Slytherins, right? You can't really judge everyone without even knowing them. That was something her ant and Vernon would do. So, naturally she promised herself that she wouldn't. 

Albus beamed at her.

Snape looked torn. He was glad and he wasn't. If only he could open his eyes and see Cassiopeia and not James.

He hold a grudge for more than sixteen years. Honestly!

Slytherins looked pleased. 

Adrian was trying not to grin like a fool.

"Vol-, sorry —You-Know-Who was at Hogwarts?"

"Really. Really,Cassi?"..signed Ron.

"I didn't want make Hagrid fell uncomfortable." she answered.

"Years an' years ago," said Hagrid.

"I can't imagine You-Know-Who as a little boy".. Padma said, startled.

"Trust me, you do not want too"..answered Cassiopeia gravely. She saw him as a teenager and it was enough.

They bought Cassiopeia's school books in a shop called Flourish and Blotts where the shelves were stacked to the ceiling with books as large as paving stones bound in leather; books the size of postage stamps in covers of silk; books full of peculiar symbols and a few books with nothing in them at all. Even Dudley, who never read anything, would have been wild to get his hands on some of these. Hagrid almost had to drag Cassi away from Curses and Countercurses (Bewitch Your Friends and Befuddle Your Enemies with the Latest Revenges: Hair Loss, Jelly-Legs, Tongue-Tying and Much, Much More) by Professor Vindictus Viridian.

"You shouldn't have, Hagrid! Better to be ready, enemies are everywhere"..shouted Mad-eye.

"Don't worry, Andy sent me this book as a gift."..smiled Cassi.

Andromeda grinned madly.

Students flinch. Bloody hell...those Black are mad, they really are..

"I was trying to find out how to curse Dudley."

"Thats my girl! I am so proud!!"..announced Sirius Black.

Defiantly...definitely mad..were the thoughts of many people.

"I'm not sayin' that's not a good idea, but yer not ter use magic in the Muggle world except in very special circumstances," said Hagrid. "An' anyway, yeh couldn' work any of them curses yet, yeh'll need a lot more study before yeh get ter that level."

Hagrid wouldn't let Cassi buy a solid gold cauldron, either ("It says pewter on yer list"), but they got a nice set of scales for weighing potion ingredients and a collapsible brass telescope. Then they visited the Apothecary, which was fascinating enough to make up for its horrible smell, a mixture of bad eggs and rotted cabbages. Barrels of slimy stuff stood on the floor; jars of herbs, dried roots, and bright powders lined the walls; bundles of feathers, strings of fangs, and snarled claws hung from the ceiling. While Hagrid asked the man behind the counter for a supply of some basic potion ingredients for Cassi,  Cassiopeia herself examined silver unicorn horns at twenty-one Galleons each and minuscule, glittery-black beetle eyes (five Knuts a scoop).

Outside the Apothecary, Hagrid checked Cassi's list again.

"Just yer wand left — A yeah, an' I still haven't got yeh a birthday present."

Cassi felt herself go red.

 

"Damn you, muggles"..thought Molly Weasley.

"You don't have to —"

"I know I don't have to. Tell yeh what, I'll get yer animal. Not a toad, toads went outta fashion years ago, yeh'd be laughed at

an' I don' like cats, they make me sneeze. I'll get yer an owl. All the kids want owls, they're dead useful, carry yer mail an' everythin'."

Cassiopeia smiled fondly. She loved her owl.

Twenty minutes later, they left Eeylops Owl Emporium, which had been dark and full of rustling and flickering, jewel-bright eyes. Cassi now carried a large cage that held a beautiful snowy owl, fast asleep with her head under her wing. She couldn't stop stammering her thanks, sounding just like Professor Quirrell.

"So polite, so sweet"..Molly could be heard muttering.

"Don' mention it," said Hagrid gruffly. "Don' expect you've had a lotta presents from them Dursleys. Just Ollivanders left now — only place fer wands, Ollivanders, and yeh gotta have the best wand."

A magic wand… this was what Cassiopeia had been really looking forward to.

"Everyone does"..many students said.

The last shop was narrow and shabby. Peeling gold letters over the door read Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 B.C. A single wand lay on a faded purple cushion in the dusty window.

A tinkling bell rang somewhere in the depths of the shop as they stepped inside. It was a tiny place, empty except for a single, spindly chair that Hagrid sat on to wait. Cassi felt strangely as though she had entered a very strict library; she swallowed a lot of new questions that had just occurred to her and looked instead at the thousands of narrow boxes piled neatly right up to the ceiling. For some reason, the back of her neck prickled.

Moody looked curios at her. Could she sense and see magic? Well, that was damn useful. He would train her, oh yes, he would.

The very dust and silence in here seemed to tingle with some secret magic.

"It is" whispered Professor Vector in awe.

Albus looked impress.

Hermione frowned. "I didn't feel anything like that".

"Moine, some people have this gift..some of them stronger than others. They could sort of see magic or sense it." explained Ron.

"Good afternoon," said a soft voice. Cassi jumped. Hagrid must have jumped, too, because there was a loud crunching noise and he got quickly off the spindly chair.

An old man was standing before them, his wide, pale eyes shining like moons through the gloom of the shop.

"Hello," said Cassiopeia awkwardly.

"Ah yes," said the man. "Yes, yes. I thought I'd be seeing you soon. Cassiopeia Black- Potter." It wasn't a question. "You have your mother's eyes. It seems only yesterday she was in here herself, buying her first wand. Ten and a quarter inches long, swishy, made of willow. Nice wand for charm work."

"It was.." said Professor Flitwick sadly. 

Mr. Ollivander moved closer to Cassi. Cassiopeia wished he would blink. Those silvery eyes were a bit creepy.

"Yes, they are really creepy." Dean answered.

"Your father, on the other hand, favoured a mahogany wand. Eleven inches. Pliable. A little more power and excellent for transfiguration.

"James was brilliant..so talented"..Professor Mcgnagall said, with the tears in her eyes. No matter what she said, the Marauders were her best students. She loved them dearly.

Well, I say your father favoured it — it's really the wand that chooses the wizard, of course."

Terry Boot smirked at Malfoy. He had this look .."I told you so".

Malfoy just glared back.

Mr. Ollivander had come so close that he and Cassiopeia were almost nose to nose. Cassi could see herself reflected in those misty eyes.

"And that's where…"

Mr. Ollivander touched the lightning scar on Cassi's forehead with a long, white finger.

"Really, really creepy"..muttered a seven year raven.

"I'm sorry to say I sold the wand that did it," he said softly. "Thirteen-and-a-half inches. Yew. Powerful wand, very powerful, and in the wrong hands… well, if I'd known what that wand was going out into the world to do…"

"He would have sold it anyway..a wand chooses it wizard. Not the other way"..said Ron.

"I do agree. Mister Weasley. Good point"..Dumbledore said.

Ron went pink.

He shook his head and then, to Cassi's relief, spotted Hagrid.

"Rubeus! Rubeus Hagrid! How nice to see you again… Oak, sixteen inches, rather bendy, wasn't it?"

"It was, sir, yes," said Hagrid.

"Good wand, that one. But I suppose they snapped it in half when you got expelled?" said Mr. Ollivander, suddenly stern.

"Er — yes, they did, yes," said Hagrid, shuffling his feet. "I've still got the pieces, though," he added brightly.

"But you don't use them?" said Mr. Ollivander sharply.

"Oh, no, sir," said Hagrid quickly. Harry noticed he gripped his pink umbrella very tightly as he spoke.

"Of course not"..said Fred teasingly. 

"Hmmm," said Mr. Ollivander, giving Hagrid a piercing look. "Well, now — Miss. Black-Potter. Let me see." He pulled a long tape measure with silver markings out of his pocket. "Which is your wand arm?"

"Er — well, I'm right-handed," said Cassiopeia.

"Me too, me too"..shouted Collin Creevey proudly.

Gryffindors just rolled their eyes. Collin was obsessed with Cassi. But he was a good guy.

"Hold out your arm. That's it." He measured Cassiopeia from shoulder to finger, then wrist to elbow, shoulder to floor, knee to armpit and round her head. As he measured, he said, "Every Ollivander wand has a core of a powerful magical substance, Miss. Potter. We use unicorn hairs, phoenix tail feathers, and the heartstrings of dragons. No two Ollivander wands are the same, just as no two unicorns, dragons, or phoenixes are quite the same. And of course, you will never get such good results with another wizard's wand."

Neville was glad his Gran finally got him his own wand. He did feel closer to his father while using his old wand. But the problem was..he wasn't Frank. Neville hoped his Grandmother has finally realised it.

Cassiopeia suddenly realized that the tape measure, which was measuring between her nostrils, was doing this on its own.

Mr. Ollivander was flitting around the shelves, taking down boxes.

"That will do," he said, and the tape measure crumpled into a heap on the floor. "Right then, Miss. Black-Potter. Try this one. Beechwood and dragon heartstring. Nine inches. Nice and flexible. just take it and give it a wave."

"Noppp, not even close"..said Ron

Cassiopeia took the wand and (feeling foolish) waved it around a bit, but Mr. Ollivander snatched it out of her hand almost at once.

"Maple and phoenix feather. Seven inches. Quite whippy. Try —"

"Not really, but closer"..commented Mione

Cassi tried — but she had hardly raised the wand when it, too, was snatched back by Mr. Ollivander.

"No, no — here, ebony and unicorn hair, eight and a half inches, springy. Go on, go on, try it out."

"Wrong one"..Neville continued.

Cassiopeia tried. And tried.

"How many did you tried"..asked Tracey politely.

If Cassiopeia was surprised, she didn't show it.

" I am not sure, honestly. More than thirty, that for sure."

"Bloody Merlin, I only tried five!"..muttered Seamus.

She had no idea what Mr. Ollivander was waiting for. The pile of tried wands was mounting higher and higher on the spindly chair, but the more wands Mr. Ollivander pulled from the shelves, the happier he seemed to become.

"My old friend does love a challenge"..announced Albus, stroking his beard.

"Tricky customer, eh? Not to worry, we'll find the perfect match here somewhere — I wonder, now — yes, why not — unusual combination — holly and phoenix feather, eleven inches, nice and supple."

"Biiiiingoooo"..sang Fred.

Cassiopeia took the wand. She felt a sudden warmth in his fingers.

"Definitely the one"..said Susan.

She raised the wand above her head, brought it swishing down through the dusty air and a stream of red and gold sparks shot from the end like a firework, throwing dancing spots of light on to the walls.

Hagrid whooped and clapped and Mr. Ollivander cried, "Oh, bravo! Yes, indeed, oh, very good. Well, well, well… how curious… how very curious…"

"What, what is so curious"...asked Lavender, sensing gossips.

He put Cassi's wand back into its box and wrapped it in brown paper, still muttering, "Curious… curious…"

"Sorry," said Cassiopeia, "but what's curious?"

Mr. Ollivander fixed Cassi with his pale stare.

"I remember every wand I've ever sold, Miss. Black-Potter. Every single wand. It so happens that the phoenix whose tail feather is in your wand, gave another feather — just one other. It is very curious indeed that you should be destined for this wand when its brother — why, its brother gave you that scar."

People turned to stare at Cassiopeia. The Hall went completely silent. 

"Mm, but,,but what does it mean for Cassiopeia? Does it mean that she is just as powerful.." ..started to ask a third year raven.

"The Fate works curiously, doesn't it?. You should be destined for this wand..like you are another face of the coin. Maybe you will need to redeem the horrible thing the brother of your wand have done?"..announced Luna dreamy.

"Very good theory, Miss Lovegood. You know what, I think you should visit me for a tea. We could have many interesting conversations"..Dumbledore was impressed. Luna Lovegood was very interesting indeed. Was the girl a seer?

Cho Chang couldn't believe it. The Looney..interesting and wise...please. The girls was crazy.

Cassiopeia swallowed.

"Yes, thirteen-and-a-half inches. Yew. Curious indeed how these things happen. The wand chooses the wizard, or the witch remember… I think we must expect great things from you, Miss. Potter… After all, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named did great things — terrible, yes, but great."

"He...he is admiring...?"..asked Ernie in a small voice.

"I don't believe so, Ernie. Its more about the magic involved. If the things went differently, if he wasn't a mad monster...he could have done great by our World"..explained Cassiopeia.

"Well said,my girl, well said"..beamed Albus.

Cassiopeia shivered. She wasn't sure she liked Mr. Ollivander too much.

"Cant blame you, mate"..Ron said, sending her a reassuring smile. He knew about the wand already. Hermione and himself were so grateful for it..After all this "brother thing" saved her life.

She paid seven gold Galleons for her wand, and Mr. Ollivander bowed them from his shop.

The late afternoon sun hung low in the sky as Cassi and Hagrid made their way back down Diagon Alley, back through the wall, back through the Leaky Cauldron, now empty. Cassiopeia didn't speak at all as they walked down the road; she didn't even notice how much people were gawking at them on the Underground, laden as they were with all their funny-shaped packages, with the snowy owl asleep in its cage on Cassioeia's lap. Up another escalator, out into Paddington station; Cassi only realized where they were when Hagrid tapped her on the shoulder.

"Got time fer a bite to eat before yer train leaves," he said.

He bought her a hamburger and they sat down on plastic seats to eat them. Cassi kept looking around. Everything looked so strange, somehow.

"You all right, Cassiopeia? Yer very quiet," said Hagrid.

Cassiopeia wasn't sure she could explain. She'd just had the best birthday of her life — and yet — she chewed her hamburger, trying to find the words.

"Everyone thinks I'm special," she said at last.

"Because you are.."..said Sirius lovingly.

"All those people in the Leaky Cauldron, Professor Quirrell, Mr. Ollivander… but I don't know anything about magic at all. How can they expect great things? I'm famous and I can't even remember what I'm famous for. I don't know what happened when Vol-, sorry — I mean, the night my parents died."

People looked sadly at her, some blushed remembering there behaviour towards Cassi. It was like they all forget that she was a human too, not just some trophy to gawk at. They  were very embarrassed at the moment.

Hagrid leaned across the table. Behind the wild beard and eyebrows he wore a very kind smile.

"I love his smiles"..muttered Cassi rather quietly.

"Don' you worry, Cassiopeia. You'll learn fast enough. Everyone starts at the beginning at Hogwarts, you'll be just fine. Just be yerself. I know it's hard. Yeh've been singled out, an' that's always hard. But yeh'll have a great time at Hogwarts — I did — still do, 'smatter of fact."

"Thank you, Hagrid, for being so caring, for being there for Cassiopeia"..said Sirius Black with a sad smile.

"North'n to thank me fer"..Hagrid said. It was his pleasure. Cassiopeia was more important to him than Albus Dumbledore himself and that's saying something!

Hagrid helped Cassiopeia on to the train that would take her back to the Dursleys, then handed her an envelope.

"Yer ticket fer Hogwarts, " he said. "First o' September — King's Cross — it's all on yer ticket. Any problems with the Dursleys, send me a letter with yer owl, she'll know where to find me…. See yeh soon, Cassi."

The train pulled out of the station. Cassiopeia wanted to watch Hagrid until he was out of sight; she rose in her seat and pressed her nose against the window, but she blinked and Hagrid had gone.

"Well, folks..that was an excellent chapter"..said George, stretching his arms. 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Chapter 7.

 

"Hagrid, you didn't say how to get on the platform!"..Minerva exclaimed worriedly

"Don't worry, Professor. It worked out at the end."..said Cassiopeia happily.

She was actually glad, he didn't. She met Ron and his family. Her family.

She looked at Ron and wink.."Professor Dumbledore, I think one of the Weasley's should read this chapter".

"Why,,,my dear girl, such a splendid idea! her Headmaster answered, his eyes twinkling.

Arthur raised his hand and levitated the book to himself.

 

                                                                                    "The Journey From Platform Nine and Three-Quarters,"

 

Cassiopeia's last month with the Dursleys wasn't fun.

"Are they ever fun?..started Fred.

"Brother mine, did you pay attention? Those people have no sense of humour whatsoever"..finished George. 

T rue, Dudley was now so scared of Cassi he wouldn't stay in the same room,

"Excellent!"..stated Neville. The less of those Dursley people the better.

while Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon didn't shut Cassiopeia in her cupboard, force her to do anything, or shout at her — in fact, they didn't speak to her at all.

Luna sighed sadly. She knew what it was like, sometimes people would just ignored her because she was weird or different. Luna knew this horrible feeling all to well..loneliness. 

Half terrified, half furious, they acted as though any chair with Cassiopeia in it were empty.

Although this was an improvement in many ways, it did become a bit depressing after a while.

"I know what you mean"..Luna whispered. 

Her Head of the house, being part goblin himself, heard her, however. He send a hard look over the Raven's table. 

Cassiopeia kept to her room, with her new owl for company.

"I love your owl, she is such a beauty"..Astoria Greengrass announced.

Hedwig puffed her chest. Cassiopeia smiled at the Slytherin girl.

"Thank you. Not sure it is a good thing she heard you,though. Hedwig has such a big ego.."she laughed.

Snape sneered. "Like her owner"...He thought, but didn't dare to voice. Minerva MacGonagall was to close to his seat for his liking. 

She had decided to call her Hedwig, a name she had found in A History of Magic . Her school books were very interesting.

Hermione beamed proudly.

Ron looked horrified. 

"How could you...Cassi"..fake cried George.

"Noooo, nooooo...don't go over to the Dark side.." his brother sang with the tears.

" Fred, George, thats enough! There is nothing wrong with reading your school books!..shouted their mother.

She lay on her bed reading late into the night, Hedwig swooping in and out of the open window as she pleased. It was lucky that Aunt Petunia didn't come in to vacuum anymore, because Hedwig kept bringing back dead mice. Every night before she went to sleep, Cassiopeia ticked off another day on the piece of paper she had pinned to the wall, counting down to September the first.

"I did that too." Dean said softly.

"Me too. I was so exited"..agreed Hermione.

Ron snorted. "Ohhh, yeah.You were exited, we all remember that"

Mione glared at him. 

"Nothing new..." Cassiopeia thought fondly.

On the last day of August she thought she'd better speak to her aunt and uncle about getting to King's Cross station the next day,

"Good strategy, don't give them time to change their minds"..complimented her Moody.

so she went down to the living room where they were watching a quiz show on television. She cleared her throat to let them know she was there, and Dudley screamed and ran from the room.

The school houses burst into laughter.

The staff table smiled and snickered.

"Er — Uncle Vernon?"

Uncle Vernon grunted to show he was listening.

Ron whispered to Cassiopeia  "I think he speaks troll."

Cassiopeia burst into laughter herself. 

Many looked at them, but Mister Weasley continued with his reading.

"Er — I need to be at King's Cross tomorrow to — to go to Hogwarts."

Uncle Vernon grunted again.

"Would it be all right if you gave me a lift?"

Grunt. Cassi supposed that meant yes.

"Thank you."

"He doesn't really deserve your politeness." Professor Vector muttered.

She was about to go back upstairs when Uncle Vernon actually spoke.

"Funny way to get to a wizards' school, the train. Magic carpets all got punctures, have they?"

"They're illegal." Rufus answered simply.

Cassiopeia didn't say anything.

"Where is this school, anyway?"

"Scotland ," said Cassiopeia, she read about it, in the book.

She pulled the ticket Hagrid had given her out of her pocket.

"I just take the train from platform nine and three-quarters at eleven o'clock," she read.

Her aunt and uncle stared.

"Those bastards! Headmaster Dumbledore wrote them a bloody letter, He explained those things"..muttered Seamus,

"Forget Professor Dumbledore, Cassiopeia's mother-Lily, she was the bitch's sister, was she not?".. gritted her teeth Lavander.

Seamus, Dean and Parvati looked vicious.

Snape had a dirty look as well. 

"Platform what?"

"Nine and three-quarters."

"Don't talk rubbish," said Uncle Vernon. "There is no platform nine and three-quarters."

"It's on my ticket."

"Barking," said Uncle Vernon, "howling mad, the lot of them. You'll see. You just wait. All right, we'll take you to King's Cross. We're going up to London tomorrow anyway, or I wouldn't bother."

"Why are you going to London?" Cassi asked, trying to keep things friendly.

"Shouldn't even bother, bambi"..Sirius said.

"Taking Dudley to the hospital," growled Uncle Vernon. "Got to have that ruddy tail removed before he goes to Smeltings."

"Pity..should have left it"..announced Katie Bell.

Adrian Pucey thought that Bell had a point. Maybe he would visit this Private drive...and after he could give the little shit some more...Yes, that would be a good idea.

Cassiopeia woke at five o'clock the next morning and was too excited and nervous to go back to sleep.

"I did that as well" Hermione whispered.

"I am more surprised that she actually slept"..whispered Ron to Neville.

She got up and pulled on her jeans because she didn't want to walk into the station in her robes —

"That was pretty smart thinking." murmured Charlie.

She'd change on the train. She checked her Hogwarts list yet again to make sure she had everything she needed, saw that Hedwig was shut safely in her cage, and then paced the room, waiting for the Dursleys to get up.

She was so looking forward to her school years. She couldn't wait to learn more magic! Everything was so interested. She thought she would enjoy the  DADA, Charms, Transfigurations and Potions. Yes, Potions were so fascinating.  

Everyone in the Hall were looking at her with wide eyes.

"And what happened with your desire to learn my subject, I would like to know"..Shape asked in his cold voice.

"Oh, I am sure the books will tell you all about that..Professor"..the girl said without even looking at him.

Minerva pursed her lips and openly glared at her colleague.

Two hours later, Cassiopeia's huge, heavy trunk had been loaded into the Dursleys' car, Aunt Petunia had talked Dudley into sitting next to Cassiopeia, and they had set off.

"Bribery (cough) I suspect (cough) bribery.."muttered Seamus 

They reached King's Cross at half past ten. Uncle Vernon dumped Cassi's trunk onto a cart and wheeled it into the station for her.

"This is strangely kind,"..Adrian said

Cassiopeia thought this was strangely kind

Their both blushed a little.

"Wow, Cassi thinks like a snake"..sang Fred.

Sirius glared at the Slytherin table openly.

Ron and Neville gritted their teeth. "Not good." they thought. 

until Uncle Vernon stopped dead, facing the platforms with a nasty grin on his face.

"Ewww"..muttered Dennis.

"Well, there you are, girl. Platform nine — platform ten. Your platform should be somewhere in the middle, but they don't seem to have built it yet, do they?"

He was quite right, of course. There was a big plastic number nine over one platform and a big plastic number ten over the one next to it, and in the middle, nothing at all.

Severus felt irritated. That blasted Tuney knew exactly where the platform was.

"Have a good term," said Uncle Vernon with an even nastier smile. He left without another word. Cassiopeia turned and saw the Dursleys drive away. All three of them were laughing.

"THEY JUST LEFT YOU THERE!! YOU COULD HAVE BEEN KIDNAPPED!""..shouted Molly, her overprotective nature breaking free.

"I think they kind of hoped..."..Cassi started, but one look at the her friends and family was enough to shut her. 

Cassiopeia's mouth went rather dry. What on earth was she going to do? She was starting to attract a lot of funny looks, because of Hedwig. She'd have to ask someone.

"Pfff, you are so stupid, Potter!" Draco sneered.

"I would like to see you without daddy in the muggle world, ferret! And its Black-Potter, by the way"...said Cassiopeia with a slight smirk.

Malfoy was about to say something nasty, but caught the sight of Pucey's and Warringron's wands. He shut himself rather quickly.

She stopped a passing guard, but didn't dare mention platform nine and three-quarters.

"Good, good" Moody started to mutter.

The guard had never heard of Hogwarts and when Cassiopeia couldn't even tell him what it was , she started to get annoyed, as though she was being stupid on purpose. Getting desperate, Cassiopeia asked for the train that left at eleven o'clock, but the guard said there wasn't one.

In the end the guard strode away, muttering about time wasters. Cassiopeia was now trying hard not to panic. According to the large clock over the arrivals board, she had ten minutes left to get on the train to Hogwarts and she had no idea how to do it; she was stranded in the middle of a station with a trunk she could hardly lift, a pocket full of wizard money, and a large owl.

"Hagrid…" Professor McGonagall sighed.

Hagrid must have forgotten to tell her something you had to do, like tapping the third brick on the left to get into Diagon Alley. She wondered if she should get out her wand and start tapping the ticket inspector's stand between platforms nine and ten.

"NO!" everyone shouted.

"Keep calm,people! I didn't"..the girl rolled her eyes. Honestly, it was years ago.

At that moment a group of people passed just behind her and she caught a few words of what they were saying.

"— packed with Muggles, of course —"

"Thanks Merlin!"..murmured Hooch.

Cassiopeia swung round. The speaker was a plump woman who was talking to four boys, all with flaming red hair.

" And...ENTER WEASLEYS...!"..shouted George.

"The read heads to the rescue"...continued his twin.

Each of them was pushing a trunk like Cassiopeia's in front of her — and they had an owl .

Heart hammering, Cassi pushed her cart after them. They stopped and so did she, just near enough to hear what they were saying.

"Eavesdropping, are we?"..Bill said grinning. 

"Now, what's the platform number?" said the boys' mother.

" I wanted to make sure Ginny remembered"..Molly said before anyone could ask.

Her daughter just rolled her eyes.

"Nine and three-quarters!" piped a small girl, also red-headed, who was holding her hand, "Mom, can't I go…"

"Not a word.." Ginny said to her brothers, glaring.

"You're not old enough, Ginny, now be quiet. All right, Percy, you go first."

What looked like the oldest boy marched toward platforms nine and ten.

Cassiopeia watched, careful not to blink in case she missed it — but just as the boy reached the dividing barrier between the two platforms, a large crowd of tourists came swarming in front of him and by the time the last backpack had cleared away, the boy had vanished.

"Fred, you next," the plump woman said.

"I'm not Fred, I'm George," said the boy. "Honestly, woman, you call yourself our mother? Can't you tell I'm George?"

"I hate that joke"..Molly said a little annoyed.

" I absolutely love it! Great prank, boys"!..Sirius complimented the twins.

Remus rolled his eyes. Sometimes he felt like he had two children. Cassiopeia and Sirius. And the first one was much more matured.

"Sorry, George, dear."

"Only joking, I am Fred," said the boy, and off he went. His twin called after him to hurry up, and he must have done so, because a second later, he had gone — but how had he done it? Now the third brother was walking briskly toward the barrier he was almost there — and then, quite suddenly, he wasn't anywhere.

"Well, thats because..." started to explain Hermione

"Mione, it is my six year...I think I know by now"..Cassi interrupted her and safe everyone from an hour of lecture.

"Oh, sorry"..blushed the girl.

There was nothing else for it.

"Excuse me," Cassiopeia said to the plump woman.

"Hello, dear," she said. "First time at Hogwarts? Ron's new, too."

She pointed at the last and youngest of her sons. He was tall, thin, and gangling, with freckles, big hands and feet, and a long nose.

"Great description here, Cassi old girl!"..George was pissing himself 

"Very accurate, very accurate indeed"..Fred couldn't hold it 

Hermione snickered.

"Yes," said Cassiopeia. "The thing is — the thing is, I don't know how to —"

"How to get onto the platform?" she said kindly, and Cassi nodded.

"Not to worry," she said. "All you have to do is walk straight at the barrier between platforms nine and ten. Don't stop and don't be scared you'll crash into it, that's very important. Best do it at a bit of a run if you're nervous. Go on, go now before Ron."

"Er — okay," said Cassiopeia.

"You probably thought it was crazy"..Charlie smiled at her. He could understand why his siblings and parents cared for her so much. Cassiopeia was sweet, sometimes very shy, but in the same time she was strong and brave. The girl has so much love in her.

" I kind of did"..she answered.

"Don't worry, dear"..cooed Molly.

She pushed her trolley around and stared at the barrier. It looked very solid.

"It is." Ron shuddered.

He remembered their second year. 

Ohhhh...Merlin..

"Casi. Cass..."Ron hissed.

When he got her attention Ron started to whisper fast in her ear. 

" I just thought..everything we did..every rule we broke..." he didn't need to finish, Cassiopeia understood. The teachers couldn't take points from them. But nothing could stop Molly, Remus and Sirius from grounding them, lecturing them or worse...having some sort of break down.

She started to walk toward it. People jostled her on their way to platforms nine and ten. Cassiopeia walked more quickly. She was going to smash right into that barrier and then she'd be in trouble — leaning forward on her cart, she broke into a heavy run — the barrier was coming nearer and nearer — she wouldn't be able to stop — the cart was out of control — she was a foot away — she closed her eyes ready for the crash — It didn't come… she kept on running… she opened her eyes. A scarlet steam engine was waiting next to a platform packed with people. A sign overhead said Hogwarts' Express, eleven o'clock . Cassiopeia looked behind her and saw a wrought-iron archway where the barrier had been, with the words Platform Nine and Three-Quarters on it, She had done it.

Smoke from the engine drifted over the heads of the chattering crowd, while cats of every color wound here and there between their legs. Owls hooted to one another in a disgruntled sort of way over the babble and the scraping of heavy trunks.

The first few carriages were already packed with students, some hanging out of the window to talk to their families, some fighting over seats. Cassiopeia pushed her cart off down the platform in search of an empty seat. She passed a round-faced boy who was saying, "Gran, I've lost my toad again."

Neville blushed.

"Three guess is who"..said Parkinson in her nasty voice.

"Say one word and I will transfigure you into your spirit animal"..Cassiopeia's voice was cold.

Tracey Davis laughed hard. "What animal is it "?

" Why, a pig of course"..the girl-who lived answered. 

No-one said a word. The grin Cassiopeia had on her face...it was a Black family one, mad and dangerous.

Not even Rufus wanted to deal with it.

"Better leave this family alone"..he whispered to Madam Bones.

"Oh, Neville," she heard the old woman sigh.

A boy with dreadlocks was surrounded by a small crowd.

"Give us a look, Lee, go on."

The boy lifted the lid of a box in his arms, and the people around him shrieked and yelled as something inside poked out a long, hairy leg.

Ron shuddered.

Cassi pressed on through the crowd until she found an empty compartment near the end of the train. She put Hedwig inside first and then started to shove and heave her trunk toward the train door. She tried to lift it up the steps but could hardly raise one end and twice she dropped it painfully on her foot.

"Its because you were so scrawny." teased her Fred.

"Want a hand?" It was one of the red-haired twins she'd followed through the barrier.

"Oh my! George or Fred helping someone, the world has come the end" Ginny faked the greatest shock

"Yes, please," Cassiopeia panted.

"Oy, Fred! C'mere and help!"

With the twins' help, Cassi's trunk was at last tucked away in a corner of the compartment.

"Oh, my boys,my sweet boys, I am so proud"..Molly was muttering.

Ron snorted. "Sweet my arse" he coughed so his mother couldn't hear.

"Thanks," said Cassiopeia, pushing her sweaty hair out of her eyes.

"What's that?" said one of the twins suddenly, pointing at Cassiopeia's lightning scar.

"Ah, sorry about that"..to his credit Fred did look embarrassed 

Cassiopeia waved her hand.

"Blimey," said the other twin. "Are you —?"

"She is," said the first twin. "Aren't you?" he added to Cassiopeia.

"What?" said Cass.

"Cassiopeia Potter." chorused the twins.

"Oh, her," said Cassi.

The Great Hall burst into laughter.

"Cassiopeia, (chuckle) really, I mean REALLY?" Neville asked, laughing hysterically.

His godsister just pouted. 

"I mean, yes, I am."

"Thats better, I suppose"...chuckled a seven year lion.

The two boys gawked at her, and Cassiopeia felt herself turning red. Then, to her relief, a voice came floating in through the train's open door.

"Fred? George? Are you there?"

"Coming, Mom."

With a last look at Cassiopeia, the twins hopped off the train.

Cassi sat down next to the window where, half hidden, she could watch the red-haired family on the platform and hear what they were saying.

"Good! Pay attention to your surroundings! CONSTANT VIGILANCE!!" Moody was so loud that a few people jumped.

Their mother had just taken out her handkerchief.

"Ron, you've got something on your nose."

"I told you so!"..announced Hermione sternly.

The youngest boy tried to jerk out of the way, but she grabbed him and began rubbing the end of his nose.

"Mom geroff" He wriggled free.

"Aaah, has ickle Ronnie got somefink on his nosie?" said one of the twins. George she thought.

"Blimey, Cassi..you have just met them. How could you tell them apart..?" Ginny couldn't believe it.

"She wouldn't say" pouted Fred

Cassiopeia smiled mysteriously. "A girl has her own secrets" was all she said.

"Shut up," said Ron.

"Where's Percy?" said their mother.

"He's coming now."

The oldest boy came striding into sight. He had already changed into his billowing black Hogwarts robes, and Cassiopeia noticed a red and gold badge on his chest with the letter P on it.

"P for prat." Gred and Forge muttered.

Percy went red. He was so embarrassed. he couldn't look at his family. Not after he betrayed them..

"Can't stay long, Mother," he said. "I'm up front, the prefects have got two compartments to themselves —"

"I really was full of myself"..he thought.

"Oh, are you a prefect, Percy?" said one of the twins,Fred, with an air of great surprise. "You should have said something, we had no idea."

"Hang on, I think I remember him saying something about it," said the other twin, George "Once —"

"Or twice —"

"A minute —"

"All summer —" =

Sirius was jumping like a little kid.  "Good one, good one!" 

Remus closed his eyes and rubbed his temples.

"Oh, shut up," said Percy the Prefect.

The twins stared at Cassiopeia.. "Percy the Prefect? Can we borrow that one?"

"How come Percy gets new robes, anyway?" said George.

"Because he's a prefect," said their mother fondly. "All right, dear, well, have a good term — send me an owl when you get there."

She kissed Percy on the cheek and he left. Then she turned to the twins.

"Now, you two — this year, you behave yourselves. If I get one more owl telling me you've — you've blown up a toilet or —"

"Don't give them any ideas, Molly"..muttered all the Professors.

Sirius grinned.

"You know, it was the same with your father and I. Your grandmother, Dorea was warning us not to do something..and a week latter she would recive an owl telling her, that we did just that".

Cassiopeia beamed at him. She loved hearing about her family.

"Blown up a toilet? We've never blown up a toilet."

"Great idea though, thanks, Mom."

People were chuckling again.

"Point proven"..sing sang Sirius Black.

"It's not funny. And look after Ron."

"Don't worry, ickle Ronniekins is safe with us."

"Suuure." Cassiopeia and Ron said with sarcasm.

"Shut up," said Ron again. He was almost as tall as the twins already and his nose was still pink where his mother had rubbed it.

"Hey, Mom, guess what? Guess who we just met on the train?"

Cassi leaned back quickly so they couldn't see her looking.

"Good thinking, good instincts " Moody was heard.

"You know that black-haired girl who was near us in the station? Know who she is?"

"Who?"

"Cassiopeia Potter!"

Cass heard the little girl's voice.

"Oh..nooooo" Ginny groaned and tried to hide her red face.

"Oh, Mom, can I go on the train and see her, Mom, oh please…"

Ginny was trying to hide herself under the table now.

"You've already seen her, Ginny, and the poor girl isn't something you goggle at in a zoo. Is she really, Fred? How do you know?"

"Asked her. Saw her scar. It's really there — like lightning."

"Poor dear no wonder she was alone, I wondered. She was ever so polite when she asked how to get onto the platform."

"Never mind that, do you think she remembers what You-Know-Who looks like?"

"WEASLEY"..shouted McGonagall.

Their mother suddenly became very stern.

"I forbid you to ask her, Fred. No, don't you dare. As though she needs reminding of that on her first day at school."

"Thank you, Molly"..said Remus sincerely.

Molly Weasley smiled at him. 

"All right, keep your hair on."

"You have got some guts, telling this to mom"..Bill said to his brother.

A whistle sounded.

"Hurry up!" their mother said, and the three boys clambered onto the train. They leaned out of the window for her to kiss them good-bye, and their younger sister began to cry.

"Don't, Ginny, we'll send you loads of owls."

"We'll send you a Hogwarts' toilet seat."

The Great Hall burst into laughter again.

"Hey, I have never received one!..Ginny pointed. 

"Gin-Gin, it went to someone who needed it more"..they said together.

"George!"

"Only joking, Mom."

The train began to move. Cassi saw the boys' mother waving and their sister, half laughing, half crying, running to keep up with the train until it gathered too much speed, then she fell back and waved.

"Awww." Lions teased.

Ginny glared at them.

Cassiopeia watched the girl and her mother disappear as the train rounded the corner. Houses flashed past the window. Cassi felt a great leap of excitement. She didn't know what she was going to — but it had to be better than what she was leaving behind.

Snape closed his eyes.His heart heavy, he too knew the feeling. 

The door of the compartment slid open and the youngest redheaded boy came in.

"Anyone sitting there?" he asked, pointing at the seat opposite Cassiopeia. "Everywhere else is full."

"I'm sure it was" Zabini whispered to Adrian.

Ron blushed. "Well, i didn't look too hard to be honest. But I am not sorry"..he grinned.

"I am glad you didn't. It was one of the best things that ever happened to me"..Cassiopeia said smiling at her best friend.

Their friendship was a gift to her.

They may have not realised it all those years ago, but the bond their formed was stronger than any blood. It was a chosen family. The one, Ron and Cassiopeia formed with each other and latter with Mione and Neville, and Luna..

Cassiopeia shook her head and the boy sat down. He glanced at Cassi and then looked quickly out of the window, pretending he hadn't looked.

"Must you notice everything, mate"..Ron muttered.

Cassiopeia saw he still had a black mark on his nose.

"Hey, Ron."

The twins were back.

"It is always better when we are present"..they grinned proudly.

The golden trio snorted.

"Listen, we're going down the middle of the train — Lee Jordan's got a giant tarantula down there."

"Right," mumbled Ron.

"Cassiopeia," said Fred, "did we introduce ourselves? Fred and George Weasley.

And this is Ron, our brother. See you later, then."

"Bye," said Cassiopeia and Ron. The twins slid the compartment door shut behind them.

"Are you really Cassiopeia Potter?" Ron blurted out.

Cassi nodded.

"Oh — well, I thought it might be one of Fred and George's jokes," said Ron.

"And have you really got — you know…"

He pointed at Cassi's forehead.

Hermione smacked Ron.

"Sorry,I am sorry" Ron shouted.

Cassiopeia pulled back her bangs to show the lightning scar. Ron stared.

"So that's where You-Know-Who —?"

"Yes," said Cassiopeia, "but I can't remember it."

"Nothing?" said Ron eagerly.

"Ronald Weasley..I did forbid to ask! You didn't listen to me at all"..his mother said sharply 

"Well, to be fair, Missis Weasley you were talking with Fred and George, so technically Ron didn't disobey you"..Cass was fast to safe Ron from Molly's lecture.

"Well — I remember a lot of green light, but nothing else."

"You shouldn't remember that damn light, already too much!"..Professor McGonagall said sadly.

"Wow," said Ron. He sat and stared at Cassiopeia for a few moments, then, as though he had suddenly realized what he was doing, he looked quickly out of the window again.

"Are all your family wizards?" asked Cassiopeia, who found Ron just as interesting as Ron found her.

Ron looked at Cassiopeia in shock. "Really?"

"Of course, mate! You were the first PLEASANT wizard of my age. I honestly didn't understand what you could find interesting about me. I lived in the muggle world after all"

Ron was red, but very pleased.

"Er — Yes, I think so," said Ron. "I think Mom's got a second cousin who's an accountant, but we never talk about him."

"He doesn't want to. It is makes me sad, but I understand that he might feel out of place with us"..Molly commented.

"So you must know loads of magic already."

"Not likely, no." whispered  Hermione.

" I did fairly well on our exams, I will have you know" Ron responded.

The Weasleys were clearly one of those old wizarding families the pale boy in Diagon Alley had talked about.

"What? Of course not. I did't mean those bloodtriters!" Malfoy shouted.

The Weasley, Cassi, Hermione and The Order were ready to explode.

"That was uncalled for, Mister Malfoy. Thirty points from Slytherin. I will not tolerate your disrespected for the rest of the school any longer!"..McGonagall shouted, fury in her eyes.

"My father.."the ferret started

"One, you father is very deep in Azkaban and can't do anything. Two, even if he wasn't Lucius Malfoy has no power here in Hogwarts or in the snake house even. Three,The Weasley family are very old and noble. Clearly older than the Malfoy's. And don't even let me start on how your dear ancestors stole their wealth." Adrian told it all in a calm, cold and dangerous voice. His eyes on the Malfoy Heir, so hard and full of hate.

Snape was pale. Oh, he knew that he, as a Professor and their Head of the house right now was useless. He was a Slytherin himself. Severus knew perfectly well how the house works. Draco was in for it. He just hopped his godson did't lie about anything else..The house will not tolerate it, many of his snakes respected the girl to Severus's dislike. Snape knew many of them wanted to know her better, that many of them saw her as their only hope. It made him sick but there was nothing he could do. So he bullied her. Those books..well, they could take away a lot from him. So far even if snakes didn't agree with many things their Head did..so far he was respected, his word had a weight..well, not for long it seems.

"I heard you went to live with Muggles," said Ron. "What are they like?"

"Horrible

 

well, not all of them.

Dumbledore smiled to himself. He was so glad, that his terrible mistake did not leave her bitter, did not leave her with hate to all the muggle word.

Albus remembered all too well another child. A boy who's hate for his father, mugggles and even the wizards brought nothing but deaths.

So similar and yet Cassiopeia Pootter and Tom Riddle couldst be more different. Miss Lovegood was right - one coin, but completely different faces, different choice.

My aunt and uncle and cousin are, though. Wish I'd had three wizard brothers."

"You do now!"..Ron's voice was warm.

"And a sister too!"..announced Ginny, smiling.

"I know, I do. I couldn't be more grateful.."..Cassiopeia was smiling too. The Weasley..truly were her blessing.

"Five," said Ron. For some reason, he was looking gloomy.

The Weasleys frowned.

Ron started to turn red. He couldn't believe he was so stupid. Fortunately Cassi made him see sense. 

"I'm the sixth in our family to go to Hogwarts.

You could say I've got a lot to live up to. Bill and Charlie have already left — Bill was head boy and Charlie was captain of Quidditch.

Now Percy's a prefect. Fred and George mess around a lot, but they still get really good marks and everyone thinks they're really funny. Everyone expects me to do as well as the others, but if I do, it's no big deal, because they did it first.

"Oh, no, no. My little Ronni." his mother started to sob 

"Ron..you are your own person, you don't need to be like anybody else. We love you for you."..Bill said felling hurt for his brother.

Charlie, Fred and George were feeling so guilty. They never knew. Their little brother felt like he was in their shadows and their never even saw it. Some good brothers they were..

"Hey, Its fine! I am fine. I don't feel like that. Really, I was eleven back then".Ron was trying to reassure his family.

Cassiopeia decided to add something too.."Well, of course you don't. Do I need to remind you..the stone, the troll, Norbert..the chess. And that was only your first year. By the end of those five books..I am afraid the rest of your family are gonna be in YOUR shadows"

Ron's ears were flashing red, he was pleased of course, but now he understood why Cassi didn't like the attention.

Her statement was welcomed with more questions. But Cassiopeia waved her hand. "Read and you will find out",

Students  groaned, but knew the Golden trio won't say a thing. They were good with secrets.

You never get anything new, either, with five brothers. I've got Bill's old robes, Charlie's old wand, and Percy's old rat."

Molly and Arthur felt embarrassed. They couldn't afford more..and their children suffered for it. 

Malfoy looked pleased, he had a nasty smiled on his face. It vanished soon enough, though. Lily Moon was glaring with a warning in her eyes.

"Say one word and regret it!"..hissed Adrian.

Ron reached inside his jacket and pulled out a fat gray rat, which was asleep.

Ron was disgusted with his past self.. "That little shit.."

Sirius Black and Remus Lupin were glaring. Some students thought they hard Professor Lupin's growl.

"His name's Scabbers and he's useless, he hardly ever wakes up.

"Wish we had killed him right then and there." Ron muttered under his breath.

Percy got an owl from my dad for being made a prefect, but they couldn't aff — I mean, I got Scabbers instead."

Ron's ears went pink.

He seemed to think he'd said too much, because he went back to staring out of the window.

Cassiopeia didn't think there was anything wrong with not being able to afford an owl. After all, she'd never had any money in her life until a month ago

"I wasn't happy about it back then, but I am now. It was hard, but I am glad to have this experience." the girl said calmly.

"Forgive me for putting my nose where it does not belong..but why?"..asked Blaise Zabini. He needed to know, it was much more than simply curiosity.

"I don't mind you asking, Zabini"..Cassiopeia responded lightly. She looked at Zabini and told " It taught me a lesson, my life I mean. A difficult one yes, but a lesson no matter what. It thought me to never look down at other people, my own experience has shown me that life can be hard and unfair, that many people were struggling to live, they had to work tirelessly to just survive. That thought me to respect those who did it, those who never give up, who did their best. I understood that money was not everything in this life. My cousin and his gang they had everything, you know, everything they ever wanted. And yet, they don't have a future, I felt pity for them, very deeply in my heart I felt pity. Because they could never have a real friendship, a real love. No-one respected them, people were looking at them with disgust and in the hour of need, they would stand alone. And there and then I realized that, wearing those awful old trash and without any money I was freer and happier than them.

By the end of her speech every single person (not the toad), were looking at her in awe.

Missis Weasley was so proud, she had a tears in her eyes. Her husband was smiling.

Sirius and Remus were ready to explode. Merlin, but she did make her parents proud. She was so young, but so wise, dispute everything.

Zabini was left without words. His friends too. Lily Moon has something akin hope in her eyes.

And Adrian..well, Adrian was lost in his own little world. He was so collect and calm usually, but now, oh..he wanted to do something foolish, like run over to the Gryffindor's table and hug her so tight and maybe smell her hear or touch it...oh, ok, stop. He wanted to give her a hug. Yes, that was at least appropriate.

Albus broke the silence, "Well, I believe we should continue"..he said, eyes watering.

, and she told Ron so, all about having to wear Dudley's old clothes and never getting proper birthday presents. This seemed to cheer Ron up.

"Ehh, It really didn't, you know. I mean I was sad about it..just i thought.."

"Ron, I know. You don't have to explain yourself to me. I know you."

He smiled, glad, that they didn't need words. They understood each other even in silence.

"I was glad, he thought..that you won't look down at me. That I could be your friend without all the golds and big name.."

"… and until Hagrid told me, I didn't know anything about being a witch or about my parents or Voldemort —"

Ron gasped.

"What?" said Cassiopeia .

 

"You said You-Know-Who's name!" said Ron, sounding both shocked and impressed. "I'd have thought you, of all people —"

"I'm not trying to be brave or anything, saying the name," said Cassiopeia, "I just never knew you shouldn't. See what I mean? I've got loads to learn… I bet," she added, voicing for the first time something that had been worrying her a lot lately, "I bet I'm the worst in the class."

"That couldn't be farer from the truth"..announced Professor Flitwick.

"I agree, as a matter of fact, you are one of the best students we have"..McGonagall said proudly. 

"You won't be. There's loads of people who come from Muggle families and they learn quick enough."

"Take your friend Granger, for example"..it came from Cassius Warrington.

Hermione blushed, but couldn't hide her surprise. "...pureblood...snake..?..complimenting me..?"

"While they had been talking, the train had carried them out of London. Now they were speeding past fields full of cows and sheep. They were quiet for a time, watching the fields and lanes flick past.

Around half past twelve there was a great clattering outside in the corridor and a smiling, dimpled woman slid back their door and said, "Anything off the cart, dears? ,

Cassiopeia who hadn't had any breakfast,

"You didn't have any breakfast?" Molly asked angrily 

"um..well.."was Cassi's response.

leapt to her feet, but Ron's ears went pink again and he muttered that he'd brought sandwiches. Cassi went out into the corridor.

She had never had any money for candy with the Dursleys, and now that she had pockets rattling with gold and silver she was ready to buy as many Mars Bars as she could carry but the woman didn't have Mars Bars. What she did have were Bettie Bott's Every Flavour Beans, Drooble's Best Blowing Gum, Chocolate Frogs. Pumpkin Pasties, Cauldron Cakes, Licorice Wands, and a number of other strange things Cassiopeia had never seen in her life. Not wanting to miss anything, she got some of everything and paid the woman eleven silver Sickles and seven bronze Knuts.

 

Ron stared as Cassiopeia brought it all back in to the compartment and tipped it onto an empty seat.

"Hungry, are you?"

"Starving," said Cassi, taking a large bite out of a pumpkin pasty.

"Those are so good." Sirius said dreamily.

Ron had taken out a lumpy package and unwrapped it. There were four sandwiches inside. He pulled one of them apart and said, "She always forgets I don't like corned beef…"

"Swap you for one of these," said Cassiopeia, holding up a pasty. "Go on —"

"You don't want this, it's all dry," said Ron. "She hasn't got much time," he added quickly, "you know, with five of us."

"Go on, have a pasty," said Cass, who had never had anything to share before or, indeed, anyone to share it with.

Minerva pursed her lips tightly. She will have some words with the muggles.

It was a nice feeling, sitting there with Ron, eating their way through all her pasties, cakes, and candies (the sandwiches lay forgotten).

"What are these?" Cassiopeia asked Ron, holding up a pack of Chocolate Frogs.

"They're not really frogs, are they?" She was starting to feel that nothing would surprise her.

"I know the feeling" Collin retorted.

"No," said Ron. "But see what the card is. I'm missing Agrippa."

"I have got three of them, will give you one"..Remus said, amused

"No surprise here..with the amount of chocolate you are eating"..muttered Sirius

"What?"

"Oh, of course, you wouldn't know — Chocolate Frogs have cards, inside them, you know, to collect — famous witches and wizards. I've got about five hundred, but I haven't got Agrippa or Ptolemy."

Cassiopeia unwrapped her Chocolate Frog and picked up the card. It showed a man's face. He wore half-moon glasses, had a long, crooked nose, and flowing silver hair, beard, and mustache. Underneath the picture was the name Albus Dumbledore.

Dumbledore chuckled. "That was a good description of myself"

"So this is Dumbledore!" said Cassiopeia. 

"Don't tell me you'd never heard of Dumbledore!" said Ron. "Can I have a frog? I might get Agrippa — thanks —"

Cassiopeia turned over her card and read:

ALBUS DUMBLEDORE

CURRENTLY HEADMASTER OF HOGWARTS

Considered by many the greatest wizard of modern times, Dumbledore is particularly famous for his defeat of the dark wizard Grindelwald in 1945, for the discovery of the twelve uses of dragon's blood, and his work on alchemy with his partner, Nicolas Flamel. Professor Dumbledore enjoys chamber music and tenpin bowling

"It was right there," Cassiopeia moaned.

"All that time and it was right there, so many hours in that damn library"..Ron muttered 

Cassiopeia turned the card back over and saw, to her astonishment, that Dumbledore's face had disappeared.

"why were you surprised?" questioned a pureblood.

"He's gone!"

"Well, you can't expect him to hang around all day," said Ron.

"He'll be back. No, I've got Morgana again and I've got about six of her… do you want it? You can start collecting."

Ron's eyes strayed to the pile of Chocolate Frogs waiting to be unwrapped. "Help yourself," said Cassi. "But in, you know, the Muggle world, people just stay put in photos."

"Really…weird" muttered the pureblood Gryffindor 

"Do they? What, they don't move at all?" Ron sounded amazed. "Weird!"

Cassiopeia stared as Dumbledore sidled back into the picture on her card and gave her a small smile. Ron was more interested in eating the frogs than looking at the Famous Witches and Wizards cards, but Cassiopeia couldn't keep her eyes off them. Soon she had not only Dumbledore and Morgana, but Hengist of Woodcroft, Alberic Grunnion, Circe, Paracelsus, and Merlin. She finally tore her eyes away from the Druidess Cliodna, who was scratching her nose, to open a bag of Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans.

Students started to chuckle.

"You want to be careful with those," Ron warned her. "When they say every flavor, they mean every flavor — you know, you get all the ordinary ones like chocolate and peppermint and marmalade, but then you can get spinach and liver and tripe. George reckons he had a booger-flavoured one once."

"It was disgusting"..groaned George

Ron picked up a green bean, looked at it carefully, and bit into a corner.

"Bleaaargh — see? Sprouts."

They had a good time eating the Every Flavour Beans. Cassi got toast, coconut, baked bean, strawberry, curry, grass, coffee, sardine, and was even brave enough to nibble the end off a funny gray one Ron wouldn't touch, which turned out to be pepper.

The countryside now flying past the window was becoming wilder. The neat fields had gone. Now there were woods, twisting rivers, and dark green hills.

There was a knock on the door of their compartment and the round-faced boy

"Neville!" shouted Gryffindors 

Cassiopeia  had passed on platform nine and three-quarters came in. He looked tearful.

"Sorry," he said, "but have you seen a toad at all?"

Neville was a bit pink.."That bloody toad..never in one place"..he was muttering.

Cassiopeia and Ron snorted. No matter what their friend said, he still cared for his toad.

When they shook their heads, he wailed, "I've lost him! He keeps getting away from me!"

"He'll turn up," said Cassi.

"Yes," said the boy miserably. "Well, if you see him…"

He left.

"Don't know why he's so bothered," said Ron. "If I'd brought a toad I'd lose it as quick as I could. Mind you, I brought Scabbers, so I can't talk."

Ron was looking murderous. "Bloody good for nothing traitor.." 

The rat was still snoozing on Ron's lap.

"He might have died and you wouldn't know the difference," said Ron in disgust.

"Pity he didn't"..Luna said coldly. 

Many people looked at her surprised. That was very unlike her.

"I tried to turn him yellow yesterday to make him more interesting, but the spell didn't work. I'll show you, look…"

George and Fred started to laugh. Their mother looked sternly at them.

He rummaged around in his trunk and pulled out a very battered-looking wand. It was chipped in places and something white was glinting at the end.

"Unicorn hair's nearly poking out. Anyway —"

He had just raised his wand when the compartment door slid open again. The toadless boy was back, but this time he had a girl with him. She was already wearing her new Hogwarts robes.

"Well..who was it?"..George teased.

"Oh, I don't know, brother mine..it might have been our little bookworm.." Fred carried on.

"Has anyone seen a toad? Neville's lost one," she said. She had a bossy sort of voice, lots of bushy brown hair, and rather large front teeth.

"Hey..!" exclaimed Hermione.

Ron looked smugly at her.."Well, shouldn't have laughed at my description.."

"We've already told him we haven't seen it," said Ron, but the girl wasn't listening, she was looking at the wand in his hand.

"Oh, are you doing magic? Let's see it, then."

She sat down. Ron looked taken aback.

"Er — all right."

He cleared his throat.

"Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow, Turn this stupid, fat rat yellow."

Everyone burst out laughing.

He waved his wand, but nothing happened.

"Sorry about that, Ron"..muttered the twins, trying not to laugh.

Scabbers stayed gray and fast asleep.

"Like always..good for nothing..."..muttered Remus.

Percy was feeling angry again. There was nothing wrong with his rat!

"Are you sure that's a real spell?" said the girl. "Well, it's not very good, is it?

Hermione hid her face in her hands."Well...maybe I was a bit annoying"

Ron gave her a look of disbelief.

I've tried a few simple spells just for practice and it's all worked for me. Nobody in my family's magic at all, it was ever such a surprise when I got my letter, but I was ever so pleased, of course, I mean, it's the very best school of witchcraft there is, I've heard — I've learned all our course books by heart,

"Bloody hell! Even Remus and Lily didn't do that.."..Sirius announced.

Remus silenced him with one look, before Molly could start lecturing him for such language.

 

of course, I just hope it will be enough — I'm Hermione Granger, by the way, who are you?"

She said all this very fast.

"Merlin..did you even breath"..asked her Terry.

"I was just so exited"..Hermione murmured 

Cassiopeia looked at Ron, and was relieved to see by his stunned face that he hadn't learned all the course books by heart either.

While she did read a lot of her books, memorised many things even..she was worried, well because it didn't even cross her mind to learn the material by heart. Was it necessary?

The Staff looked amused.

"Miss Black-Potter, I can assure you that it was not a requirement and you do fairly well without it. said Professor Sprout, hiding her chuckles.

"Why aren't you with us,again?"..asked Anthony Goldstein, from the raven table.

"I'm Ron Weasley," Ron muttered.

"Cassiopeia Potter," said Cassi.

"Are you really?" said Hermione.

"I know all about you, of course — I got a few extra books, for background reading, and you're in Modern Magical History and The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts and Great Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century."

"Background reading, background?" said Charlie weakly.

"Am I?" said Cassi, feeling dazed.

"I am soo sorry, Cassi..I didn't mean to.."

But her friend just waved her hand. "Mione, it is in the past. You just tried to make friends, I get it."

"Goodness, didn't you know, I'd have found out everything I could if it was me," said Hermione. "Do either of you know what house you'll be in? I've been asking around, and I hope I'm in Gryffindor, it sounds by far the best;

"Of course it is!" said a first year Gyffindor.

I hear Dumbledore himself was in it, but I suppose Ravenclaw wouldn't be too bad… Anyway, we'd better go and look for Neville's toad. You two had better change, you know, I expect we'll be there soon."

"Yes, mother"..both Ron and Cassiopeia said amused. 

And she left, taking the toadless boy with her.

"Whatever house I'm in, I hope she's not in it," said Ron.

Ron had backed away pretty fast.

"I am sorry, really!"

Hermione frowned, but then just waved it. "It's fine, I understand..my behaviour was..well, a bit bossy."

Many of her Housemates snorted.."Was...? A bit..? Yeah...right"

He threw his wand back into his trunk. "Stupid spell — George gave it to me, bet he knew it was a dud."

"What house are your brothers in?" asked Cassiopeia.

"Gryffindor," said Ron. Gloom seemed to be settling on him again. "Mom and Dad were in it, too. I don't know what they'll say if I'm not.

"Nothing, Ron, nothing. We would have loved you all the same."..Molly announced.

I don't suppose Ravenclaw would be too bad, but imagine if they put me in Slytherin."

"Hey!!!" Many of the snakes exploded.

"Not all of us are bloodthirsty psychos, you know"..said Tracey, feeling hurt.

"I know that now. I am sorry. I was just a kid and I was worried. I see thing differently now." Ron answered her, in such a mature way, that his entire family looked shoked.

"Really, since when?"..asked Dean,

"Well, Cassi helped me to see a reason,she did smack me of course, yeah... But the third year..ohhh, if it didn't opened my eyes.." 

Tracey looked pleased. 

"That's the house Vol-, I mean, You-Know-Who was in?"

"Yeah," said Ron. He flopped back into his seat, looking depressed.

"You know, I think the ends of Scabbers' whiskers are a bit lighter," said Cassi, trying to take Ron's mind off houses.

Thanks for trying, mate"

"Anytime, Ron, anytime"

"So what do your oldest brothers do now that they've left, anyway?"

Cassi was wondering what a wizard did once he'd finished school.

"Many things..many things"..commented Amelia 

"Charlie's in Romania studying dragons, and Bill's in Africa doing something for Gringotts," said Ron.

"Did you hear about Gringotts? It's been all over the Daily Prophet, but I don't suppose you get that with the Muggles — someone tried to rob a high security vault."

Cass stared.

"Oh...no"..Remus knew all too well, she would try to find out..that was Sirius Black and James Potter in her.

"Really? What happened to them?"

"Nothing, that's why it's such big news. They haven't been caught.

The Golden trio looked grimly. 

My dad says it must've been a powerful Dark wizard to get round Gringotts,

"He wasn't wrong.." Hermione whispered.

but they don't think they took anything, that's what's odd. 'Course, everyone gets scared when something like this happens in case You-Know-Who's behind it."

Cassiopeia turned this news over in her mind. She was starting to get a prickle of fear every time You-Know-Who was mentioned. She supposed this was all part of entering the magical world, but it had been a lot more comfortable saying "Voldemort" without worrying.

"Exactly! Good girl! Don't fear the name"..Moody shouted.

"I think that is exactly what V..Voldemort wanted, to have us all in fear"..said Neville, surprising many. 

"Very well said, Mister Longbottom, and very true."..Albus responded.

"What's your Quidditch team?" Ron asked.

"Er — I don't know any." Cassi confessed.

Oliver looked horrified. 

"You still don't?"..he asked hurt.

"Of course I do. My old Capitan is playing professionally now." Cassi announced.

Wood was happy.

"What!" Ron looked dumbfounded. "Oh, you wait, it's the best game in the world —" And he was off, explaining all about the four balls and the positions of the seven players, describing famous games he'd been to with his brothers and the broomstick he'd like to get if he had the money. He was just taking Cassiopeia through the finer points of the game when the compartment door slid open yet again, but it wasn't Neville the toadless boy, or Hermione Granger this time.

Slytherins were looking suspicious. Malfoy did said he met Cassiopeia Potter there. Of corse in his story he tried to be polite and respectful, and offer her friendship, and help. Lets see...lets see.

Three boys entered, and Cassiopeia recognized the middle one at once: it was the pale boy from Madam Malkin's robe shop.

He was looking at Cassi with a lot more interest than he'd shown back in Diagon Alley.

"I bey he was" said a Justin sternly.

"Is it true?" he said. "They're saying all down the train that Cassiopeia Potter's in this compartment. So it's you, is it?"

"Yes," said Cassi. She was looking at the other boys. Both of them were thickset and looked extremely mean. Standing on either side of the pale boy, they looked like bodyguards.

"They are.."..confirmed Theo Nott.

"Oh, this is Crabbe and this is Goyle," said the pale boy carelessly, noticing where Cassi was looking. "And my name's Malfoy, Draco Malfoy."

Ron gave a slight cough, which might have been hiding a snigger. Draco Malfoy looked at him.

"Think my name's funny, do you? No need to ask who you are. My father told me all the Weasleys have red hair, freckles, and more children than they can afford."

"You can't you even think for yourself!...always your father"..Tonks said sharply 

"Why..you little brat.."started Sirius. He hated Lucius.

"Yes, your father said so, your father and bla bla. What good did it do? He is currently in his cell in Azkaban." Cassiopeia said angrily. And you know what, unless you change yourself soon  that' the feature you will have too. Your Lord wouldn't care, would he." She couldn't stop herself. Malfoy bullied her friends, he constantly insults Ron's parents, her parents, people she cared about..enough is enough.

Snape closed his eyes. Draco lied yet again. Potter didn't insult him, his family. She wasn't arrogant..he was the one who started it all. Severus was scared for his godson, there was too much of his father and too little of  his mother. He wasn't foolish, Slytherins won't allow him inside this. Draco fooled them, lied to them, he was arrogant and looked down at everyone. Draco Malfoy was everything he thought he saw in Cassiopeia Potter.

Severus looked at his house table and caught the look of Heir Pucey and Heir Warrington . They looked him in they eye, like they dared him to say a word in defence of Draco. He saw the faces of his house. Disgust. Disappointment. Anger. He may have been the Head of the house, but things worked differently. He was a teacher, he wasn't Heir Slytherin and in his(the Heir) absent it was the Court. They ruled. Draco was not in it, even if he believed he was THE leader. Severus was not in the Court. Strangely, the Dark Lord himself did not have the ring of the line he claimed as his. It was all unfortunate for Draco and soon will be for Severus himself.

Mister Weasley hurried with the book. The atmosphere was very tense.

He turned back to Cassiopeia. "You'll soon find out some wizarding families are much better than others, Potter. You don't want to go making friends with the wrong sort. I can help you there."

"Thanks, but no thanks"..muttered Seamus.

He held out his hand to shake Cassiopeia's, but Cassiopeia  didn't take it.

"Good" Andromeda said very audibly.

"I think I can tell who the wrong sort are for myself, thanks," she said coolly.

Draco Malfoy didn't go red, but a pink tinge appeared in his pale cheeks.

"I'd be careful if I were you, Potter," he said slowly. "Unless you're a bit politer you'll go the same way as your parents.

"You disgust me!" said a very irritated Astoria.

Zabini, Nott, Warrington and Pucey were glaring dangerously. 

"It seems like the little shit lied after all"..said Moon harshly.

"It seems the brat thought it was fine to fool us and start an unnecessary feud with Cassiopeia Potter. I don't like to be manipulated"..hissed Cassius. 

Pusey nodded his head. "We will deal wit it, as a Court"..he said in clear voice, it was loud enough to be heard. He wanted make sure Severus Snape knew it. 

They didn't know what was good for them, either. You hang around with riffraff like the Weasleys and that Hagrid, and it'll rub off on you."

If a look could kill..Malfoy would be dead right now.

Both Cassiopeia and Ron stood up.

"Say that again," Ron said, his face as red as his hair.

"Oh, you're going to fight us, are you?" Malfoy sneered.

"Unless you get out now," said Cassiopeia, more bravely than she felt, because Crabbe and Goyle were a lot bigger than her or Ron.

The both of them giggled stupidly. 

"But we don't feel like leaving, do we, boys? We've eaten all our food and you still seem to have some."

"By the Merlin and Salazar..how can you be so..so..I don't have words"..whispered Daphne, she was looking at him like it was dirt in front of her.

Goyle reached toward the Chocolate Frogs next to Ron — Ron leapt forward, but before he'd so much as touched Goyle, Goyle let out a horrible yell.

Scabbers the rat was hanging off his finger, sharp little teeth sunk deep into Goyle's knuckle

"The only good thing he has ever done.." Ron muttered.

Crabbe and Malfoy backed away as Goyle swung Scabbers round and round, howling, and when Scabbers finally flew off and hit the window, all three of them disappeared at once. Perhaps they thought there were more rats lurking among the sweets, or perhaps they'd heard footsteps, because a second later, Hermione Granger had come in.

"What has been going on?" she said, looking at the sweets all over the floor and Ron picking up Scabbers by his tail.

"I think he's been knocked out," Ron said to Cassiopeia. He looked closer at Scabbers. "No — I don't believe it — he's gone back to sleep."

And so he had.

"You've met Malfoy before?"

Cassiopeia explained about their meeting in Diagon Alley.

"I've heard of his family," said Ron darkly. "They were some of the first to come back to our side after You-Know-Who disappeared. Said they'd been bewitched. My dad doesn't believe it. He says Malfoy's father didn't need an excuse to go over to the Dark Side."

"Right, damn right.." announced Sirius Black.

"Lies! Lies, Lucius Malfoy was under Im.." began the toad.

"No, he bloody wasn't! Now be quiet foolish woman"..shouted Moody. 

Dolores was back to her place in a second.

He turned to Hermione. "Can we help you with something?"

"Well,aren't you polite"..said Hannah

"You'd better hurry up and put your robes on, I've just been up to the front to ask the conductor, and he says we're nearly there. You haven't been fighting, have you? You'll be in trouble before we even get there!"

"Scabbers has been fighting, not us," said Ron, scowling at her. "Would you mind leaving while we change?"

Everyone started to laugh.

"Oh..Ron..(chuckle)..you do realise Cassi is a girl, right?" asked Angelina.

"All right — I only came in here because people outside are behaving very childishly, racing up and down the corridors," said Hermione in a sniffy voice.

"I don't have a sniffy voice!" exclaimed said girl.

"Mmm...right"..Ron whispered.

"And you've got dirt on your nose, by the way, did you know?"

Everyone laugh harder.

Ron glared at her as she left. Cassiopeia peered out of the window. It was getting dark. She could see mountains and forests under a deep purple sky. The train did seem to be slowing down.

She went out to stay near the door, while Ron was changing. So after Ron would do the same for her.

Voice echoed through the train: "We will be reaching Hogwarts in five minutes' time. Please leave your luggage on the train, it will be taken to the school separately."

Cassiopeia's stomach lurched with nerves and Ron, she saw, looked pale under his freckles. They crammed their pockets with the last of the sweets and joined the crowd thronging the corridor.

The train slowed right down and finally stopped. People pushed their way toward the door and out on to a tiny, dark platform. Cassiopeia shivered in the cold night air. Then a lamp came bobbing over the heads of the students, and Cassi heard a familiar voice: "Firs' years! Firs' years over here! All right there, Cassi?"

"HAGRID!" several people shouted.

Hagrid's big hairy face beamed over the sea of heads.

"C'mon, follow me — any more firs' years? Mind yer step, now! Firs' years follow me!"

Slipping and stumbling, they followed Hagrid down what seemed to be a steep, narrow path. It was so dark on either side of them that Cassi thought there must be thick trees there. Nobody spoke much. Neville, the boy who kept losing his toad, sniffed once or twice.

"Yeh'll get yer firs' sight o' Hogwarts in a sec," Hagrid called over his shoulder, "jus' round this bend here."

There was a loud "Oooooh!"

The narrow path had opened suddenly onto the edge of a great black lake. Perched atop a high mountain on the other side, its windows sparkling in the starry sky, was a vast castle with many turrets and towers.

"No more'n four to a boat!" Hagrid called, pointing to a fleet of little boats sitting in the water by the shore. Cassiopeia and Ron were followed into their boat by Neville and Hermione.

"Everyone in?" shouted Hagrid, who had a boat to himself. "Right then — FORWARD!"

"That was so cool!" ..sighed a seven year Ravenclaw girl.

And the fleet of little boats moved off all at once, gliding across the lake, which was as smooth as glass. Everyone was silent, staring up at the great castle overhead. It towered over them as they sailed nearer and nearer to the cliff on which it stood.

"Heads down!" yelled Hagrid as the first boats reached the cliff; they all bent their heads and the little boats carried them through a curtain of ivy that hid a wide opening in the cliff face. They were carried along a dark tunnel, which seemed to be taking them right underneath the castle, until they reached a kind of underground harbor, where they clambered out onto rocks and pebbles.

"Oy, you there! Is this your toad?" said Hagrid, who was checking the boats as people climbed out of them.

"Trevor!" cried Neville blissfully, holding out his hands. Then they clambered up a passageway in the rock after Hagrid's lamp, coming out at last onto smooth, damp grass right in the shadow of the castle.

They walked up a flight of stone steps and crowded around the huge, oak front door.

"Everyone here? You there, still got yer toad?"

Neville groaned remembering it. That toad...

Hagrid raised a gigantic fist and knocked three times on the castle door.

"That was a nice chapter, minus those damn Dursley, of course"..said Roger Davies,

"Yeah, I am kind of surprised..are thought you started as a Golden Trio right at the beginning"..said Ernie.

His statement was supported by many nods.

The trio looked at each other and start to laugh hard..

"Well.." began Ron

"Not exactly..." continued Mione

"Nopeee..." finished Cassi.

Dumbledore got up from his seat. "What do you think, should we  take a little break?"

"Noooo, Profesor! Could we wait until the end of the next chapter, please"..Seamus shouted, way too exited.

Minerva looked suspicious. "And why so, Mister Finnigan?" 

"Emm...well, you see..here is the thing..it is very important to see Cassi's sorting..em, did I mentioned that it was important?"

McGonagall looked at him sternly.

"Oh, all right, all right, we have a bet here, at our table..you see, sometimes Cassiopeia can have a qualities of the other houses as well..like..and I made a bet, that the Hat was thinking about Hufflepuff and Dean here...

"That is enough, Mister Finnigan"..Minerva didn't look amused.

Sirius Black on the other hand looked interested.

Dumbledore was chuckling "Very well, very well. I bet 5 galleons Cassiopeia could have done well in all for houses"

Minerva MacGonagall's jaw dropped. 

However, it seems that everyone else found it hilarious, Students and teachers alike wanted to participate.

Snape sneered, as if..the Golden Potter could have gone anywhere else,,please. He was not stupid enough to voice it, however.

Draco was.

"Please, all for houses..she is a halfblood,,she could never.." he didn't finish. Adrian placed a silence charm on him.

"Mmm, I think I am going over to the lions. Will bet too"..Zabini sounded very happy. He loved bets, And off he went.

Cassius turned to Adrian.."You know, she does have many different qualities, now when I think about it..she can be very sneaky".

Adrian signed. "Cassius, I am not going to bet, I would rather wait and find out,,or if she could tell me..well"

His friend rolled his eyes. "Really, if he wanted Cassiopeia to tell him, trust him..Adrian have to get to know her. They guy couldn't even say two words to her".

After fifteen minutes it was decided to have one more chapter before the break.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 8.

 

Once it all faded, Tonks volunteered to read the next chapter. She levitated the books, cleared her throat  and started in her overexcited voice..

                     

                                                                                                                       "The Sorting Hat"

The door swung open at once. A tall, black-haired witch in emerald-green robes stood there. She had a very stern face and Cassiopeia's first thought was that this was not someone to cross.

"And yet you do it every time" Professor McGonagall said, rather mischevious.

"But..Professor, its not really my fault, is it? We had to save the school..besides there is nothing wrong with some mischief"..said her student with a sly grin.

"The firs' years, Professor McGonagall," said Hagrid.

"Thank you, Hagrid. I will take them from here."

She pulled the door wide. The entrance hall was so big you could have fit the whole of the Dursleys' house in it. The stone walls were lit with flaming torches like the ones at Gringotts, the ceiling was too high to make out, and a magnificent marble staircase facing them led to the upper floors.

"You are so good with description" murmured Hermione

They followed Professor McGonagall across the flagged stone floor. Cassiopeia could hear the drone of hundreds of voices from a doorway to the right — the rest of the school must already be here — but Professor McGonagall showed the first years into a small, empty chamber off the hall. They crowded in, standing rather closer together than they would usually have done, peering about nervously.

"Ickle firsties!" Fred sang

"Please..like you were better" reminded him Angelina

"Welcome to Hogwarts," said Professor McGonagall. "The start-of-term banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your houses. The Sorting is a very important ceremony because, while you are here, your house will be something like your family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your house, sleep in your house dormitory, and spend free time in your house common room."

"Definitely a family" Cassiopeia muttered. Well, her House was her family..considering her bloodline and they never let her down. Unless you count that episode in her first year,,but well, they did learn afterwards..

"The four houses are called Gryffindor,

 Cheers from Gryffindors

"The bravest and craziest of all"..George announced proudly 

"The house of best pranks"..agreed Fred

"You forget the House of parties and the loudest lot in the school"..muttered Terry 

Hufflepuff,

Hufflepuffs cheered and Professor Sprout clapped proudly 

"Not always fair lot"..Ron muttered, but load enough. 

Badgers understood his reference to the forth year. Many students cringed uncomfortably

Ravenclaw,

Ravenclaws cheered 

"Clever, but judgmental, don't really say a word to stop a bully in their own house"..Cassiopeia aded, glaring at Cho and her friends. 

Said girls tried to hide their faces, they were getting attention and not the good sort.

Normally soft and funny Professor Flitwick was looking sharply, his eyebrows raised. 

Luna smiled gratefully.

and Slytherin.

"The sly and cunning, but the most misjudge of all"..sing sang the Golden Trio

Many of the snakes looked surprised, but pleased.

Tracey send a brilliant smile to Ron, who went a bit pink.

Each house has its own noble history and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards. While you are at Hogwarts, your triumphs will earn your house points, while any rulebreaking will lose house points.

The trio looked at each other, oh yeah.."rule breaking" part felt familiar.

Remus caught they look. "Interesting..I hope it wasn't anything dangerous.."

At the end of the year, the house with the most points is awarded the house cup, a great honour. I hope each of you will be a credit to whichever house becomes yours.

"The Sorting Ceremony will take place in a few minutes in front of the rest of the school. I suggest you all smarten yourselves up as much as you can while you are waiting."

Her eyes lingered for a moment on Neville's cloak, which was fastened under his left ear, and on Ron's smudged nose. Cassiopeia nervously tried to flatten her hair.

"Not going to work, sweetheart, your dad's curse"..said amused Sirius 

"I shall return when we are ready for you," said Professor McGonagall. "Please wait quietly."

She left the chamber. Cassiopeia swallowed.

"How exactly do they sort us into houses?" she asked Ron.

"No-one knows before the Sorting, its like a tradition." said Professor Vector 

"Some sort of test, I think. Fred said it hurts a lot, but I think he was joking."

Fred grinned evilly. 

"Oh, Ron, you shouldn't believe a word they say"..Charlie commented

Cassiopeia's heart gave a horrible jolt. A test? In front of the whole school? But she didn't know any magic yet —what on earth would she have to do? She hadn't expected something like this the moment they arrived. She looked around anxiously and saw that everyone else looked terrified, too. No one was talking much except Hermione Granger, who was whispering very fast about all the spells she'd learned and wondering which one she'd need.

"That made me so stressed" .said Neville

Hermione blushed 

Cassiopeia tried hard not to listen to her. She'd never been more nervous, never, not even when she'd had to take a school report home to the Dursleys saying that she'd somehow turned her teacher's wig blue.

Everyone started to laugh.

"Brilliant! Cant you do it here?" Fred questioned.

Cassiopeia looked at her Head of the House..

"I think I like living, so no..not really" Even if it was so tempting...Snape with pink hear..

She kept her eyes fixed on the door. Any second now, Professor McGonagall would come back and lead her to her doom.

"Dramatic much" Lavander said while rolling her eyes.

Then something happened that made her jump about a foot in the air — several people behind her screamed.

"What the —?"

"GHOSTS!" screamed Sirius 

 

She gasped. So did the people around her. About twenty ghosts had just streamed through the back wall.

Pearly-white and slightly transparent, they glided across the room talking to one another and hardly glancing at the first years. They seemed to be arguing. What looked like a fat little monk was saying: "Forgive and forget, I say, we ought to give him a second chance —"

"So they really do the same thing every year.." a Ravenclaw seven student sigh 

"They did it when I was a student..so.." Remus responded fondly

"My dear Friar, haven't we given Peeves all the chances he deserves? He gives us all a bad name and you know, he's not really even a ghost — I say, what are you all doing here?"

A ghost wearing a ruff and tights had suddenly noticed the first years.

"Fat Friar" the Hufflepuffs said happily.

Nobody answered.

"New students!" said the Fat Friar, smiling around at them. "About to be Sorted, I suppose?"

A few people nodded mutely.

"Hope to see you in Hufflepuff!" said the Friar. "My old house, you know."

"Obviously, considering he is their ghost"..muttered forth year Gryffindor

"Move along now," said a sharp voice. "The Sorting Ceremony's about to start."

Professor McGonagall had returned.

One by one, the ghosts floated away through the opposite wall.

"Now, form a line," Professor McGonagall told the first years, "and follow me."

Feeling oddly as though her legs had turned to lead, Cassiopeia  got into line behind a boy with sandy hair, with Ron behind her, and they walked out of the chamber, back across the hall, and through a pair of double doors into the Great Hall.

Cassiopeia had never even imagined such a strange and splendid place.

"I got that impression too" Dean murmured.

It was lit by thousands and thousands of candles that were floating in midair over four long tables, where the rest of the students were sitting. These tables were laid with glittering golden plates and goblets. At the top of the hall was another long table where the teachers were sitting. Professor McGonagall led the first years up here, so that they came to a halt in a line facing the other students, with the teachers behind them. The hundreds of faces staring at them looked like pale lanterns in the flickering candlelight. Dotted here and there among the students, the ghosts shone misty silver. Mainly to avoid all the staring eyes, Cassiopeia looked upward and saw a velvety black ceiling dotted with stars. She heard Hermione whisper, "Its bewitched to look like the sky outside. I read about it in Hogwarts, A History ."

Ron groaned.."Of course, that bloody "Hogwarts A History.." he wouldn't read it on principle, just to annoy Hermione.

It was hard to believe there was a ceiling there at all, and that the Great Hall didn't simply open on to the heavens.

"My thoughts exactly.." said Luna in her dreamy voice

Cassiopeia quickly looked down again as Professor McGonagall silently placed a four-legged stool in front of the first years. On top of the stool she put a pointed wizard's hat. This hat was patched and frayed and extremely dirty. Aunt Petunia wouldn't have let it in the house.

"Freeeeed...what would you say.." began George with a sly smile

"WEASLEY! You will NOT bring the Hat to the Dursley house, don't you dare!"..Professor McGonagall was trained to sense a prank immediately. How could she not..those troublemakers..The Marauders, The twins and now..The Golden Trio. 

"Why,,why me? Why is it always my house"..she thought.

The twins looked sad. 

Maybe they had to try and get a rabbit out of it , Cassiopeia thought wildly, that seemed the sort of thing

Many muggleborns started to laugh hysterically.

noticing that everyone in the hall was now staring at the hat, she stared at it, too. For a few seconds, there was complete silence. Then the hat twitched. A rip near the brim opened wide like a mouth — and the hat began to sing:

"Sing Tonks Sing!" The twins shouted.

And so she did, her hair changing colours rapidly 

"Oh, you may not think I'm pretty,

But don't judge on what you see,

I'll eat myself if you can find

A smarter hat than me.

You can keep your bowlers black,

Your top hats sleek and tall,

For I'm the Hogwarts Sorting Hat

And I can cap them all.

There's nothing hidden in your head

The Sorting Hat can't see,

So try me on and I will tell you

Where you ought to be.

You might belong in Gryffindor,

Where dwell the brave at heart,

Their daring, nerve, and chivalry

Set Gryffindors apart;

You might belong in Hufflepuff,

Where they are just and loyal,

Those patient Hufflepuffs are true

And unafraid of toil;

Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,

if you've a ready mind,

Where those of wit and learning,

Will always find their kind;

Or perhaps in Slytherin

You'll make your real friends,

Those cunning folk use any means

To achieve their ends.

So put me on! Don't be afraid!

And don't get in a flap!

You're in safe hands (though I have none)

For I'm a Thinking Cap!"

The whole hall burst into applause

as the hat finished its song. It bowed to each of the four tables and then became quite still again.

"Great voice, Tonksiii, girl"..Charlie grinned at his old friend

Tonks just rolled her eyes.

"So we've just got to try on the hat!" Ron whispered to Cassi. "I'll kill Fred, he was going on about wrestling a troll."

The trio looked at each other and burst out laughing.

"Seems like Fred has some seer blood in him" Cassiopeia whispered to her two friends.

Cassiopeia smiled weakly. Yes, trying on the hat was a lot better than having to do a spell, but she did wish they could have tried it on without everyone watching. The hat seemed to be asking rather a lot; Cassi didn't feel brave

"Well, of course not! It wasn't a grave dander after all" Hemione laughed 

"Yeah, no giants snakes or murderous teachers.." Ron continued.

Cassiopeia wished they would stop. Remus and Sirius were looking wide eyes. 

or quick-witted or any of it at the moment. If only the hat had mentioned a house for people who felt a bit queasy, that would have been the one for her.

"That would be the one for everyone at some point, Miss Potter" corrected her Professor Sinistra 

Professor McGonagall now stepped forward holding a long roll of parchment.

"When I call your name, you will put on the hat and sit on the stool to be sorted," she said. "Abbott, Hannah!"

A pink-faced girl with blonde pigtails stumbled out of line, put on the hat, which fell right down over her eyes, and sat down. A moments pause —

"Hufflepuff." Hannah whispered proudly

"That was bloody strange..commenting your own past sorting"..murmured her housemate Ernie

"HUFFLEPUFF!" shouted the hat.

Said House clapped.

The table on the right cheered and clapped as Hannah went to sit down at the Hufflepuff table. Cassi saw the ghost of the Fat Friar waving merrily at her.

"Bones, Susan!"

"Hufflepuff of course, no doubt there" said Neville loudly

Susan looked at him.

Sensing the question, Neville said blushing "Well, you are really fair and loyal. Hardworking, always have been. It is what Hufflepuff stands for,isn't it ?"

Amelia was smiling proudly. Being a Hufflepuff herself, she was please to know that Susan had those qualities.

"HUFFLEPUFF!" shouted the hat again, and Susan scuttled off to sit next to Hannah.

"Boot, Terry!"

"Ravenclaw" his friends whispered.

"RAVENCLAW!"

"Really suits you, Terry" Cassiopeia commented fondly. "You are one of the best in the research and your intelligence goes beyond books" she continued.

Terry blushed deep red. Thank you, Cassi"

Adrian Pucey looked sharply at the boy,

Tracey and Daphne giggled. Blaise just shook his head.

The table second from the left clapped this time; several Ravenclaws stood up to shake hands with Terry as he joined them.

"Brocklehurst, Mandy" went to Ravenclaw too, but "Brown, Lavender"

The Gryffs cheered loudly, as usual...

became the first new Gryffindor,

Lavender smiled "Wouldn't have it any other way.."

and the table on the far left exploded with cheers; Cassiopeia could see Ron's twin brothers catcalling.

"Fred, George!..they mother wasn't pleased 

"Bulstrode, Millicent" then became a Slytherin. Perhaps it was Cassiopeia's imagination, after all she'd heard about Slytherin, but she thought they looked like an unpleasant lot.

"Before you anyone ask me..please, continue Tonks.."Cassiopeia announced 

"But then she interrupted herself angrily. How would she look or feel if half of the school disliked her just because she wore silver and green? Hated her for being sly, sneaky or cunning. People judged the entire House just because that bloody monster was there years ago? She doubt that every single evil wizard was from Slytherin house. The Dursley disliked people based on their social status, their origins, preferences and so many other things. Cassiopeia promised herself that she wouldn't do it. You can't judge someone without knowing them.

Ron and Hermione were smiling at her,.

"So young, so wise.."said Albus proudly

Severus Snape started to cough loudly and Minerva was grinning rather sly at him. She was daring Snape to say something!

The noble house of Salazar looked appalled. THE Cassiopeia Potter didn't hate them all. In fact she was angry on their behalf. It made them feel warm, pleased and most of all...grateful.

Said girl received many smiles from snakes.

"That was..very fair and kind of you, Miss Black-Potter, thank you" Adrian said respectfully 

"You have nothing to thank me fore,it is the truth, there is nothing wrong with being  sneaky or cunning. I think its rather good qualities to have"

"I agree with Cassi. Slytherin qualities saved us from quit a lot of trouble"..Ron announced.

"Indeed, you are very fair, I think Seamus has a point..the Hat couldn't overlook it"..Justin was muttering loudly. 

Yes, she is, is she not? You would have done so well in my house. To tell you the truth, my bet was on Hufflepuff as well"..aded Professor Sprout blushing a bit.

Cassiopeia winked at them.."Soon you will know.

She looked at her Headmaster, well, he made a right bet, Cassiopeia thought at the end of the chapter Albus will have some gold"

She was starting to feel definitely sick. She remembered being picked for teams during gym at her old school. She had always been last to be chosen, not because she was no good, but because no one wanted Dudley to think they liked her.

Many people frowned.

Sirius muttered something nasty under his breath..

"Finch-Fletchley, Justin!"

"HUFFLEPUFF!"

Sometimes, Cassiopeia noticed, the hat shouted out the house at once, but at others it took a little while to decide. "Finnigan, Seamus," the sandy-haired boy next to Cassi in the line, sat on the stool for almost a whole minute before the hat declared him a Gryffindor.

Seamus gave her a wink. "The Hat considered Hufflepuff"

"It is not uncommon for a student to be suited for more than one house"..Dumbledore explained to the Hall.

"Granger, Hermione!"

"Well, that one I would like to know"..Padma said

Hermione almost ran to the stool and jammed the hat eagerly on her head.

Hermione blushed.

"GRYFFINDOR!" shouted the hat.

"It didn't consider you for anything else"..asked Remus curiously 

"Oh, it did. The Hat wanted to put me in Ravenclaw at first, but soon changed it minds. Said that I would find my true potential in Gryffindor. The Hat said that I will learn there more, that I will have something more than just books to live for"..Hermione explained and than she aded strongly "And I do not regret it for a second"

Ron groaned.

Present Hermione smacked Ron,

A horrible thought struck Cassiopeia, as horrible thoughts always do when you're very nervous. What if she wasn't chosen at all?

Several people shook their heads amused.

"Damn pessimist you are" Anthony said

What if she just sat there with the hat over her eyes for ages, until Professor McGonagall jerked it off her head and said there had obviously been a mistake and she'd better get back on the train?

Minerva chuckled "That would't be a problem. You received your latter and I can assure you no mistake can be done  in that department. 

When Neville Longbottom, the boy who kept losing his toad, was called, he fell over on his way to the stool.

The hat took a long time to decide with Neville. When it finally shouted, "GRYFFINDOR,"

"I thought I wasn't a Gryffindor material to be honest. The Hat argued with me, said it knew better. It explained to me that bravery come's in many forms and I will find it soon enough in the lions house. It also said that I will find a person who will believe in me no matter what." Neville explained his sorting.

"Neville, you are brave, always had been. Your only problem was your own self-esteem." Cassiopeia assured him.

Neville ran off still wearing it,

and had to jog back amid gales of laughter to give it to "MacDougal, Morag."

Malfoy swaggered forward when his name was called and got his wish at once: the hat had barely touched his head when it screamed, "SLYTHERIN!"

"I still can't believe it, you know.." Moon said angrily 

"And what is this supposed to mean,Moon? My family.." Malfoy puffed his chest 

"Oh, do shut up, Malfoy! Just because your family have been in Slytherin does not mean you belong here. What Lily was trying to say is that you are no cunning, neither very ambitious. Unless, you greatest ambition is to boast about your damn father!"..spat Cassius.

"Actually, I think at that time Malfoy didn't have any noticeable traits of any of the houses. So,naturally, the Hat placed him where he wanted to go the most. I mean, it would explained Grabbe and Goyle, you know" Cassiopeia added.

The Slytherins looked pensive.

"You know, Potter does have a point, I mean Crabbe and Goyle..well, I am surprised they  have any magic in them at all "..agreed Higgs.

Malfoy was red and shaking with anger, Snape couldn't hold it.

"You do not have a right to speak of Mister Malfoy traits, being a Gryffindor yourself, what could you possibly know about Slytherin, foolish girl!" ..and that was the wrong thing to say..

"Mind your tone when you speak to my goddaughter, Snape!" Sirius shouted dangerously 

Minerva was glaring daggers 

"I think, Cassiopeia knows much more about being a TRUE Slytherin that YOU could ever hoped"..Andromeda said viciously.

"I think, Professor..(sneered Cassiopeia) I am allowed to have my own opinion"..she said coldly 

" Fifty points from Gryffindor for your disrespect, you brat! Snape shouted 

Albus stood from his seat. He looked at his potion master coldly.."Severus, I believe you are out of line. No points will be taken from Gryffindor as there was no disrespect from anyone, but you here. Please, mind your tong when you speak to our students." his tone was sharp, cold and disappointed.

Adrian clenched his fits. He looked at Cassius and Terence. " It seems that Malfoy is not the only one who has no honour, fairness or ability to see things clear. Our Head of the house is clearly unable to hear the truth, unable to behave himself according to our Code when it come to lions or Black-Potter in particular."

Many agreed, they were looking at Severus with disappointment. Snape was loosing their trust. If he ever loose their respect...

Malfoy went to join his friends Crabbe and Goyle, looking pleased with himself.

There weren't many people left now. "Moon"…, "Nott"… , "Parkinson"… , then a pair of twin girls, "Patil" and "Patil"… , then "Perks, Sally-Anne"… , and then, at last —

The Hall was silent. People leaned closer in anticipation

"Potter, Cassiopeia!"

"I bet it was only Gryffindor.."muttered Cho

"I think the Hat could consider our house"..said Justin to Ernie, his friend agreed silently. 

"She has a good mind, I believe she could be in my house" Professor Flitwick murmured 

As Cassiopeia stepped forward, whispers suddenly broke out like little hissing fires all over the hall.

"Potter, did she say?"

"The Cassiopeia Potter?"

The last thing Cassi saw before the hat dropped over her eyes was the hall full of people craning to get a good look at her. Next second she was looking at the black inside of the hat. She waited.

Si did the entire Hall.

"Hmm," said a small voice in his ear. "Difficult. Very difficult.

"I told you so.."..muttered Seamus 

Plenty of courage, I see.

"Of course she has plenty, she is a lion!"..announced Collin 

And loyalty! By Merlin, you are loyal to the end..yes, Helga would like you to be in her house.

"Hoo! I won! I won! I told you all!!" Seamus was almost dancing..

"Not to kill the mood or anything..but I didn't finish..yet" Tonks said amused.

I must admit, you are very fair. Won't tolerate injustice in any shape or form. You aren't blind,though, Your trust and loyalty should be earned, Thats good..sometimes loyalty and absolute trust could kill you.

Sirius closed his eyes .."James..."he thought.

Not a bad mind either. Rowena thinks you will find your place in her house.

Flitwick looked hopeful..

But Tonks didn't stop there..

But Salazar's temper is rising. He wants you in his house like nobody else before you. There's talent, A my goodness, yes — and a nice thirst to prove yourself, now that's interesting You are ambitions, but only in the matter of helping people. You can be great, you know? Slytherins will appreciate your power. You could make our world a better place, oh yes, you could. Miss Black-Potter, you are pretty cunning and sneaky when you have to be . Well, it did help you survive those years, I see.. Would go to any menace for people you care about.  Salazar doesn't wish to share you,

But..I am Goodric's Hat, you know, and Gryffindor throwing a fit right now, the famous Goodric's temper tantrum. You know, he sees himself in you, well you are his child after all,

The snakes caught the Hats words pretty quickly.Politicks, bloodlines..for a slytherin-mother milk.

They looked at each other. Could she be..?

but yes, he does have a point. You are as reckless, as brave and tiny bit of crazy as my old owner. 

… So where shall I put you? You would do well in all the great four, however...a lion heart with the minds of snakes..that would be interesting...

 — better be GRYFFINDOR!"

Silence. Absolute silence..Students, guests and teachers all looking at her with wide eyes, jaws lost...

Snape was frozen..he couldn't belive it. Salazar himself? Wanted her..but why? She was nothing..no talent and no power. But Severus couldn't pretend anymore. The books were true. He didn't need to anger the Magic herself. He couldn't afford more mistakes with his House either.

"Bloody f,,king Merlin.." that came from Bill Weasley.

"But how..? I mean..One person..all the four houses ?" Padma was trying to figure it out, her bet was Gryffindor and Ravenclaw.

Remus and Sirius made a bet for Gryffindor and Slytherin, but even the two Marauders couldn't believe a word they heard,,Oh, they new Cassiopeia was special, but to hear that all Founders were arguing about her place..that was something to be bloody proud!

"I wish they were here"..murmured Remus,

Sirius knew exactly what his friend meant. "James and Lily..your girl is incredible" he thought

"I do belive I have some money to collect" Albus wasn't surprise. In fact Headmaster was enjoying himself

and s did Zabini.

"My fellow snakes, I am happy to inform you that I won as well"

His housemates were too out of their own heads to answer.

"Forgive me, Albus..what I would like to know is..did Cassiopeia told you this? I mean how could you possible.." Minerva didn't finish her sentence.

Albus chuckled 

"I don't think she did, you know?"..it came from Luna. She had a serene look on her face. Her voice melodic. "Headmaster Albus Dumbledore and Cassiopeia are too similar, no words are needed. When you see you own younger self in someone else...It doesn't really take much to know certain things. Isn't it right, Headmaster? "

"Miss Lovegood are indeed correct. In my youth I was told something similar. Of course no Founder have been arguing for me..but still" Albus tried to hide his surprise.Could she truly see what others weren't able? How deep as a person Luna Lovegood truly was?

"Hmm...sorry, sir..Should I go on.."? Tonks asked a bit unsure. 

The occupants of the Hall seems to be far from here. All looking pensive.

"Continue with the book, auror Tonks, we must finish it before our little break.

Cassiopeia heard the hat shout the last word to the whole hall. She took off the hat and walked shakily toward the Gryffindor table. She was so relieved to have been chosen at all, she hardly noticed that she was getting the loudest cheer yet. Percy the Prefect got up and shook her hand vigorously, while the Weasley twins yelled, "We got Potter! We got Potter!"

Which they were re-doing right now.It seems the Weasley twins come out of their stupor fast enough.

Cassiopeia sat down opposite the ghost in the ruff she'd seen earlier. The ghost patted her arm, giving Cassiopeia the sudden, horrible feeling she'd just plunged it into a bucket of ice-cold water.

She could see the High Table properly now. At the end nearest her sat Hagrid, who caught her eye and gave her the thumbs up. Cassi grinned back. And there, in the centre of the High Table, in a large gold chair, sat Albus Dumbledore. Cassiopeia recognized him at once from the card she'd gotten out of the Chocolate Frog on the train.

Dumbledore smiled. He thought it was his greatest achievement, the Chocolate Frog cart.

Dumbledore's silver hair was the only thing in the whole hall that shone as brightly as the ghosts.

The Headmaster smiled "Really?"

Minerva tried not to giggle

Cassiopeia spotted Professor Quirrell, too, the nervous young man from the Leaky Cauldron. He was looking very peculiar in a large purple turban.

"Well obviously, if I had a bloody head of the mass murder,growing out of the back of mine I would wear a turban too." Ron muttered to Cassiopeia and Hermione.

The girls startled.

And now there were only three people left to be sorted. "Thomas, Dean," a Black boy even taller than Ron, joined Cassi at the Gryffindor table.

"Turpin, Lisa," became a Ravenclaw and then it was Ron's turn. He was pale green by now. Cassiopeia crossed her fingers under the table

"Thanks, mate!"

"You were my first friend,Ron. I wanted us to stay together" the girls responded 

and a second later the hat had shouted, "GRYFFINDOR!"

"Well...it was rather fast.." said Tracey, trying to hide her question.

"Yeah, I mean..it didn't consider anything else, not really. The Hat did say that I was as loyal as half of the badgers, but the person who needed it the most was in the house of red and gold. It also said that I will learn to accept myself in there. Said I will grow as a human being, and as a friend." Ron smiled, answering the unspoken question of Tracey

"Slytherins...could have just asked me directly"..he though

Cassiopeia clapped loudly with the rest as Ron collapsed into the chair next to her.

"Well done, Ron, excellent," said Percy Weasley pompously

"Pompous prat!" The Weasley's muttered.

across Cassioepeia as "Zabini, Blaise," was made a Slytherin.

"Why..I am glad to be noticed,by you dear Lady Black-Potter" teased her Blaise, but it was good naturally 

The girl winked at him "Why..I am glad I could make you feel proud. I am the Girl who Lived after all"..she grinned at him.

Blaise was laughing. "If it wasn't for Adrian and the fact that he played for another team..well, he thought it was worth to get her know anyway"

"Stop it, Blaise, I know what you are doing"..Daphne whispered 

"Whatever do you mean,oh the great Ice Queen"

Tracey rolled her eyes "What she means is that you are trying to make Adrian jealous, so he would make a damn move..and judging by his face its working. Do continue"

"Tracey!" exclaimed her friend.

"Com on,Daph, you know Adrian...without a little push he is going to seat on his arse until the book five"

Daphne narrowed her eyes.."You two started a betting pool, didn't you?"

Nether Blaise no Tracey looked guilty about it. They just grinned in a sly Slytherin way.

Professor McGonagall rolled up her scroll and took the Sorting Hat away.

Cassiopeia looked down at her empty gold plate. She had only just realised how hungry she was. The pumpkin pasties seemed ages ago.

Albus Dumbledore had gotten to his feet. He was beaming at the students, his arms opened wide, as if nothing could have pleased him more than to see them all there.

"Because nothing could please me more, than our School full of young talents and brilliant minds"...he agreed 

Welcome," he said. "Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!

"Great speech,Headmaster! Did you write it before?" Cassi asked amused

"Thank you, my dear girl! I did not, it was a moment of inspiration"

Terry turned to Anthony "You know what,Luna is right..they are similar. Mental the both of them"

"Thank you!"

He sat back down. Everybody clapped and cheered. Cassiopeia thought it was funny, but she did ask....

"Is he — a bit mad?" she asked Percy uncertainly.

"All of the best people are." Dumbledore announced 

McGonagall pressed her lips tightly. Why did he always encouraged something crazy in their students..No wonder Cassiopeia, Ron and Hermione were in trouble every year..

"Mad?" said Percy airily. "He's a genius! Best wizard in the world! But he is a bit mad, yes. Potatoes, Cassiopeia"

Students laughed.

Percy Weasley was red.

Cassiopeia's mouth fell open. The dishes in front of her were now piled with food.

"Foooood..."Ron moaned 

Hermione groaned.."Honestly,Ronald..."

She had never seen so many things she liked to eat on one table: roast beef, roast chicken, pork chops and lamb chops, sausages, bacon and steak, boiled potatoes, roast potatoes, fries, Yorkshire pudding, peas, carrots, gravy, ketchup, and, for some strange reason, peppermint humbugs.

The Dursleys had never exactly starved Cassiopeia,

"That is the matter of your definition of the word "starve"..Missis Weasley said angrily, thinking again about those..those...uhhh

but she'd never been allowed to eat as much as she liked. Dudley had always taken anything that Cassiopeia really wanted, even if it made him sick. Cassi piled her plate with a bit of everything except the peppermints and began to eat. It was all delicious.

"That does look good," said the ghost in the ruff sadly, watching Cassi cut up her steak.

"Can't you —?"

"So polite, so kind..." cooed Molly

"I haven't eaten for nearly five hundred years," said the ghost. "I don't need to, of course, but one does miss it. I don't think I've introduced myself? Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington at your service. Resident ghost of Gryffindor Tower."

"I know who you are!" said Ron suddenly. "My brothers told me about you — you're Nearly Headless Nick!"

"Let me guess. The brothers were Fred and George." A random Slytherin muttered, however it was without the usual venom

"I would prefer you to call me Sir Nicholas de Mimsy —" the ghost began stiffly, but sandy-haired Seamus Finnigan interrupted.

"Thank for that, Seamus! It killed my appetite..." Lavender muttered 

"Nearly Headless? How can you be nearly headless?"

Sir Nicholas looked extremely miffed, as if their little chat wasn't going at all the way he wanted.

"Like this," he said irritably. He seized his left ear and pulled. His whole head swung off his neck and fell onto his shoulder as if it was on a hinge. Someone had obviously tried to behead him, but not done it properly.

Looking pleased at the stunned looks on their faces, Nearly Headless Nick flipped his head back onto his neck, coughed, and said, "So — new Gryffindors! I hope you're going to help us win the house championship this year? Gryffindors have never gone so long without winning. Slytherins have got the cup six years in a row! The Bloody Baron's becoming almost unbearable — he's the Slytherin ghost."

Many people shuddered.

Ron and Hermione looked at their friend.

"What are you looking..he is not that bad, actually he is kind of nice" Cassi said 

Cassiopeia  looked over at the Slytherin table and saw a horrible ghost sitting there, with blank staring eyes, a gaunt face, and robes stained with silver blood. He was right next to Malfoy who, Cassiopeia was pleased to see, didn't look too pleased with the seating arrangements.

"So were we, so were we"..said Moon, remembering the event. Draco did complain afterwards. Something about disrespect to the great line of..bla bla

"Its not like he could complained to daddy dearest.."commented Hermione

"Yeah, that would go well.."Daddy, daddy can you deal with the Baron, can you bribe someone so he leaves me alone" Ron put a terrible mocking voice.

Tracey though she liked his sarcasm..

Malfoy pretend he didn't hear anything.

"How did he get covered in blood?" asked Seamus with great interest.

"I've never asked," said Nearly Headless Nick delicately.

"Your father and this mutt did"..said Remus

"Yeah, he chased us for a week"..muttered said mutt.

When everyone had eaten as much as they could, the remains of the food faded from the plates, leaving them sparkling clean as before. A moment later the desserts appeared. Blocks of ice cream in every flavor you could think of, apple pies, treacle tarts, chocolate éclairs and jam doughnuts, trifle, strawberries, Jell-O, rice pudding…

As Cassiopeia helped herself to a treacle tart,

"My favorite dessert" she said.

"Take some notes, Adrian",,Cassius teased.

Adrian gave him an irritated look.

He did tried to remember everything she like or dislike, however.

the talk turned to their families.

"I'm half-and-half," said Seamus. "Me dad's a Muggle. Mom didn't tell him she was a witch 'til after they were married. Bit of a nasty shock for him."

The others laughed.

'Not a laughing matter!' Cassiopeia thought. It could have gone very tragic. Seamus was lucky

Said boy agreed. He was so grateful for his dad..seeing those Dursley opened his eyes 

"What about you, Neville?" said Ron.

"Well, my gran brought me up and she's a witch," said Neville, "but the family thought I was all-Muggle for ages. My Great Uncle Algie kept trying to catch me off my guard and force some magic out of me — he pushed me off the end of Blackpool pier once, I nearly drowned — but nothing happened until I was eight. Great Uncle Algie came round for dinner, and he was hanging me out of an upstairs window by the ankles

"Oh my God!" a startled McGonagall said. "I will have words with your grandmother, rest assured, Longbottom!"

when my Great Auntie Enid offered him a meringue and he accidentally let go. But I bounced — all the way down the garden and into the road. They were all really pleased, Gran was crying, she was so happy. And you should have seen their faces when I got in here — they thought I might not be magic enough to come, you see. Great Uncle Algie was so pleased he bought me my toad."

Susan didn't look pleased.."A toad...a toad?! He shouldn't be able to go near you after that! That is...horrible!"

Her ant agreed. "Augusta..do you have any sense left" Amelia thought.

On Cassiopeia's other side, Percy Weasley and Hermione were talking about lessons

"Really? What a surprise.."muttered George

("I do hope they start right away, there's so much to learn, I'm particularly interested in Transfiguration,

you know, turning something into something else, of course, it's supposed to be very difficult —"; "You'll be starting small, just matches into needles and that sort of thing — ").

Cassiopeia, who was starting to feel warm and sleepy, looked up at the High Table again. Hagrid was drinking deeply from his goblet. Professor McGonagall was talking to Professor Dumbledore. Professor Quirrell, in his absurd turban, was talking to a teacher with greasy black hair, a hooked nose, and sallow skin.

"Professor Snape!" a few people exclaimed.

Snape glared, but did not say a word.He can't punish her for the thoughts, can he?

It happened very suddenly. The hook-nosed teacher looked past Quirrell's turban straight into Cassiopeia's eyes — and a sharp, hot pain shot across the scar on Cassi's forehead.

"Wait..what, what the HELL?"..Sirius growled.

"Severus, do tell me you didn't use..."Minerva started 

"I did nothing to the b...girl", he corrected himself, seeing Adrian's cold eyes.

"Professor, Siri..he didn't. It was something else..someone else.."Cassiopeia hurried, before Sirius could kill Snape.

Remus and Sirius didn't look like it made them feel better. 

"Ouch!" Cassiopeia clapped a hand to her head.

"What is it?" asked Percy.

"N-nothing."

The pain had gone as quickly as it had come. Harder to shake off was the feeling Cassiopeia had gotten from the teacher's look — a feeling that he didn't like Cassiopeia at all.

"What made you think that? George asked innocently.

"Who's that teacher talking to Professor Quirrell?" she asked Percy.

"Oh, you know Quirrell already, do you? No wonder he's looking so nervous, that's Professor Snape. He teaches Potions, but he doesn't want to — everyone knows he's after Quirrell's job. Knows an awful lot about the Dark Arts, Snape."

"Not a crime, actually"..said Ron

"In order to fight something, you have to know it"..agreed Cassi

"Besides not all the spells which considered dark are evil"..added Hermione

Cassiopeia watched Snape for a while, but Snape didn't look at her again.

"Why should I..?" he sneered

At last, the desserts too disappeared, and Professor Dumbledore got to his feet again. The hall fell silent.

"Ahem — just a few more words now that we are all fed and watered. I have a few start-of-term notices to give you.

"First years should note that the forest on the grounds is forbidden to all pupils. And a few of our older students would do well to remember that as well."

Dumbledore's twinkling eyes flashed in the direction of the Weasley twins.

Their mother had a stern look.

"Oh, it used to be us, do you remember, Remus?" Sirius asked, looking way to far from the present

"How could I ever forget".. said Remus, with a soft nostalgic smile

"I have also been asked by Mr. Filch, the caretaker, to remind you all that no magic should be used between classes in the corridors.

"Quidditch trials will be held in the second week of the term. Anyone interested in playing for their house teams should contact Madam Hooch.

Oliver looked at Cassiopeia..."My seeker,,the year I have found my best seeker...I am so glad that damn Hat placed you in Gryffindor..I don't want even think about..." he was muttering madly

Angelina giggled

Katie sigh..It was no use. Oliver will never change.

"And finally, I must tell you that this year, the third-floor corridor on the right-hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a very painful death."

The trio looked at each other.

"ALBUS:...YOU DIDNT JUST SAID THAT IN FRONT OF CURUIS KIDS"..Molly shouted 

"Mmm..I suppose I did, Molly"..Albus felt rather uncomfortable, Molly Weasley was someone you didn't really want to cross..not when it was about her kids

Cassiopeia laughed, but she was one of the few who did.

"He's not serious?"

she muttered to Percy.

"Must be," said Percy, frowning at Dumbledore. "It's odd, because he usually gives us a reason why we're not allowed to go somewhere — the forest's full of dangerous beasts, everyone knows that. I do think he might have told us prefects, at least."

"Bloody hell.." muttered Bill. He couldn't believe his brother. What a peacock. 

"And now, before we go to bed, let us sing the school song!" cried Dumbledore. Cassiopeia noticed that the other teachers' smiles had become rather fixed.

Many of the teachers moved uncomfortably 

"Must she noticed everything"..murmured Professor Vector

Dumbledore gave his wand a little flick, as if he was trying to get a fly off the end, and a long golden ribbon flew out of it, which rose high above the tables and twisted itself, snakelike, into words.

"Everyone pick their favorite tune," said Dumbledore, "and off we go!"

And the school bellowed:

"Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts,

Teach us something please,

Whether we be old and bald

Or young with scabby knees,

Our heads could do with filling

With some interesting stuff,

For now they're bare and full of air,

Dead flies and bits of fluff,

So teach us things worth knowing,

Bring back what we've forgot,

just do your best, we'll do the rest,

And learn until our brains all rot."

Everybody finished the song at different times. At last, only the Weasley twins were left singing along to a very slow funeral march.

Dumbledore conducted their last few lines with his wand and when they had finished, he was one of those who clapped loudest.

"Ah, music," he said, wiping his eyes. "A magic beyond all we do here! And now, bedtime. Off you trot!"

The Gryffindor first years followed Percy through the chattering crowds, out of the Great Hall, and up the marble staircase. Cassi's legs were like lead again, but only because she was so tired and full of food. She was too sleepy even to be surprised that the people in the portraits along the corridors whispered and pointed as they passed, or that twice Percy led them through doorways hidden behind sliding panels and hanging tapestries. They climbed more staircases, yawning and dragging their feet, and Cassiopeia was just wondering how much farther they had to go when they came to a sudden halt.

A bundle of walking sticks was floating in midair ahead of them, and as Percy took a step toward them they started throwing themselves at him.

"Peeves, I have missed that one!" Sirius yelled.

Students looked at him like he was crazy. Well, maybe he was bit..after all, Sirius was a Black.

"Peeves," Percy whispered to the first years. "A poltergeist." He raised his voice, "Peeves — show yourself."

A loud, rude sound, like the air being let out of a balloon, answered.

"Do you want me to go to the Bloody Baron?"

"Oh, no, don't pull that card so early"..Remus advised.

The prefects, Head Boy and Girl were taking notes right there. Anything to learn how to deal with Peeves.

There was a pop, and a little man with wicked, dark eyes and a wide mouth appeared, floating cross-legged in the air, clutching the walking sticks.

"Oooooooh!" he said, with an evil cackle. "Ickle Firsties! What fun!"

He swooped suddenly at them. They all ducked.

"Go away, Peeves, or the Baron'll hear about this, I mean it!" barked Percy.

Peeves stuck out his tongue, but before he vanished he looked right at Cassiopeia and gave her a small bow,

"Wait a second..what..why?" asked Roger Davies, the current Head Boy.

"Well, he did like James Potter and Sirius Black"..Remus answered, not very amused.

Nether was Minerva.

dropping the walking sticks on Neville's head. They heard him zooming away, rattling coats of armour as he passed.

"You want to watch out for Peeves," said Percy, as they set off again. "The Bloody Baron's the only one who can control him, he won't even listen to us prefects. Here we are."

At the very end of the corridor hung a portrait of a very fat woman in a pink silk dress.

"Password?" she said.

"Caput Draconis," said Percy, and the portrait swung forward to reveal a round hole in the wall. They all scrambled through it — Neville needed a leg up

Neville blushed.

and found themselves in the Gryffindor common room, a cozy, round room full of squashy armchairs.

"That sounds nice"..complimented Tracey

"Oh, it is, no offence guys, but your common room not as comfy..mfedbd..Ron couldn't finish. Hermione had her hand over his mouth, looking terrified 

 "And how would you know that, Weasley.."asked Warrington, with eyebrows raised.

"Wouldn't you like to know,Warrington.."Cassiopeia was fast to say something.

"Indeed, I think I would like to learn this secret ,myself" Adrian finally found his voice

"He has a gentle voice..or did I imagine..?Bloody hell, what am I thinking.." Cassiopeia cut her trail of thoughts.

"I promise you,Pucey, you will know all about it...the second book will tell"..insted she answered sly.

"What are you talking about!! They broke the rules! Cant you see it?? They broke illegally in your comonrrom..Salazar knows what they did!"Snape was shouting historically 

Adrian actually laughed in his face "Yes, I am aware that they did enter OUR common room, he stressed, however, as we all alive and well, One can assume the nothing dangerous was done"..he finished coldly,

Dumbledore was looking sadly at Severus. Such a pity, great minds..not a bad heart , but that dam bitterness was destroying him.

Percy directed the girls through one door to their dormitory and the boys through another. At the top of a spiral staircase — they were obviously in one of the towers — they found their beds at last: five four-posters hung with deep red, velvet curtains. Their trunks had already been brought up. Too tired to talk much, they pulled on their pajamas and fell into bed.

Cassiopeia  was too tired to speak, but before she closed her eyes she saw small initials craved on the back of her bed..L.M.E. Was it? 

"I think it was" Minerva smiled sadly.

"Yeah, I knew Lily did it. I did too." Amelia added, she was fighting her tears.

"What M stands for..?" Adrian asked, he then turned a bit red. Seems like he didn't realise he had spoken out load.

Blaise almost choked

Cassiopeia, feeling rather warm, smiled at him.."My mother's full name is..was..Lily Marie Evans" she said, looking in his eyes.

They hold each other gaze just a tiny bit longer, than was appropriate for strangers.

Ron began to mumble irritable about bloody morons and boys who weren't good enough, and what he is going to do..

Hermione placed a silence charm.

Ginny looked amused. At least he will leave her alone for a bit.

 

Perhaps Cassiopeia had eaten a bit too much, because she had a very strange dream. She was wearing Professor Quirrell's turban, which kept talking to her, telling her she must transfer to Slytherin at once, because it was her destiny.

"Strange dream.."muttered Padma

"Cassi, you know know..do you? Listen to your dreams, sometimes they have all the answers you need. Sometimes they can have signs." Luna whispered, enough to be heard.

Cassiopeia told the turban she didn't want to be in Slytherin; it got heavier and heavier; she tried to pull it off but it tightened painfully — and there was Malfoy, laughing at her as she struggled with it — then Malfoy turned into the hook-nosed teacher, Snape, whose laugh became high and cold — there was a burst of green light and Cassiopeia woke, sweating and shaking.

Her friends looked stunned...bloody Merlin...

She rolled over and fell asleep again, and when she woke next day, she didn't remember the dream at all.

"Well, that was the en of the chapter" Tonks announced stretching her arms and legs.

Dumbledore spoke in his calm voice " Now, we are going to have an hour of break. I think its time to have  lunch". At the last word he turn his gaze to Ron, amused,

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 9,

 

Cassiopeia was tired. She was currently seated by the Black lake, having lunch outside of the Castle.

Those damn books..she couldn't think about anything else really. Cassi leaned on the tree, eyes closed, the voices of Ron, Luna, Mione and Neville in the background.

She couldn't deny it wasn't bad..the books were helping, but taking too much in return. She was constantly alert, watching and waiting for something bad to happen.

The entire bloody school listened to her story, there were commenting her life, like it was some sort of review muggles usually left for movies or new fiction books. Cassiopeia didn't want to bitch about it to her friends. It could have been worse, she supposed. It just..she wanted to have something to herself. Since she was eleven and stepped her foot into this world, her life have never been her own, not really. Now, even her thoughts belong in the open..

Cassiopeia felt empty and cold.

That was why her friends brought her here. Outside the Castle, where they all were hiding from prying eyes and curious questions.

"Cassi, are you doing fine..all things considering?" Hermione'sl voice broke through her thoughts.

She pulled herself together.

"Could have been worse, I suppose"..she voiced her early thought.

Cassiopeia rather felt than saw, Ron moving right next to her, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder.

"I know you, I know this is all hard on you, mate..."

"If it can save people.." she tried again

Her best friend snorted.."Haven't you done enough? I know that we can't do anything really. I don't want to make things more complicated for you, mate. Just so you know, here and right now do not pretend to be fine. Say what you want, feel what you want..you deserve that much."

"It is Ok  not to be ok"..Luna said smiling sadly at her.

Cassiopeia leaned into their touches, trying hug them all at once.

"I truly have the best friends imaginable" 

 

xxxx

 

When their little group got back to the Hall, Cassiopeia couldn't hold a little smile.

It looked quite different, much more comfy. She was sure her grandpa-Albus had a hand in that. The Hall looked somehow bigger. Instead of long wooden benches there were armchairs, red, yellow, blue and green, comfortably looking sofas, everything was full of pillows. The ceiling displayed the starry sky, as she liked it. 

Cassiopeia noticed Sirius, in his grey robes, on one of the red and gold sofas. She rolled her eyes. Gryffindor to the end.

Remus occupied an armchair nearly. He was looking as tired as Cassiopeia felt.

"Fool moon is going to be in a week"  the girl reminded herself, heart heavy. 

They made their way to the Order, so they could seat with family for once. The trio needed all support they could get.

Cassiopeia decided to seat next to her godfather, at the end of the sofa with her head on the it handle and her legs on Sirius laps.

She noticed, that the nearest sofa was empty, strangely it was green and sliver, like a silent invitation. Cassiopeia just rolled her eyes, Dumbledore and his "house-unity-dream-obsession" of course he wouldn't miss such an opportunity.

The Headmaster looked very pleased with himself. He had one more reason for this arrangement. Oh yes, he may be old, but he was not blind, alright.

Soon enough they saw Adrian's group coming. What was looking like a Slytherin Court, were coming guarded as if they were ready for a cold greeting.

Cassiopeia smiled  and waved. Grateful for their past actions of keeping Malfoy in line.

Sirius tensed a bit, his eyes were mostly on Adrian.

Cassiopeia didn't understand.."What Adrian did to him? He was so polite..."

"Ah, welcome! Welcome my dear Slytherins. We have a place just for you! Is this sofa for your liking?" cheerfully spoke Albus, damn twinkle in his eyes. He was looking mostly at Adrian too.

Slytherins nodded respectfully and made themselves comfortable. It was not an easy task of course, considering, that the rest of their house was at the table, and they entered what could only be described as a lion den.

Zabini and Higgs made sure Adrian end up the the the beginning of their green sofa, So, aturally Pucey and Cassiopeia were seating on the different sofas, but close to each other. 

 

The chats ended fast as soon as Albus Dumbledore announced, that the reading will be continued.

No one tried to hide their curiosity anymore.

"Why weren't  you here, I mean at lunch" she heard a calm, gentle voice. It made her feel warmer yet again.

Cassi looked at the young man next to her "We wanted to have some peace. I mean, probably it was mostly me, I just needed to get out, you know?"

Adrian's fase softened, understanding in his eyes, kind smile played on his red lips.

"I suspected that much. You are very private person after all. That is very wise, hard in your case, but even more needed." he replied lightly. 

Adrian didn't try to comfort her with some common words or reassure  that it was all for the better. He stated it like the simply fact,-she felt light. 

It was his understanding and acceptance. He did't press the issue, didn't try to prey more. 

There were something in his grey-blue yeas..compassion, comfort or just the pretty colour, Cassiopeia Black-Potter felt calmer herself. 

 

Dumbledore cleared his throat. 

"Welcome back everyone. As you can see the teachers and myself felt like redecorating, so feel free to use it all. Students and Staff alike are free to place themselves wherever they find it fits. Let us all be back to our Miss Potter. I have a volunteer for the next chapter. Miss Moon, will be reading".

Albus levitated the book from the table right into Lily Moon's lap. The girl smiled happily, adjusted her  dark blue robs, Cassiopeia noticed, that she changed them from the 

school ones to informal. Actually, looking at her classmates and schoolmates, none of them wore they school uniform. 

"Shouldn't have run out of the hall without properly listening..what I would give for a pair of Jeans."..

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Chapter 10.

 

         "                                                                                                              "The Potions Master,"

 

Lily grimaced immediately. It couldn't be good.

Snape scowled. Who knew what would happen in this chapter?

"There, look."

"Where?"

"Next to the tall kid with the red hair."

Cassiopeia felt annoyed just remembering it all.

"You know, she isn't some sort of animal in the zoo." Andromeda said displeased.

"Wearing the glasses?"

"Did you see her face?"

"Very beautiful face..."  Pucey thought 

"Did you see her scar?"

 

Whispers followed Cassiopeia from the moment she left her dormitory the next day. People lining up outside classrooms stood on tiptoe to get a look at her, or doubled back to pass her in the corridors again, staring.

Many looked ashamed.

Cassiopeia wished they wouldn't,

Minerva gave Snape a pointed, stern look.

because she was trying to concentrate on finding her way to classes.

"I feel you, Cassi, I really do"..agreed Hannah, it was a nightmare back then.

There were a hundred and forty-two staircases at Hogwarts:

Hermione turned to her friend "You counted?"

Cassiopeia just shrugged. She didn't remember why she did it, okey? Maybe just out of curiosity.

wide, sweeping ones; narrow, rickety ones; some that led somewhere different on a Friday; some with a vanishing step halfway up that you had to remember to jump. Then there were doors that wouldn't open unless you asked politely, or tickled them in exactly the right place, and doors that weren't really doors at all, but solid walls just pretending. It was also very hard to remember where anything was, because it all seemed to move around a lot.

Sirius and Remus smiled. They found a way around it all.

The people in the portraits kept going to visit each other, and Cassiopeia was sure the coats of armor could walk.

Ron sighed. "They can"

The ghosts didn't help, either. It was always a nasty shock when one of them glided suddenly through a door you were trying to open. Nearly Headless Nick was always happy to point new Gryffindors in the right direction, he was especially polite and respectful with her. Like she was some sort of royalty,

but Peeves the Poltergeist was worth two locked doors and a trick staircase if you met him when you were late for class. Cassiopeia however couldn't help, but like the little guy. He was never mean to her. He bowed every time and called her little Potty and Blakieee Heiress,

MacGonagall groaned loudly. She looked about to bang her own head at the nearest wall.

He would drop wastepaper baskets on your head, pull rugs from under your feet, pelt you with bits of chalk, or sneak up behind you, invisible, grab your nose, and screech, "GOT YOUR CONK!"

Sirius brust into hysterical laughter.

Remus looked amused.."Well, it seems he is still doing that..emmm"

Minerva was glaring at her old students. "Mister Black, Mister Lupin do you have something to say about it?"

Under her gaze Remus felt like a student all over again.

He coughed awkwardly. "You see, James and Sirius taught him..."

Minerva pursed her lis. 

The Hall was trying not to laugh. Cassiopeia did have an interesting family, to say at very least.

Even worse than Peeves, if that was possible, was the caretaker, Argus Filch.

"Oh yeah, it is very much possible" muttered Neville, remembering their first year.

Cassiopeia and Ron managed to get on the wrong side of him on their very first morning.

"Congratulations!" George shouted

"Excellent"..confirmed Fred

"I am so proud of you both" yelled Sirius.

Arthur needed to put a hand on his wife shoulder, before she scowled all the three of them.

Filch found them trying to force their way through a door that unluckily turned out to be the entrance to the out-of-bounds corridor on the third floor.

Tracey looked quite amused.

He wouldn't believe they were lost, was sure they were trying to break into it on purpose, and was threatening to lock them in the dungeons when they were rescued by Professor Quirrell, who was passing.

"Sure, passing...more like testing the waters" Ron thought.

Filch owned a cat called Mrs. Norris, a scrawny, dust-colored creature with bulging, lamp like eyes just like Filch's. She patrolled the corridors alone. Break a rule in front of her, put just one toe out of line, and she'd whisk off for Filch, who'd appear, wheezing, two seconds later.

Filch knew the secret passageways of the school better than anyone (except perhaps the Weasley twins)

"And us! Don't forget about the legendary..." Sirius didn't finish.

Minerva used a silence charm. "They do not need more encouragement to break the rules, Black!" she shouted.

It was too late of course. The twins were looking curiously, never a good sign.

and could pop up as suddenly as any of the ghosts. The students all hated him, and it was the dearest ambition of many to give Mrs. Norris a good kick.

Nods of agreement could be seen in the Hall.

And then, once you had managed to find them, there were the classes themselves. There was a lot more to magic, as Cassiopeia quickly found out, than waving your wand and saying a few funny words.

They had to study the night skies through their telescopes every Wednesday at midnight and learn the names of different stars and the movements of the planets. Three times a week they went out to the greenhouses behind the castle to study Herbology, with a dumpy little witch called Professor Sprout,

Professor Sprout smiled.

where they learned how to take care of all the strange plants and fungi, and found out what they were used for. Easily the most boring class was History of Magic, which was the only one taught by a ghost. Professor Binns had been very old indeed when he had fallen asleep in front of the staff room fire and got up next morning to teach, leaving his body behind him. Binns droned on and on while they scribbled down names and dates, and got Emetic the Evil and Uric the Oddball mixed up.

"Damn boring, we used it to have a nap" muttered Remus.

Many of his ex students looked amused and curious at their Professor.

Professor Flitwick, the Charms teacher, was a tiny little wizard who had to stand on a pile of books to see over his desk.

Professor Flitwick started to chuckle.

At the start of their first class he took the roll call, and when he reached Cassi's name he gave an excited squeak and toppled out of sight.

Cassiopeia smiled "I think you are brilliant, Professor Flitwick.

Her teacher looked so pleased, his face was breaking.

Professor McGonagall was again different. Cassiopeia had been quite right to think she wasn't a teacher to cross. Strict and clever, she gave them a talking-to the moment they sat down in her first class.

"She hasn't changed." Sirius, free from the charm, said thoughtfully.

"Transfiguration is some of the most complex and dangerous magic you will learn at Hogwarts," she said. "Anyone messing around in my class will leave and not come back. You have been warned."

"But Miniiii, you never kicked us out.."Sirius added lightly.

Minerva scowled. "Do not call me that. Black! And to answer your question,well, you were some troublemakers, no denying, but were brilliant nevertheless.

Then she changed her desk into a pig and back again. They were all very impressed and couldn't wait to get started, but soon realized they weren't going to be changing the furniture into animals for a long time.

After taking a lot of complicated notes, they were each given a match and started trying to turn it into a needle. By the end of the lesson, only Cassiopeia and Hermione Granger had made any difference to their match; Professor McGonagall showed the class how it had gone all silver and pointy and gave them a rare smile.

Cassiopeia was playing with her needle,  changing it colours to red and gold, she concentrated, pulling her magic, imagining what she would like to have  and made it thicker, a tiny lion craved on it.

MacGonagall was so impressed, she awarded her thirty points and was smiling openly, her face soft.

"You father was one of my best students, you clearly inherited his talent. Well done, I will accept nothing more but improvement every lesson. She warned her, but in a voice full of kindness.

Everyone looked awed at McGonagall that she could smile.

Adrian was looking in awe at Cassiopeia. Her first year..? Merlin, but the girl has potential in her. Adrian knew, of course, that she was one of the tope student, he could see why now.

Cassiopeia stayed after the class. There was something she ended to know. McGonagall was her Head of the House, Cassi supposed she was the right person to ask.

"Professor, may I ask you something?" she started a bit unsure,

"Of course, Miss Potter, what can I do for you? Is there a problem?"

Cassiopeia bit her lip nervously, collecting herself,  she continued "No, not a problem really. Well, I couldn't help but notice,..you see, my letter,it was addressed to me as Miss Black-Potter..and I wanted to know, I need to know why?"

Clearly, Professor McGonagall was ready for this question. She did't look surprise, but a bit nervous. Her Head of the House was silent for a while, like she was trying to find the best way to answer..

"That because I was. Can you blame me?" present Minerva confirmed.

She sigh  heavily. "I was ready for you to ask me. It was about time, I suppose.

Cassiopeia, your grandmother was a Black. Dorea Black, strong and independent witch. She was very proud of her family history and achievements, not all of it, mind you! Professor added rather fast. "So you see you are a Black through her. The Black blood runs strong, so they say,

. When the time comes you will be studying all about it, you families history, allies, feuds and politics."

Cassiopeia felt like there was something more, something between the lines..

"You will be the Head of House Potter..and the Head of House Black.."

Draco Malfoy almost fated, he was white, his lips turning blue. 

"The thing..the thing you need to know, that you family have a very complicated  history, past and relations with each other. Blacks produced some of the best and cleverest wizards and witches of all time. They also have some of the worse.

"Bellatrix..." the name crossed Cassiopeia's minds.

There are things you will know with the time. For instance, why you have not just a Black name, but the ring of its Lady. It is not something you are ready to hear or could understand right now. I am aware that I am asking a lot, but please, try to have a bit of patience. You will know soon enough"

Cassiopeia wanted to ask, she wanted to know,,but her Professor looked so white, almost shaking. She thought maybe it was for the best? Not to know right know.

"You were thinking about me,weren't you, Minerva?" Sirius asked quietly, it  still hurts, that all of them believe he, Sirius Black could ever betray James,

MacGonagall looked ashamed "I am very sorry, Sirius....did know...I should have, I am sorry" she said in tears.

Her old student smiled sadly, but waved his hand  "I know you are, I understand" was all he said.

"I see, Professor McGonagall. You know, I wouldn't judge my whole family for what some  have done,however I get enough attention as it is. So I will not prey for know. Thank you for your time." Cassiopeia gave her a polite smile and hurried after to her next class.

 

The class everyone had really been looking forward to was Defense Against the Dark Arts,

Every occupant in the Hall snorted. The class was useless.

but Quirrell's lessons turned out to be a bit of a joke. His classroom smelled strongly of garlic, which everyone said was to ward off a vampire he'd met in Romania and was afraid would be coming back to get him one of these days.

"Oh, something did get him, but it wasn't a vampire"..Hermione muttered 

Remus was getting a bad feeling about it all.

His turban, he told them, had been given to him by an African prince as a thank-you for getting rid of a troublesome zombie, but they weren't sure they believed this story. For one thing, when Seamus Finnigan asked eagerly to hear how Quirrell had fought off the zombie, Quirrell went pink and started talking about the weather; for another, they had noticed that a funny smell hung around the turban, and the Weasley twins insisted that it was stuffed full of garlic as well, so that Quirrell was protected wherever he went.

"Not close enough" Cassiopeia said. 

Cassiopeia was very relieved to find out that she wasn't miles behind everyone else. Lots of people had come from Muggle families and, like her, hadn't had any idea that they were witches and wizards. There was so much to learn that even people like Ron didn't have much of a head start.

Friday was an important day for Cassiopeia and Ron.

"Why, did you do some pranks?" asked Sirius excitedly 

They finally managed to find their way down to the Great Hall for breakfast without getting lost once.

"Oh...well.."

"What have we got today?" Cassi asked Ron as she poured sugar on her porridge.

"Double Potions with the Slytherins," said Ron. "Snape's Head of Slytherin House. They say he always favours them — we'll be able to see if it's true."

"Yes! It is!" The half of the Hall shouted.

"Wish McGonagall favored us," said Cassiopeia.

"No I don't think so, Miss Black-Potter"..her Head replied strongly.

Professor McGonagall was head of Gryffindor House, but it hadn't stopped her from giving them a huge pile of homework the day before.

Just then, the mail arrived. Cassiopeia had gotten used to this by now, but it had given her a bit of a shock on the first morning, when about a hundred owls had suddenly streamed into the Great Hall during breakfast, circling the tables until they saw their owners, and dropping letters and packages onto their laps.

Hedwig hadn't brought Cassiopeia anything so far. She sometimes flew in to nibble her ear and have a bit of toast before going off to sleep in the owlery with the other school owls.

This morning, however, she fluttered down between the marmalade and the sugar bowl and dropped a note onto Cassiopeia's plate.

Cassi tore it open at once. It said, in a very untidy scrawl:

"Aww...Hagrid.." Sirius gushed 

Dear Cassi,

I know you get Friday afternoons off, so would you like to come and have a cup of tea with me around three?

I want to hear all about your first week. Send us an answer back with Hedwig.

Hagrid

Hagrid smiled. He liked having them.

Cassiopeia borrowed Ron's quill, scribbled Yes, please, see you later on the back of the note, and sent Hedwig off again.

It was lucky that Cassi had tea with Hagrid to look forward to, because the Potions lesson turned out to be the worst thing that had happened to her so far.

Lily Moon paused here, taking a deep breath.

Sirius growled deeply in his throat.

Slytherins were paying extra attention. Now many snakes can see it for themselves.

Professor McGonagall glared at Snape. If he was out of line...

At the start-of-term banquet, Cassiopeia had gotten the idea that Professor Snape disliked her. By the end of the first Potions lesson, she knew she'd been wrong.

"What?" Several people shouted appalled.

"Come again.." asked Terry surprised 

Snape didn't dislike Cassiopeia — he hated her

"And the world is right again…" said Fred.

Potions lessons took place down in one of the dungeons. It was colder here than up in the main castle, and would have been quite creepy enough without the pickled animals floating in glass jars all around the walls.

Snape, like Flitwick, started the class by taking the roll call, and like Flitwick, he paused at Cassiopeia's name.

"Ah, Yes," he said softly, "Cassiopeia Potter. Our new — celebrity."

"Who the old one was…" Susan mused.

Draco Malfoy and his friends Crabbe and Goyle sniggered behind their hands

"Obviously.." Zabini said sarcastically 

Snape finished calling the names and looked up at the class. His eyes were black like Hagrid's, but they had none of Hagrid's warmth. They were cold and empty and made you think of dark tunnels.

Snape scowled. "That little brat..."

"You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potion making," he began. He spoke in barely more than a whisper, but they caught every word — like Professor McGonagall, Snape had the gift of keeping a class silent without effort.

 "Don't comparing him to our mamma lion." Neville huffed 

"As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses… I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death if you aren't as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach."

Professor Vector turned to Professor Snape.

"It was a very good speech...until the last words!"

"You can't insult your own students, Severus!" huffed Sprout

Snape ignored them.

More silence followed this little speech. Cassiopeia and Ron exchanged looks with raised eyebrows. Hermione Granger was on the edge of her seat and looked desperate to start proving that she wasn't a dunderhead.

"Of course she was.." Ron muttered.

"Potter!" said Snape suddenly. "What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?"

"That's not a first year potion!" Professor McGonagall exclaimed.

Greengrass sisters looked stunned..What Snape was playing at..?" Potter was eleven, he has never seen her before..

 

She glanced at Ron, who looked  stumped,

But Cassiopeia read about it, she did know the question. So she answered  "asphodel and wormwood make a sleeping potion so powerful it is known as the Draught of Living Death,sir". 

Cassiopeia was sure the question wasn't for their first lesson.

"It wasn't, It is an OWL level, I can't believe you, Severus! normally calm Professor Flitwick was shouting, fury in his eyes.

 

Snape's lips curled into a sneer. Apparently, he wasn't pleased.

 

He ignored Hermione's hand.

"When he doesn't?"..Hermione asked venously

"Let's try again. Potter, where would you look if I told you to find me a bezoar?"

His colleagues looked appalled. 

"Severus, you know perfectly well, that this is not covered until forth year! Professor Sinistra almost yelled.

"You decided how you hold your lessons, I decided how I do mine! the man sneered.

Dumbledore looked sharply at him.

Amelia stood up "I think not, Severus Snape. We do not have The Board just for the sake of it. Each year has an approved program for their course. You have no right to change it just because you decide to throw a temper tantrum!"

Snape kept his mouth shut. Amelia was not someone who played games.

"The stomach of a goat, sir".

Minerva looked in awe at her student.

 

"Seems like you wanted to show off, eh, Potter?"

"Now. listen here, Snivellus, you can hate myself and James how much you bloody want. Believe me the feeling is mutual, but don't you dare to bully my godchild for it!" shouted Sirius, outraged at Snape.

The Court all looked at the two man, eyebrows raised.

"I beg you pardon, sir?" asked Zabini 

"Mister Black,sir, sorry, but do you mean to tell us, that our Head of the House, a grown man was bulling...eleven years old girl..all because he has grudge against her father and godfather?" Adrian was white, his eyes narrowed and not leaving Severus's face, fits clenched.

Nott, Higgs and Devis were looking at him repulsive.

"Yes,that is exactly what I am saying. Back in my time..James and I, we didn't like Snape, no, we hated him. It was more than mutual. I don't say we were pleasant to him, far from it. There was a thing you will learn..the thing I did that I regreted. However, Severus wasn't particularly innocent either. We tried to curse each other any opportunity we got. He was the first to try a nasty spell. But it was US. Cassiopeia wasn't even born".

"That is just pathetic." spat Warrington.

"Professor (sneered ) Pucey, I don't think you understand. James Potter is no longer here. Cassiopeia didn't even know him in order to learn something from her father, or to be like him. Either way, whatever happened between you has absolutely nothing to do with the entire Gryffindor house. It makes me sick". Adrian couldn't control his face, he was ready to curse Snape himself.

Tha little respect he had in his house..it was flying out of the window.

Lily continued reading, without given her Professor time to respond. Clear sign that no his words, neither opinion were matter to the Court any longer.

Cassiopeia forced herself to keep looking straight into those cold eyes.

She had looked through her books at the Dursleys', but did Snape expect her to remember everything in One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi ?

"No, he just wanted to humiliate you, to satisfy his own ago"..Higgs said coldly.

Snape was still ignoring Hermione's quivering hand.

Hermione sighed. She hated it when he did so.

MacGonagall was clenching her wand tightly. 

"Severus, you and I are going to have a little chat.." she practically growled.  Non-Gryffinsdor students understood why she was called "Mamma-lion. it wasn't for the sake of House alone..that growl.."

"What is the difference, Potter, between monkshood and wolfsbane?"

"That's a trick question!" Madam Pomfrey scowled.

At this, Hermione stood up, her hand stretching toward the dungeon ceiling.

"There is no difference, but you are not interesting in my answers, are you?," said Cassiopeia quietly, but in a way which make one shivers. "I think Hermione does, though, why don't you try her?"

Professor Flitwick laughed. "Definitely Lily's cheek, dear."

Adrian looked amused at Cassiopeia.

" Good one.."he said.

"Thank you, Pucey". Cassiopeia murmured, fighting blush.

Sirius, who noticed Adrian's slip of the tong, he called her Cassiopeia after all, did't like this new development at all..maybe he should pull "the Black family madness card soon"

A few people laughed; Cassi caught Seamus's eye, and Seamus winked.

Said boy did it agin. 

Adrian scowled, his good mood dying.

Snape, however, was not pleased.

"When he ever..?" yelled George 

"Honestly, brother mine, I would be worry if Snape was PLEASED...nothing good.."

"WEASLEY! I am right here,you know?" said Professor said, irritated

Fred and George gave him a look which said "Duh..so?"

"Sit down," he snapped at Hermione. " I will be taking five point from you,Potter, for being know-it-all"!

The Hall was silent. All witches and wizards alike were giving the man a look of disbelief.

"Did..did you just take points from MY House because..Cassiopeia KNEW the answers" Minerva's voice was deadly.

Albus sigh heavily. "Severus, I am afraid we will be having a talk. I can not allow you to continue like that". Headmaster's tone was so disappointed, that Snape couldn't stop a grimace.

"Why he always gets me..why doesn't he just shouts,,no, he looks like i killed his puppy.." the Potion Master thought.

There was a sudden rummaging for quills and parchment. Over the noise, Snape said, "And another point will be taken from Gryffindor House for your cheek, Potter."

Things didn't improve for the Gryffindors as the Potions lesson continued. Snape put them all into pairs and set them to mixing up a simple potion to cure boils. He swept around in his long black cloak, watching them weigh dried nettles and crush snake fangs, criticizing almost everyone except Malfoy, whom he seemed to like.

Many of the staff's eyes narrowed at Snape.

"Of course he does, Draco is his godson." sneered Nott

Snape tried to hide his hurt. Snakes weren't even acknowledging him.

He was just telling everyone to look at the perfect way Malfoy had stewed his horned slugs

"Yeah..because you didn't teach him before, right"..Remus asked with sarcasm.

when clouds of acid green smoke and a loud hissing filled the dungeon. Neville had somehow managed to melt Seamus's cauldron into a twisted blob, and their potion was seeping across the stone floor, burning holes in people's shoes. Within seconds, the whole class was standing on their stools while Neville, who had been drenched in the potion when the cauldron collapsed, moaned in pain as angry red boils sprang up all over his arms and legs.

"Idiot boy!"

"SEVERUS!" Professor McGonagall shouted,  overwhelmed.

snarled Snape, clearing the spilled potion away with one wave of his wand. "I suppose you added the porcupine quills before taking the cauldron off the fire?"

Neville whimpered as boils started to pop up all over his nose.

"Take him up to the hospital wing," Snape spat at Seamus. Then he rounded on Cassiopeia and Ron, who had been working next to Neville.

"You — Potter — why didn't you tell him not to add the quills?

"Because she was looking after her own potions, no?" Adrian's temper was rising.

Cassiopeia leaned a bit closer and whispered gently  "It is all right, you know. We survived him. But thank you"

They both smiled at each other,missing Dumbledore twinkle and scowl of her brothers, Sirius and Remus.

Thought he'd make you look good if he got it wrong, did you? That's another point you've lost for Gryffindor."

"Disgusting.." muttered Ernie 

This was so unfair that Cassi opened his mouth to argue,

"Your badger nature coming in"..cooed Professor Sprout.

but Ron kicked her behind their cauldron.

"Don't push it," he muttered, "I've heard Snape can turn very nasty."

"So true." murmured students 

As they climbed the steps out of the dungeon an hour later, Cassiopeia's mind was racing and her spirits were low. She'd lost two points for Gryffindor in her very first week

"Not the last time, definitely not." Cassi snorted, looking at her friends.

"Hey, Mione, do you think we could write down how many rules we broke on the parchment..for each year?"she asked with mischief in her eyes.

Ron smirked.

Hermione nodded eagerly. "Right on it! I am rather curious myself"

why did Snape hate her so much?

"Inability to grow up?" proposed Parvati 

"Cheer up," said Ron, "Snape's always taking points off Fred and George. Can I come and meet Hagrid with you?"

At five to three they left the castle and made their way across the grounds. Hagrid lived in a small wooden house on the edge of the forbidden forest. A crossbow and a pair of galoshes were outside the front door.

When Cass knocked they heard a frantic scrabbling from inside and several booming barks. Then Hagrid's voice rang out, saying, " Back , Fang — back ."

The trio smiled fondly.

Hagrid's big, hairy face appeared in the crack as he pulled the door open.

"Hang on," he said. "Back, Fang."

He let them in, struggling to keep a hold on the collar of an enormous black boarhound.

There was only one room inside. Hams and pheasants were hanging from the ceiling, a copper kettle was boiling on the open fire, and in the corner stood a massive bed with a patchwork quilt over it.

"Make yerselves at home," said Hagrid, letting go of Fang, who bounded straight at Ron and started licking his ears. Like Hagrid, Fang was clearly not as fierce as he looked.

"Nah..he doesn't have a cute name. You have to worried for those with sweet names".Sirius advised everyone 

"If this is not the truth" ..mouthed Ron, thinking about the damn dog.

Hagrid chuckled. 

"This is Ron," Cassiopeia told Hagrid, who was pouring boiling water into a large teapot and putting rock cakes onto a plate.

"Another Weasley, eh?" said Hagrid, glancing at Ron's freckles.

"I spent half me life chasin' yer twin brothers away from the forest."

The twins looked proud.

Molly huffed, honestly..those two!!

The rock cakes were shapeless lumps with raisins that almost broke their teeth, but Cassi and Ron pretended to be enjoying them as they told Hagrid all about their first lessons.

"Oh, you two …so sweet" Molly approved 

Her other children rolled they eyes. That was how their mother worked..

Fang rested his head on Cassi's knee and drooled all over her robes.

Many girls cringed.

Cassiopeia and Ron were delighted to hear Hagrid call Filch "that old git."

Filch, who finally joined the reading, shot Hagrid a nasty look.

"An' as fer that cat, Mrs. Norris, I'd like ter introduce her to Fang sometime. D'yeh know, every time I go up ter the school, she follows me everywhere? Can't get rid of her — Filch puts her up to it."

Cassiopeia told Hagrid about Snape's lesson. Hagrid, like Ron, told her not to worry about it, that Snape liked hardly any of the students.

"Twenty points to you, Hagrid"..muttered Justin 

"But he seemed to really hate me."

"Rubbish!" said Hagrid. "Why should he?"

Yet Cassiopeia couldn't help thinking that Hagrid didn't quite meet her eyes when he said that.

Hagrid sighed. "The girl noticed everything. Just like old Headmaster.

"How's yer brother Charlie?" Hagrid asked Ron. "I liked him a lot — great with animals."

Remus chuckled. "Real subtle subject change."

Cassi wondered if Hagrid had changed the subject on purpose.

Remus laughed this time "I told you so.."

While Ron told Hagrid all about Charlie's work with dragons, Cassiopeia picked up a piece of paper that was lying on the table under the tea cozy. It was a cutting from the Daily Prophet :

GRINGOTTS BREAK-IN LATEST

Investigations continue into the break-in at Gringotts on 31 July, widely believed to be the work of Dark wizards or witches unknown. Gringotts goblins today insisted that nothing had been taken. The vault that was searched had in fact been emptied the same day.

"But we're not telling you what was in there, so keep your noses out if you know what's good for you," said a Gringotts spokesgoblin this afternoon.

The teachers groaned.

"Oh, Hagrid..she won't rest until she finds out" shook her head Professor Vector 

"She wouldn't be Black-Potter if she didn't tried.." Minerva agreed tiredly 

Cassi remembered Ron telling her on the train that someone had tried to rob Gringotts, but Ron hadn't mentioned the date.

"Hagrid!" said Cassi, "that Gringotts break-in happened on my birthday! It might've been happening while we were there!"

There was no doubt about it, Hagrid definitely didn't meet Cassi's eyes this time. He grunted and offered her another rock cake. Cassiopeia read the story again. The vault that was searched had in fact been emptied earlier that same day. Hagrid had emptied vault seven hundred and thirteen, if you could call it emptying, taking out that grubby little package. Had that been what the thieves were looking for?

"Good memory!" yelled Moody

As Cassiopeia and Ron walked back to the castle for dinner, their pockets weighed down with rock cakes they'd been too polite to refuse,

Cassiopeia thought that none of the lessons she'd had so far had given her as much to think about as tea with Hagrid. Had Hagrid collected that package just in time? Where was it now? And did Hagrid know something about Snape that he didn't want to tell her?

"Those are fair questions, very good observation skills" complimented her Roger Davies, the current Head Boy

"I am done with the chapter. Who wants to read?" Lyly announced.

Seamus raised his hand. 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Chapter 11.

 

                                                                        "The Midnight Duel," Seamus read with slight excitement in his voice

 

MacGonagall raised her eyebrows 

"A duel? Do tell." she said sternly

Ron and Cassiopeia gave their best innocent smiles. Judging by her face Minerva didn't buy it.

Cassiopeia had never believed she would meet a boy she hated more than Dudley, but that was before she met Draco Malfoy.

Ron gave her a thumb up.

Still, first-year Gryffindors only had Potions with the Slytherins, so they didn't have to put up with Malfoy much.

"That was a good thing." Dean chattered.

Or at least, they didn't until they spotted a notice pinned up in the Gryffindor common room that made them all groan. Flying lessons would be starting on Thursday

"But you adore flying..?" said Collin

and Gryffindor and Slytherin would be learning together.

"Oh…never mind"..he got the pieces together now.

"Typical," said Cassi darkly. "Just what I always wanted. To make a fool of myself on a broomstick in front of Malfoy."

 Gryffindors started to laugh hysterically. 

"If anyone made a fool...it certainly wasn't you"..Angelina said smiling 

She had been looking forward to learning to fly more than anything else.

"Thats our girl"..Sirius approved 

"You don't know that you'll make a fool of yourself," said Ron reasonably. "Anyway, I know Malfoy's always going on about how good he is at Quidditch, but I bet that's all talk."

"You were right, Weasley"..Higgs muttered darkly. Malfoy stole his spot, well bought more like it.

Malfoy certainly did talk about flying a lot. He complained loudly about first years never getting on the house Quidditch teams and told long, boastful stories that always seemed to end with him narrowly escaping Muggles in helicopters.

"Really? Do you even know what it is?" asked a Hufflepuff muggle born.

He wasn't the only one, though: the way Seamus Finnigan told it, he'd spent most of his childhood zooming around the countryside on his broomstick. Even Ron would tell anyone who'd listen about the time he'd almost hit a hang glider on Charlie's old broom. Everyone from wizarding families talked about Quidditch constantly.

Charlie glared at his younger brother.

Ron had already had a big argument with Dean Thomas, who shared their dormitory, about soccer. Ron couldn't see what was exciting about a game with only one ball where no one was allowed to fly.

Cassiopeia had caught Ron prodding Dean's poster of West Ham soccer team, trying to make the players move.

Hermione and Dean laughed.

Purebloods still looked confused. How can they stay still? What was the point?

Neville had never been on a broomstick in his life, because his grandmother had never let him near one. Privately, Cassi felt she'd had good reason, because Neville managed to have an extraordinary number of accidents even with both feet on the ground.

"Sorry, Nev"..Cassi murmured 

"Nothing to be sorry for. I know it is the truth.." the guy said 

Hermione Granger was almost as nervous about flying as Neville was.

Hermione cringed, remembering their third year. " I really don't like flying"

This was something you couldn't learn by heart out of a book —

"Remus would agree with you" Sirius grinned 

not that she hadn't tried. At breakfast on Thursday she bored them all stupid with flying tips she'd gotten out of a library book called Quidditch Through the Ages .

"Yeah..you manage to bored us with one of the best book" Ron agreed with their past selves

Hermione scowled. "Honestly, Ronald. You should try to read more, there are so many..."

Before Mione could start on them, Ron muttered desperatly to Seamus "Please...hurry up.."

Neville was hanging on to her every word, desperate for anything that might help him hang on to his broomstick later, but everybody else was very pleased when Hermione's lecture was interrupted by the arrival of the mail.

No-one wanted to meet her eyes. 

Cassi hadn't had a single letter since Hagrid's note, something that Malfoy had been quick to notice, of course.

"No surprise, he practically stalked you.."  Theo Nott informed her.

Ron looked scandalised.

Cassiopeia looked grim

Malfoy's eagle owl was always bringing him packages of sweets from home, which he opened gloatingly at the Slytherin table.

A barn owl brought Neville a small package from his grandmother. He opened it excitedly and showed them a glass ball the size of a large marble, which seemed to be full of white smoke.

"That's a Remebrall!"  Tonks exclaimed 

"You would know, Nymphadora, wouldn't you?" her mother muttered. She loved her daughter more than anything. But dear Circe was she a walking disaster.

"It's a Remembrall!" he explained. "Gran knows I forget things — this tells you if there's something you've forgotten to do. Look, you hold it tight like this and if it turns red — oh…" His face fell, because the Remembrall had suddenly glowed scarlet, "… you've forgotten something…"

"But you never know what you have forgotten! So they are kind of useless" Cassiopeia frowned lightly.

Neville was trying to remember what he'd forgotten when Draco Malfoy, who was passing the Gryffindor table, snatched the Remembrall out of his hand.

"But of course.." Justin huffed.

"Mate, this is Malfoy we are talking about..nothing should surprise you. The guy is a bully." Ernie addressed his best friend 

Malfoy tried to ignore them. No need to make it harder than it was.  

Cassiopeia and Ron jumped to their feet. They were half hoping for a reason to fight Malfoy,

Everyone snickered.

"Thank you, guys" Neville smiled, blushing 

"Honestly, Nev, stop it. Thats what family and friends do" Cassiopeia said, voice warm, her eyes soft.

Adrian tried not to stare it her in awe. He so liked this soft, open and happy part of her. He so wanted to be included in this little group of lucky people.

but Professor McGonagall, who could spot trouble quicker than any teacher in the school, was there in a flash.

"You can thank you father, godfather and honorary uncle for that. Those three gave me the biggest run for my money. MacGonagall said to Cassiopeia.

"What about us, Professor.." shouted Fred, looking fake shocked

"How could you forget about us. Thats so hurts" yelled his brother

Molly Weasley was reaching her breaking point. Her sons usual childish behaviour, uncontrollable Sirius Black, who was a teenage boy himself. And if that wasn't enough, she suspected that her youngest son and his friends were getting in much more trouble than she knew!

"What's going on?"

"Malfoy's got my Remembrall, Professor."

Scowling, Malfoy quickly dropped the Remembrall back on the table.

"Just looking," he said,

"I hate to break it to you, Malfoy, but you look with your eyes, not your hands". Adrian commented, annoyed.

and he sloped away with Crabbe and Goyle behind him.

"I don't slope" Malfoy muttered..

"You sure do!" Ron almost yelled. 

At three-thirty that afternoon, Cassiopeia, Ron, and the other Gryffindors hurried down the front steps onto the grounds for their first flying lesson. It was a clear, breezy day, and the grass rippled under their feet as they marched down the sloping lawns toward a smooth, flat lawn on the opposite side of the grounds to the forbidden forest, whose trees were swaying darkly in the distance.

"Perfect..perfect flying condidtions" Wood was muttering, dreamy smile on his face.

The team was drooling

"Flying..freedom..loooooveee" Cassiopeia moaned.

Adrian was looking amused. "I should ask her to fly...Yes, a friendly flying. Nothing out of the ordinary.."

The Slytherins were already there, and so were twenty broomsticks lying in neat lines on the ground. Cassiopeia had heard Fred and George Weasley complain about the school brooms, saying that some of them started to vibrate if you flew too high, or always flew slightly to the left.

Their teacher, Madam Hooch, arrived. She had short, gray hair, and yellow eyes like a hawk.

Madam Hooch smiled.

"Well, what are you all waiting for?" she barked. "Everyone stand by a broomstick. Come on, hurry up."

Cassiopeia glanced down at her broom. It was old and some of the twigs stuck out at odd angles.

"We were right!" the twins shouted.

"Albus...we do need new brooms"..Madam Hooch sighed

"I will see what can be done.." said Dumbledore

"Stick out your right hand over your broom," called Madam Hooch at the front, "and say 'Up!'"

"UP" everyone shouted.

Cassi's broom jumped into her hand at once, but it was one of the few that did.

Ron clapped her on the back.

Wood was looking like a little kid. He jumped on his feet "That's MY seeker!! The best of the best...absolutely amazing...and.."

"OLIVER! We all understood" shouted Katie

Hermione Granger's had simply rolled over on the ground, and Neville's hadn't moved at all. Perhaps brooms, like horses, could tell when you were afraid, thought Cassiopeia;

Dumbledore chuckled "Some very interesting theory you had, my girl"

there was a quaver in Neville's voice that said only too clearly that he wanted to keep his feet on the ground.

"I really did. I really do" mumbled said boy

Madam Hooch then showed them how to mount their brooms without sliding off the end, and walked up and down the rows correcting their grips. Cassi and Ron were delighted when she told Malfoy he'd been doing it wrong for years.

Malfoy scowled and turned his head, cheeks pink.

"Now, when I blow my whistle, you kick off from the ground, hard," said Madam Hooch. "Keep your brooms steady, rise a few feet, and then come straight back down by leaning forward slightly. On my whistle — three — two —"

Neville went red. 

Cassiopeia took his hand gently. Ron and Hermione were sending their best glares to anyone who dared to laugh.

But Neville, nervous and jumpy and frightened of being left on the ground, pushed off hard before the whistle had touched Madam Hooch's lips

Everyone glanced but no word was spoken. Pissed off Golden Trio..noone wanted to deal with that.

"Come back, boy!" she shouted, but Neville was rising straight up like a cork shot out of a bottle — twelve feet — twenty feet. Cassiopeia saw his scared white face look down at the ground falling away, saw him gasp, slip sideways off the broom and —

WHAM — a thud and a nasty crack and Neville lay facedown on the grass in a heap.

"Were you alright, dear?" Molly's asked in a worried voice

"Yeah, it was fine, Missis Weasley" the boys smiled gratefully 

His broomstick was still rising higher and higher, and started to drift lazily toward the forbidden forest and out of sight.

Madam Hooch was bending over Neville, her face as white as his.

"Of course I was white! I didn't want anything bad to happen to my student" she explained 

"Broken wrist," Cassiopeia heard her mutter. "Come on, boy — it's all right, up you get."

She turned to the rest of the class.

"None of you is to move while I take this boy to the hospital wing! You leave those brooms where they are or you'll be out of Hogwarts before you can say 'Quidditch.'

"Empty threat " sang George 

Come on, dear."

Neville, his face tear-streaked, clutching his wrist, hobbled off with Madam Hooch, who had her arm around him.

No sooner were they out of earshot than Malfoy burst into laughter.

Cassiopeia glared at Malfoy with so much anger that Malfoy looked a little startled.

"Did you see his face, the great lump?"

"I'm going to punch  him one of these days" muttered Ron

The other Slytherins joined in.

Now they had a dignity to look embarrassed 

"Shut up, Malfoy," snapped Parvati Patil.

"Ooh, sticking up for Longbottom?" said Pansy Parkinson, a hard-faced Slytherin girl. "Never thought you'd like fat little crybabies, Parvati."

Parvati shot a mean look at the girl. "Says the drama queen"

"Look!" said Malfoy, darting forward and snatching something out of the grass. "It's that stupid thing Longbottom's gran sent him."

Snape shot his godson a hard look. Draco was behaving like a brat. Was it true, was he really that blind?

The Remembrall glittered in the sun as he held it up.

"Give that here, Malfoy," said Cassiopeia quietly.

"Never a good sign.." muttered Ron

"Agreed, it is better when she is shouting" Hermione confirmed.

"Speak for yourself, her shouting can awake the dead.." Fred said, remembering the summer of the last year.

The Hall looked confused..

"Mmm, not to pray or anything,,,but could you possible elaborate ..?" Zabini asked confused.

"Well, Cass has an angry mood stages. Stage one -she is shouting so loudly, that you wish you were deaf, you wanna just be small and invisible. But the stage pass's soon and she let it go easy enough. I mean it is not a life treating or completely dangerous. Only half dangerous", Ron said nervously.

Hermine was nooding her head. "And there is stage two..When she is quit, it seems like she is calm. But ohh...dont you buy it. If you look close enough..you see her eyes narrowing, there is a dangerous shine...the green is not emerald, but the colour of the killing curse. Her voice may be a whisper,...but dear Merlin, you would hear it even if you are at the other end of the room. She is icy.cold, her magic is breaking wild and free. It is like the Goddess of death herself came for you"

The twins nodded, seriously.

"If you ever manage to make her like that..well, good riddance to you, mates." Fred muttered

Students were silent, afraid to speak. 

Fudge was pale, he almost got her like that, twice. Her third year, when her godfather was almost kissed. And the disaster named "year five". He was shaking, wishing to disappear from the school.

"Hmm..em, it seems like you saw Cassi like this...em, was it one of you..?" Ernie tried to ask, but too afraid to finish. Seems like he was lucky she didn't hold their second year against him.

Nevill looked at him, slight smirk playing on his lips.."Oh yeah, we saw her like that, alright. But it was not against us." he said with the cold satisfaction

Sweet, shy and kind Neville? What the hell?

Lily Moon's eyes were wide open, realization was brought down to her.

"Mmm, was it the person I think it was.." she asked timidly. She heard the rumours, okey? Her parents, cousins, her brother and family members, all supporters of the Dark Lord. No matter how hard they tried to show their disrespect, superiority to Cassiopeia Potter, they were afraid of the girl. And..and if the rumours were true,,they had a good reason. 

"If you think about bat shit crazy Bellatrix..then yes, it was her".. Cassiopeia answered, with so much coldness, hate, her soft face changing, eyes dangerous.

Shiver went down the spins of every person in the Hall.

Draco didn't dare to comment. Didn't dare to say a word. He saw his ant..she was almost destroyed. Still couldn't be back in a shape. The Healers couldn't help. Even their Lord couldn't.  No-one talked about it. The young ones didn't know who has done it. It was like the -Death eaters were scared to say the name as much as their were scared to anger they Lord.

..And now Draco knew why. Cassiopeia Potter, age fifteen...has done it. She almost broke his ant into peaces, almost destroyed her magic core and drove her totally insane. And she would to it again, if her face was any indictions.

Snape,who never believed the girl to be anything, but ordinary looked puzzled. He saw the insane bitch after the Ministry. The Dark Lord order him to brew the rarest and strongest potions. Of course, after he Crucio him rounds.

Nothing has worked so far. He bit his tongue...he wouldn't want to be on receiving end of such a power. For the first time in sixteen years, Severus started to doubt his opinion on the Potter girl. He needs to keep a close eye on her. And speak to Draco... 

Everyone stopped talking to watch.

Malfoy smiled nastily.

"Can he smile differently..." asked still Collin. It seems he wasn't afraid or surprised much. If anything..the guy was excited. 

"I think I'll leave it somewhere for Longbottom to find — how about — up a tree?"

"Give it here!" Cassi yelled, but Malfoy had leapt onto his broomstick and taken off.

"Mr. Malfoy!" Madame Hooch exclaimed. "And here I thought Cassiopeia was the only one who broke my rule.

Severus gave a glare to Draco. He told that the Potter girl was the one who provoked him. She was the one who was trying to show off.

 By the Salazar, he was doomed...

 

He hadn't been lying, he could fly well.

Malfoy was smiling proudly. At least the bitch admitted it..

"Well, he was, but so are many others. Nothing on Higgs though.." Cassiopeia answered simply.

Higgs went pink, but was pleased. It wasn't every day THE Cassiopeia Potter complimented your ability to fly.

"Oh...yeah, I remember Cassi complained so much after Higgs was replaced. Malfoy didn't give her enough challenge." Dean said chucking

Slytherins looked startled..

Noticing the questions in their eyes, Cassiopeia elaborated " Well, I love the game..I love the thrill. And Higgs gave it to me. He was fast, challenging. The game was unpredictable, like teasing in some ways. Malfoy..he isn't that good as a seeker, there is no adrenaline with him. He is simply following me, nothing extraordinary about it. He makes me booooored.. She looked annoyed.

Her team smiled fondly at her..

"Why is it you love danger so much..?" moaned Reamus.

"I blame the blood in me" she joked.

Adrian didn't comment, but look relived. She wasn't into Terrence, she just saw him as a good competition. 

Hovering level with the topmost branches of an oak he called, "Come and get it, Potter!"

Ron smiled happily. "Thats gonna be soon good"

"Ronald, it was very dangerous. She could hurt herself!" his mother was not pleased.

Cassiopeia grabbed her broom.

"No!" shouted Hermione Granger. "Madam Hooch told us not to move — you'll get us all into trouble."

Hermione shook her head. "I was so naive back then"

"I am so glad you did't care for that rule,Cassi!" Oliver yelled happily.

Cassiopeia ignored her. Blood was pounding in her ears. She mounted the broom and kicked hard against the ground and up, up she soared; air rushed through her hair, and her robes whipped out behind her — and in a rush of fierce joy she realized she'd found something she could do without being taught — this was easy, this was wonderful .

Cassiopeia had a dream look on face, mirrored by Oliver Wood. They looked like twins at that moment.

It was surprising but Minerva didn't comment on it. If anything, McGonagall looked proud, happy and...bloody hell, was her face as dreamy as theirs?

She pulled her broomstick up a little to take it even higher, and heard screams and gasps of girls back on the ground and an admiring whoop from Ron.

"Thank you, Ron. It made me feel better, brave in some ways."

Ron beamed at his best friend.

She turned her broomstick sharply to face Malfoy in midair. Malfoy looked stunned.

"You bet he was..the brat." snorted Nott.

"Give it here," Cassiopeia called, "or I'll knock you off that broom!"

"Thats my girl..that ma girl..." yelled Oliver.

The twins applauded.

"Oh, yeah?" said Malfoy, trying to sneer, but looking worried.

It was the time for the Slytherins to shake their heads. The idiot...

Cassi knew, somehow, what to do.

She leaned forward and grasped the broom tightly in both hands, and it shot toward Malfoy like a javelin. Malfoy only just got out of the way in time; Cassiopeia made a sharp about-face and held the broom steady. A few people below were clapping.

"No Crabbe and Goyle up here to save your neck, Malfoy," she called.

The same thought seemed to have struck Malfoy.

"Should have thought about it before he made an idiot out of himself" Tracey said, smirking. 

"Catch it if you can, then!" he shouted, and he threw the glass ball high into the air and streaked back toward the ground.

Cassi saw, as though in slow motion, the ball rise up in the air and then start to fall. She leaned forward and pointed her broom handle down — next second she was gathering speed in a steep dive, racing the ball — wind whistled in her ears, mingled with the screams of people watching — she stretched out her hand — a foot from the ground she caught it, just in time to pull her broom straight, and she toppled gently onto the grass with the Remembrall clutched safely in her fist.

"Wow. That was..  a school broom no less!" Remus couldn't stop himself

Sirius looked so impressed, he couldn't form a sentence. Yet, he didn't need to..his bright smile was all Cassi needed.

"CASSIOPEIA POTTER!"

"Run, bambi,,,run" Sirius shouted. 

Her heart sank faster than she'd just dived.

Hermione snickered.

Professor McGonagall was running toward them.

She got to her feet, trembling.

" pickle firstiiii" sang George

"Never in all my time at Hogwarts —"

Professor McGonagall was almost speechless with shock, and her glasses flashed furiously, "— how dare you — might have broken your neck —"

"It wasn't her fault, Professor —"

"Be quiet, Miss Patil —"

"Thanks, Parvati" Cassi smiled

"Dont mention it. Everything for a friend" the girl smiled back.

"But Malfoy —"

"That's enough, Mr. Weasley. Potter, follow me, now."

Cassiopeia caught sight of Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle's triumphant faces as she left, walking numbly in Professor McGonagall's wake as she strode toward the castle. She was going to be expelled, she just knew it.

"Yet your still here." Hermione tease.

"Ah...I was so young back then.." her friend laughed

She wanted to say something to defend herself, but there seemed to be something wrong with her voice. Professor McGonagall was sweeping along without even looking at her; she had to jog to keep up. Now she'd done it. She hadn't even lasted two weeks. She'd be packing her bags in ten minutes. What would the Dursleys say when she turned up on the doorstep?

"You wouldn't be expelled for something small as this, my dear girl" said Albus, smiling

The teachers looked amused. 

Snape tried not to sneer. "She wouldn't be expelled for something big ether" he muttered

"I don't think you are in position for any comments, Severus" glared at him Minerva

Up the front steps, up the marble staircase inside, and still Professor McGonagall didn't say a word to her.

" I am sorry, Cassiopeia. I didn't realise how it would seems to you. I just was so exited.." trailed her Professor

She wrenched open doors and marched along corridors with Cassiopeia trotting miserably behind her. Maybe she was taking her to Dumbledore..

"So he could give her some lemons drop.." muttered Minerva

"My dear Professor, why would you assume that Cassiopeia's love for the lemon drops came from me? he asked highly amused.

The Staff rolled their eyes. The girl got obsessed with it. She even started to offer it in the same manner as Dumbledore...where else could she get it?

She thought of Hagrid, expelled but allowed to stay on as gamekeeper. Perhaps she could be Hagrid's assistant. Her stomach twisted as she imagined it, watching Ron and the others becoming wizards, while she stumped around the grounds carrying Hagrid's bag.

People shook their heads

"You really are...a pessimist" Dean tried not to chuckle.

Seamus however didn't smile. He thought he understood the reason "why". Those damn relatives of hers. 

Professor McGonagall stopped outside a classroom. She opened the door and poked her head inside.

"Excuse me, Professor Flitwick, could I borrow Wood for a moment?"

Wood? thought Cassi, bewildered; was Wood a cane she was going to use on her?

Professor McGonagall's expression darkened. "I would never!!"

But Wood turned out to be a person, a burly fifth-year boy who came out of Flitwick's class looking confused.

" I so was...but as it turned out it was one of the biggest and best moments of my life." her Capitan exclaimed.

"Follow me, you two," said Professor McGonagall, and they marched on up the corridor, Wood looking curiously at Cassi

"In here."

Professor McGonagall pointed them into a classroom that was empty except for Peeves, who was busy writing rude words on the blackboard.

"Exactly how the news got around" smirked Justin

"Out, Peeves!" she barked. Peeves threw the chalk into a bin, which clanged loudly, and he swooped out cursing. Professor McGonagall slammed the door behind him and turned to face them.

"Potter, this is Oliver Wood. Wood — I've found you a Seeker."

"Yes! The best seeker..my joy...and..."

"OLIVER, WE KNOW!" yelled Angelina 

Wood's expression changed from puzzlement to delight.

The twins laughed.."You have no idea.."

"Are you serious, Professor?"

"No, I am Sirius!" Black shouted

Remus massaged his temple. "Really, really Pads?" 

"Absolutely," said Professor McGonagall crisply. "The girl's a natural. I've never seen anything like it. Was that your first time on a broomstick, Potter?"

Cassi nodded silently. She didn't have a clue what was going on, but she didn't seem to be being expelled, and some of the feeling started coming back to her legs.

"She caught that thing in her hand after a fifty-foot dive," Professor McGonagall told Wood. "Didn't even scratch herself. Charlie Weasley couldn't have done it."

The twins started laughing like mad. 

Charlie looked offended "Hey..."

"On a school broom, Char..really?" Bill raised an eyebrown 

Wood was now looking as though all his dreams had come true at once.

"Because they did!!" Oliver confirmed

The team chuckled. 

"Ever seen a game of Quidditch, Potter?" he asked excitedly.

"Wood's captain of the Gryffindor team," Professor McGonagall explained.

"She's just the build for a Seeker, too," said Wood, now walking around Cassi and staring at her. "Light —speedy — we'll have to get her a decent broom, Professor — a Nimbus Two Thousand or a Cleansweep Seven, I'd say."

"Nimbus two thousand, I missed that broom" Cassi whispered.

"I shall speak to Professor Dumbledore and see if we can't bend the first-year rule.

Hermione rolled her eyes. 

Heaven knows, we need a better team than last year. Flattened in that last match by Slytherin, I couldn't look Severus Snape in the face for weeks…"

Snape smirked happily.

Minerva glared dangerously.

Professor McGonagall peered sternly over her glasses at Cassiopeia.

"I want to hear you're training hard, Potter, or I may change my mind about punishing you."

Then she suddenly smiled.

"Your father would have been proud," she said. "He was an excellent Quidditch player himself."

"You're joking."

"He really was. Natural..." Minerva murmured 

"It was dinnertime. Cassi had just finished telling Ron what had happened when she'd left the grounds with Professor McGonagall. Ron had a piece of steak and kidney pie halfway to his mouth, but he'd forgotten all about it.

Ginny gasped. "Ron...?..Oh my..."

Her brother mock glared at her.

"Seeker?" he said. "But first years never you must be the youngest house player in about —"

"A century!" the trio finished, smiling at each other. 

" — a century," said Cassiopeia, shovelling pie into her mouth. She felt particularly hungry after the excitement of the afternoon. "Wood told me."

Ron was so amazed, so impressed, he just sat and gaped at her.

Ginny still couldn't believe it. Seems like her brothers couldn't either 

"I start training next week," said Cassi. "Only don't tell anyone, Wood wants to keep it a secret."

Terry grinned "Good luck with that"

"Nothing stays secret in this place" agreed Padma

The trio smirked.

"You will be surprise.." Hermione said, thinking about all their adventurous  

Fred and George Weasley now came into the hall, spotted Cassi, and hurried over.

"Well done," said George in a low voice. "Wood told us. We're on the team too — Beaters."

"The best!" announced Oliver

"I tell you, we're going to win that Quidditch cup for sure this year," said Fred. "We haven't won since Charlie left, but this year's team is going to be brilliant. You must be good, Cass, Wood was almost skipping when he told us."

Several people giggled

Wood didn't try to deny "I really was"

"Anyway, we've got to go, Lee Jordan reckons he's found a new secret passageway out of the school."

"Bet it's that one behind the statue of Gregory the Smarmy that we found in our first week. See you."

First week mouthed Professor McGonagall.

Sirius looked impress "It took us ten days"

The twins and Lee looked interested, but Minerva was fast to cut it " Do continue with the book, Mister Finnigan.

Fred and George had hardly disappeared when someone far less welcome turned up: Malfoy, flanked by Crabbe and Goyle.

"Having a last meal, Potter? When are you getting the train back to the Muggles?"

Tonks smirked "You wish"

"You're a lot braver now that you're back on the ground and you've got your little friends with you," said Cassi coolly.

Several people looked at her. 

"Smal...define big to me, please.." asked Hannah 

"Well...maybe twenty foot..." Ron started

Hermione smoked him "Don't spoil the second book!"

Nearly everyone wanted to hurry now. What was in the book number two?

Sirius and Remus looked at the Trio nervously.

There was of course nothing at all little about Crabbe and Goyle, but as the High Table was full of teachers, neither of them could do more than crack their knuckles and scowl.

"I'd take you on anytime on my own," said Malfoy. "Tonight, if you want. Wizard's duel. Wands only — no contact.

"Ahhh… The Midnight Duel." I get it now, said Professor Vector

Snape pressed his lips "Draco..you told me Potter was the one who asked you to.."

"Well, as it seems Severus, you should open your eyes and stop believing everything Mister Malfoys says" Professor Flitwick said sternly 

"That would be nice. Maybe then our house won't be the laughing stock anymore" agreed Adrian loudly 

Snape looked away. His snakes were angry, annoyed, displeased and offended...and feeling like a bunch of fools.Not a good mix in one day. 

What's the matter? Never heard of a wizard's duel before, I suppose?"

"She was raised by  Muggles, Malfoy. But you knew it, that was the point, wasn't it?" a seven year lion commented angrily 

"Of course she has," said Ron, wheeling around. "I'm her second, who's yours?"

"Ron! You shouldn't have done it" his mother yelled

"No, Missis Weasley, it wasn't his fault. I am glad he did it. I would look stupid and cowardly" Cassiopeia defined her friend.

"I must agree, Molly, Even if I didn't necessary like it" Mister Weasley muttered to his wife.

Ron was relived. 

Malfoy looked at Crabbe and Goyle, sizing them up.

"Of course..that would be difficult, no brains and all that.." Hermione said

Cassius laughed.

"Crabbe," he said. "Midnight all right? We'll meet you in the trophy room; that's always unlocked."

"Suuuuure" said annoyed Dean.

"Malfoy is a coward..so.." trailed Lavander

When Malfoy had gone, Ron and Cass looked at each other.

"What is a wizard's duel?" said Cassiopeia. "And what do you mean, you're my second?"

"Well, a second's there to take over if you die," said Ron casually, getting started at last on his cold pie.

"Nice and casual." Bill murmured.

Catching the look on Cassi's face, he added quickly, "But people only die in proper duels, you know, with real wizards. The most you and Malfoy'll be able to do is send sparks at each other. Neither of you knows enough magic to do any real damage. I bet he expected you to refuse, anyway."

" Kind of stupid things to expect from Cassi" chuckled Ginny

"And what if I wave my wand and nothing happens?"

"Throw it away and punch him on the nose," Ron suggested.

"It was a good suggestion, actually. In a real life, when you are on the battlefield no death eater scum follow the rules of a proper duel" Moody complimented him.

Ron felt his cheeks burning

"Excuse me."

They both looked up. It was Hermione Granger.

Gryffindors chuckled 

"And here we go.." snorted Ron

"Can't a person eat in peace in this place?" said Ron.

Tracey laughed, looking amused.

Hermione ignored him and spoke to Cassiopeia.

"What else is new?" joked Ginny 

"I couldn't help overhearing what you and Malfoy were saying —"

"Ohhh, I bet you could, but didn't want to" Tracey said, a tone of amusement still in her voice

"Bet you could," Ron muttered.

They both blushed lightly.

The twins snorted "Roniiiiii...you think like a sneakyyyy girl" they sing sang 

Tracey and Ron blushed harder

"— and you mustn't go wandering around the school at night, think of the points you'll lose Gryffindor if you're caught, and you're bound to be. It's really very selfish of you."

 

"And it's really none of your business," said Cassi.

"Good-bye," said Ron.

"Seriously, how are you friends.." asked Roger, confused 

All the same, it wasn't what you'd call the perfect end to the day, Cassi thought, as she lay awake much later listening to Padma and Lavander falling asleep.

Ron had spent all evening giving her advice such as "If he tries to curse you, you'd better dodge it, because I can't remember how to block them."

Lee snorted. "Great advice"

There was a very good chance they were going to get caught by Filch or Mrs. Norris, and Cass felt she was pushing her luck, breaking another school rule today. On the other hand, Malfoy's sneering face kept looming up out of the darkness — this was her big chance to beat Malfoy face-to-face. She couldn't miss it.

Remus rolled her eyes;. "James.."

"Half-past eleven," Ron muttered at last, "we'd better go."

They pulled on their bathrobes, picked up their wands, and crept across the tower room, down the spiral staircase, and into the Gryffindor common room. A few embers were still glowing in the fireplace, turning all the armchairs into hunched black shadows. They had almost reached the portrait hole when a voice spoke from the chair nearest them, "I can't believe you're going to do this, Cassiopeia ."

"Hermione of course" laughed Collin

A lamp flickered on. It was Hermione Granger, wearing a pink bathrobe and a frown.

"You!" said Ron furiously. "Go back to bed!"

"Aren't you polite" muttered Susan

"I almost told your brother," Hermione snapped, "Percy — he's a prefect, he'd put a stop to this."

"Thats low and you know it" muttered Fred

Percy looked down. Why they never trusted him? Well..actually seeng what he has done...no surprise 

Cass couldn't believe anyone could be so interfering.

 

"Come on," she said to Ron. She pushed open the portrait of the Fat Lady and climbed through the hole.

Hermione wasn't going to give up that easily. She followed Ron through the portrait hole, hissing at them like an angry goose.

"An angry goose?" Charlie said amused.

"Don't you care about Gryffindor, do you only care about yourselves, I don't want Slytherin to win the house cup, and you'll lose all the points I got from Professor McGonagall for knowing about Switching Spells."

"Go away."

"All right, but I warned you, you just remember what I said when you're on the train home tomorrow, you're so —"

But what they were, they didn't find out. Hermione had turned to the portrait of the Fat Lady to get back inside and found herself facing an empty painting. The Fat Lady had gone on a nighttime visit and Hermione was locked out of Gryffindor tower.

"She really likes to do it.." mumbled Remus

"You would know all about it, wouldn't you, Remus?" McGonagall asked in her disapproving voice

"Now what am I going to do?" she asked shrilly.

"Well, you could go along for the run..?" teased her Cassi

"That's your problem," said Ron. "We've got to go, we're going to be late."

They hadn't even reached the end of the corridor when Hermione caught up with them.

All the Gryffindors grinned.

"I'm coming with you," she said.

"You are not."

Hermione scoffed. 

"D'you think I'm going to stand out here and wait for Filch to catch me? If he finds all three of us I'll tell him the truth, that I was trying to stop you, and you can back me up."

"Yelp,,,like he would care.." muttered a seven year Gryffindor

"You've got some nerve —" said Ron loudly.

"DUH!" someone shouted.

"Shut up, both of you!"

said Cassi sharply. "I heard something."

"The bloody cat?" asked Anthony 

It was a sort of snuffling.

"Mrs. Norris?" breathed Ron, squinting through the dark.

It wasn't Mrs. Norris. It was Neville. He was curled up on the floor, fast asleep, but jerked suddenly awake as they crept nearer.

Neville  chuckled.

"Thank goodness you found me! I've been out here for hours, I couldn't remember the new password to get in to bed."

The Gryffindors started to chuckle with Neville.

"You are so much like your mother, Neville. She had the worst memory ever." Sirius said smiling sadly

Neville however, grinned happily and beaned at Black. His Gran mostly spoke about his father and how great and perfect he was. Neville was glad to hear something about the person his mother was, or his father for that matter, and not the perfect image.

"Keep your voice down, Neville. The password's 'Pig snout' but it won't help you now, the Fat Lady's gone off somewhere."

"How convenient." muttered one of Ginny's friends, Rebecca

"How's your arm?" said Cassi.

The twins tried to make the best impression of their mother, they clapped their hands and exclaimed "Oh dear, how polite" fake crying 

"Fine," said Neville, showing them. "Madam Pomfrey mended it in about a minute."

"Good — well, look, Neville, we've got to be somewhere, we'll see you later —"

"Yeah, sorry Nev, they have some rules to break" George approved

"Don't leave me!" said Neville, scrambling to his feet, "I don't want to stay here alone, the Bloody Baron's been past twice already."

Several people shivered. 

"He would never hurt you, Nev" Cassi assured him

Ron looked at his watch and then glared furiously at Hermione and Neville.

"If either of you get us caught, I'll never rest until I've learned that Curse of the Bogies Quirrell told us about, and used it on you."

Hermione opened her mouth, perhaps to tell Ron exactly how to use the Curse of the Bogies,

 

but Cass hissed at her to be quiet and beckoned them all forward.

"Wonder whats going to happen" Collin said excitedly.

They flitted along corridors striped with bars of moonlight from the high windows. At every turn Cassiopeia expected to run into Filch or Mrs. Norris, but they were lucky.

"I wouldn't call it luck..." Neville shivered 

They sped up a staircase to the third floor and tiptoed toward the trophy room.

"The third floor…" a Ravenclaw started to whisper.

The Staff looked worried..

Malfoy and Crabbe weren't there yet.

"Duh, of course. That would actually mean that Malfoy cared for his own word!" a Slytherin shouted.

The crystal trophy cases glimmered where the moonlight caught them. Cups, shields, plates, and statues winked silver and gold in the darkness. They edged along the walls, keeping their eyes on the doors at either end of the room. Cassi took out her wand in case Malfoy leapt in and started at once.

The minutes crept by.

"He's late, maybe he's chickened out," Ron whispered.

Then a noise in the next room made them jump. Cass had only just raised her wand when they heard someone speak — and it wasn't Malfoy.

"Sniff around, my sweet, they might be lurking in a corner."

"Noooo, its the devil himself" yelled a third year Hufflepuff

It was Filch speaking to Mrs. Norris. Horror-struck, Cassiopeia waved madly at the other three to follow her as quickly as possible; they scurried silently toward the door, away from Filch's voice. Neville's robes had barely whipped round the corner when they heard Filch enter the trophy room.

"They're in here somewhere," they heard him mutter, "probably hiding."

"This way!" Cassi mouthed to the others and, petrified,

 

they began to creep down a long gallery full of suits of armor. They could hear Filch getting nearer. Neville suddenly let out a frightened squeak and broke into a run he tripped, grabbed Ron around the waist, and the pair of them toppled right into a suit of armor.

Malfoy burst into laughter. 

Cassius gave him a warning look.

The clanging and crashing were enough to wake the whole castle.

"Not exactly,no." Ernie said.

"RUN!" Cassi yelled, and the four of them sprinted down the gallery, not looking back to see whether Filch was following — they swung around the doorpost and galloped down one corridor then another, Cassi in the lead,

without any idea where they were or where they were going — they ripped through a tapestry and found themselves in a hidden passageway, hurtled along it and came out near their Charms classroom, which they knew was miles from the trophy room.

"I think we've lost him," Cass panted, leaning against the cold wall and wiping her forehead.

"I don't think it was that easy..was it?" Parvati asked worriedly 

Neville was bent double, wheezing and spluttering.

"I —told you," Hermione gasped, clutching at the stitch in her chest, "I — told — you."

"Not the right time, Granger" smirked Cassius, but it was not an unpleasant one.

Hermione smiled "Yes. I know that now. Back then I was a bit obsessed with the rules"

" A bit.. she says.." Ron muttered sarcastically 

"We've got to get back to Gryffindor tower," said Ron, "quickly as possible."

"Not going to happen..unfortunately" Neville murmured

"Malfoy tricked you," Hermione said to Cass. "You realize that, don't you? He was never going to meet you — Filch knew someone was going to be in the trophy room, Malfoy must have tipped him off."

Cassiopeia thought she was probably right, but he wasn't going to tell her that.

Hermione started to chuckle.

"I think it was good, that you didn't" Ron agreed

"And what do you want to say with it?" Hermione glared at him 

"Nothing, nothing" he almost jumped 

"Let's go."

It wasn't going to be that simple. They hadn't gone more than a dozen paces when a doorknob rattled and something came shooting out of a classroom in front of them.

It was Peeves.

He caught sight of them and gave a squeal of delight.

Fred and George groaned " Shit luck"

Cassi smirked "Oh, I wouldn't say that.."

"Shut up, Peeves — please — you'll get us thrown out."

Peeves cackled.

"Wandering around at midnight, Ickle Firsties? Tut, tut, tut. Naughty, naughty, you'll get caughty."

"Not if you don't give us away, Peeves, please."

"Should tell Filch, I should," said Peeves in a saintly voice, but his eyes glittered wickedly. "It's for your own good, you know."

"Get out of the way," snapped Ron, taking a swipe at Peeves this was a big mistake.

"Huge mistake." The twins told 

"Peeves, I will case troubles and pranks in your name if you hold him up" Cassiopeia smirked with mischief. Peeves looked even happier. 

"STUDENTS OUT OF BED!" Peeves bellowed, "STUDENTS OUT OF BED DOWN THE CHARMS CORRIDOR!"

"But I thought he would help you.." Lavender was confused

"Oh, he did.." grinned Ron

Everyone just giggle

Filch glared angrily 

Ducking under Peeves, they ran for their lives, right to the end of the corridor where they slammed into a door — and it was locked.

"This is it!" Ron moaned, as they pushed helplessly at the door, "We're done for! This is the end!"

They could hear footsteps, Filch running as fast as he could toward Peeves's shouts.

"Oh, move over," Hermione snarled.

Everyone grinned. 

She grabbed Cass's wand, tapped the lock, and whispered, " Alohomora !"

"Useful little spell." Ron whispered 

The lock clicked and the door swung open — they piled through it, shut it quickly, and pressed their ears against it, listening.

"Which way did they go, Peeves?" Filch was saying. "Quick, tell me."

"Say 'please.'"

"I get it now. He won't tell" Fred grinned

"How do you know that?" asked Katie 

Fred just smiled and signal Seamus to keep reading 

"Don't mess with me, Peeves, now where did they go?"

"Shan't say nothing if you don't say please," said Peeves in his annoying singsong voice.

"All right —please."

"NOTHING! Ha haaa! Told you I wouldn't say nothing if you didn't say please! Ha ha! Haaaaaa!"

The twins were laughing hysterically.

And they heard the sound of Peeves whooshing away and Filch cursing in rage.

"He thinks this door is locked," Cassi whispered. "I think we'll be okay — get off, Neville!"

"Well, well..little Neville..what were you trying to do'" George moved his eyebrows suggestively  

Both Neville and Cass looked a little green. "Aw..Oww...we are god siblings" Neville said

Cassiopeia nodded in approval 

Adrian let out a breath he didn't know he was holding.

For Neville had been tugging on the sleeve of her bathrobe for the last minute. " What ?"

Cassiopeia turned around — and saw, quite clearly, what. For a moment, she was sure she'd walked into a nightmare — this was too much, on top of everything that had happened so far.

The teachers were horrified with worry, all of them looking pale.

McGonaggall's lips almost disappeared 

They weren't in a room, as she had supposed. They were in a corridor. The forbidden corridor on the third floor. And now they knew why it was forbidden.

"What, why? WHY?" Molly was whispering, trembling with fear.

Everyone were leaning closer to the books in anticipation. 

They were looking straight into the eyes of a monstrous dog, a dog that filled the whole space between ceiling and floor. It had three heads. Three pairs of rolling, mad eyes; three noses, twitching and quivering in their direction; three drooling mouths, saliva hanging in slippery ropes from yellowish fangs.

"Sweet Merlin.." Amelia muttered 

"What was that...that thing doing in the school with children?!" Arthur exclaimed shocked.

It was standing quite still, all six eyes staring at them, and Cassiopeia knew that the only reason they weren't already dead was that their sudden appearance had taken it by surprise, but it was quickly getting over that, there was no mistaking what those thunderous growls meant.

Cassi groped for the doorknob — between Filch and death, she'd take Filch.

"Glad to know you have some sense and self preservation" Remus whispered, voice croaked

Sirius just crabbed her hand and was holding it so firm, almost painful. 

The Hall was looking at the four of them in horror. 

And Adrian wanted nothing more than to hold her other hand. His knuckles were white, lips thin and almost blue 

They fell backward — Cassiopeia slammed the door shut, and they ran, they almost flew, back down the corridor. Filch must have hurried off to look for them somewhere else, because they didn't see him anywhere, but they hardly cared — all they wanted to do was put as much space as possible between them and that monster. They didn't stop running until they reached the portrait of the Fat Lady on the seventh floor.

"Where on earth have you all been?" she asked, looking at their bathrobes hanging off their shoulders and their flushed, sweaty faces.

"She always ask..and no-one ever answers" tried to joke Fred. But you could see his eyes were on his brother and friends, checking if they were really here, unharmed.

"Never mind that — pig snout, pig snout," panted Cassi, and the portrait swung forward. They scrambled into the common room and collapsed, trembling, into armchairs.

It was a while before any of them said anything. Neville, indeed, looked as if he'd never speak again.

"It felt like it" they boy agreed 

"Cant blame you, mate" Dean whispered 

"What do they think they're doing, keeping a thing like that locked up in a school?" said Ron finally. "If any dog needs exercise, that one does."

"Really..I mean really, Ron?" asked George 

Hermione had got both her breath and her bad temper back again. "You don't use your eyes, any of you, do you?" she snapped. "Didn't you see what it was standing on?"

"I would say..the floor" Adrian found his voice

"The floor?" Cassi suggested.

The twins started to chuckle and Albus looked so pleased with himself for some reasons.

Neither Sirius no Remus were, however. They narrowed their eyes.

Especially they didn't like how they baby girl blushed and smiled at that bloody boy. 

"I wasn't looking at its feet, I was too busy with its heads."

More people chuckled.

"No, not the floor. It was standing on a trapdoor. It's obviously guarding something."

"Ohhh.." whispered Dennis

She stood up, glaring at them.

"I hope you're pleased with yourselves. We could all have been killed — or worse, expelled. Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to bed."

"Granger, with all do respect, and I really do respect you, but..what the bloody hell??" Cassius almost yelled.

"I didn't think like that anymore" Hermione was trying to hide her blushing face

"I would hope note, Miss Granger" exclaimed her Head of the House

Ron stared after her, his mouth open.

"Don't blame you here, really don't.." Charlie muttered

"No, we don't mind," he said. "You'd think we dragged her along, wouldn't you."

Many people sniggered 

But Hermione had given Cassi something else to think about as she climbed back into bed. The dog was guarding something… What had Hagrid said? Gringotts was the safest place in the world for something you wanted to hide — except perhaps Hogwarts.

Everyone gasped.

It looked as though Cassi had found out where the grubby little package from vault seven hundred and thirteen was.

"And that was not good. Considering her heritage" muttered Professor Flitwick 

"Why, what is it?" the entire Hall was so curious 

"You shall find out soon enough. Until then I would like to enjoy the remmants of peace and quit" Minerva said, glaring at the twins. the Trio and the Marauders. 

"On that note..I am done" Seamus closed the book.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 12

 

"Would someone like to read?" asked Dumbledore politely.

Sirius raised his hand, jumping like a kid "I will! I want! I want!

Dumbledore chuckled. He was so glad to see Sirius like this. Some may find him childish and yes, sometimes he was. However, many have forgotten that Sirius spent twelve years of his young-adult life in a personal hell. Somehow this behaviour and the ability to laugh, joke and do pranks, it was saving him. Of course, non of it as much as his little girl.

"All right, Sirius, you do the honours" Albus smiled.

Cassiopeia and Remus rolled their eyes, but were pleased that Sirius was out of his dark mood shell. 

                                                                                                                   "Halloween,"

The trio smiled and took each other hand.

"That the good one" Ron said, looking happy

Hermione beamed "The one that change my life"

"To us" said Cassiopeia loudly, like she was toasting.

Everyone gave them a weird look. 

Hermione started. "On halloween, a-"

"a special moment, a situation you could say .."continued Ron

"A very special situation occurred.." finished Cassiopeia 

"And here were are now!" they said in unison 

Malfoy couldn't believe his eyes when he saw that Cassiopeia and Ron were still at Hogwarts the next day, looking tired but perfectly cheerful.

Everyone chuckled.

"Only you..only you would look cheerful after THAT" Terry Boot exclaimed

Indeed, by the next morning Cassi and Ron thought that meeting the three-headed dog had been an excellent adventure, and they were quite keen to have another one.

Sirius thought 'James would have been so proud.'

"Absolutely not! I hope you didn't go near that place again!" Molly shouted

The Trio glanced at each other nervously. Something that didn't go unnoticed by Remus.

"I am going to be grey.." he muttered 

In the meantime, Cassiopeia filled Ron in about the package that seemed to have been moved from Gringotts to Hogwarts, and they spent a lot of time wondering what could possibly need such heavy protection.

"It's either really valuable or really dangerous," said Ron.

"Or both" said Charlie Weasley

"Or both," said Cassiopeia.

Fred and George started whistling.

"Oh..look at that.." Fred grinned

"Brother mine..do you think.." George raised an eyebrow 

Charlie understood what they were doing, so he winked at Cassi.

Adrian bit the inside of his cheek. "They are her friends, her friends..you can't curse them"

"But as all they knew for sure about the mysterious object was that it was about two inches long, they didn't have much chance of guessing what it was without further clues.

"And of course you went looking for the said clues" McGonagall sigh 

"Of course" Ron admitted proudly 

Neither Neville nor Hermione showed the slightest interest in what lay underneath the dog and the trapdoor.

All Neville cared about was never going near the dog again.

"I confirme, it stands like this even today" Neville nodded 

"Mate, I would worry if you did go..how bloody mental you have to be"? asked Seamus 

Neville tried not to laugh hysterically 

The Trio looked at each other offended. They weren't mental, thank you very much.

Hermione was now refusing to speak to Cassiopeia and Ron, but she was such a bossy know-it-all that they saw this as an added bonus.

"Please, do tell us all how are you friends...you seemed to really dislike each other" asked Zabini 

"You shall find out in this very chapter, Mister Zabini" teased him Cassiopeia

The boy smirked back at her.."You know, we would get along just fine!"

All they really wanted now was a way of getting back at Malfoy, and to their great delight, just such a thing arrived in the mail about a week later.

As the owls flooded into the Great Hall as usual, everyone's attention was caught at once by a long, thin package carried by six large screech owls. Cassiopeia was just as interested as everyone else to see what was in this large parcel, and was amazed when the owls soared down and dropped it right in front of her, knocking her bacon to the floor.

"Very subtle..for a secret"  murmured Ernie 

They had hardly fluttered out of the way when another owl dropped a letter on top of the parcel.

Cassiopeia ripped open the letter first, which was lucky, because it said:

DO NOT OPEN THE PARCEL AT THE TABLE.

It contains your new Nimbus Two Thousand, but I don't want everybody knowing you've got a broomstick or they'll all want one. Oliver Wood will meet you tonight on the Quidditch field at seven o'clock for your first training session.

Professor McGonagall

Professor McGonagall smiled.

Cassi had difficulty hiding her glee as she handed the note to Ron to read.

"A Nimbus Two Thousand!" Ron moaned enviously. "I've never even touched one."

Ron blushed 

"I should buy him a broomstick..as a gift" Sirius thought. Ron was a true friend. His family..Merlin, he was glad Cassiopeia has them.

They left the hall quickly, wanting to unwrap the broomstick in private before their first class, but halfway across the entrance hall they found the way upstairs barred by Crabbe and Goyle. Malfoy seized the package from Cassiopeia and felt it.

"Felt it..." Fred started, tone suggestive 

"Mister Weasley..dont you dare" McGonagall shouted 

"That's a broomstick," he said, throwing it back to Cass with a mixture of jealousy and spite on his face. "You'll be in for it this time, Potter, first years aren't allowed them."

Ron couldn't resist it.

Ron grinned happily at the memory.

"It's not any old broomstick," he said, "it's a Nimbus Two Thousand. What did you say you've got at home, Malfoy, a Comet Two Sixty?"

"Not anymore, its a Nimbus Two Thousand and One!" Malfoy couldn't stop himself

"What are you..eleven again?" Warrington sneered. 

Ron grinned at Cassi. "Comets look flashy, but they're not in the same league as the Nimbus."

"What would you know about it, Weasley, you couldn't afford half the handle," Malfoy snapped back. "I suppose you and your brothers have to save up twig by twig.

The twins grinned evilly "You are in for it, little brat"  they whispered 

 

Before Ron could answer, Professor Flitwick appeared at Malfoy's elbow.

"Not arguing, I hope, boys and lady?" he squeaked.

"Potter's been sent a broomstick, Professor," said Malfoy quickly.

"Dear Merlin, Salazar and Circe! You are a rat, Malfoy. Can't fight your own battles" Tracey yelled, anger in her voice. 

"Absolute and total disgrace" Adrian agreed, looking disgusted.

"Yes, yes, that's right," said Professor Flitwick, beaming at Cassiopeia. "Professor McGonagall told me all about the special circumstances, Potter. And what model is it?"

"A Nimbus Two Thousand, it is," said Cassi, fighting not to laugh at the look of horror on Malfoy's face.

Everyone else laughed though. 

"I wish I have seen" muttered Seamus 

"And it's really thanks to Malfoy here that I've got it," she added.

The Hall burst out laughing.

"Good one, Cassi!" nickered Collin

"Nice move, a Slytherin I would say" Adrian said, teasing her a bit.

"Why, thank you Pucey, I will take it as a personal compliment" she shot back

"Oh, but it was" smirked Adrian.

Sirius gripe on the book hardened. What the hell? 

Ron looked ready to burst with anger, hissing in Nevill's ear "Are they bloody flirting in the middle of the Hall?"

Nev pursed his lips, nodded unhappily. 

Hermione and Ginny massaged their temples 

Cassiopeia and Ron headed upstairs, smothering their laughter at Malfoy's obvious rage and confusion.

Malfoy glared. "Bloody trio" he muttered, very very quietly  

"Well, it's true," Cass chortled as they reached the top of the marble staircase, "If he hadn't stolen Neville's Remembrall I wouldn't be on the team…"

"So I suppose you think that's a reward for breaking rules?" came an angry voice from just behind them.

"HERMIONE!" most of the Hall shouted 

Hermione was stomping up the stairs, looking disapprovingly at the package in Cassiopeia's hand.

"I thought you weren't speaking to us?" said Cassi.

"Yes, don't stop now," said Ron, "it's doing us so much good."

Everyone looked confused. They are going to be friends soon, right?

Hermione marched away with her nose in the air.

Cassiopeia had a lot of trouble keeping her mind on her lessons that day. It kept wandering up to the dormitory where her new broomstick was lying under her bed, or straying off to the Quidditch field where she'd be learning to play that night.

"I don't blame you, don't blame you at all...when I made the team.." Oliver trailed

"Yes, yes. When you made it..you were unbearable.. we all remember that" snorted Lee

She bolted her dinner that evening without noticing what she was eating, and then rushed upstairs with Ron to unwrap the Nimbus Two Thousand at last.

"Wow," Ron sighed, as the broomstick rolled onto Cassi's bedspread.

Even Cassiopeia, who knew nothing about the different brooms, thought it looked wonderful. Sleek and shiny, with a mahogany handle, it had a long tail of neat, straight twigs and Nimbus Two Thousand written in gold near the top.

As seven o'clock drew nearer, Cassiopeia left the castle and set off in the dusk toward the Quidditch field. She had never been inside the stadium before. Hundreds of seats were raised in stands around the field so that the spectators were high enough to see what was going on. At either end of the field were three golden poles with hoops on the end. They reminded Cassi of the little plastic sticks Muggle children blew bubbles through, except that they were fifty feet high.

Many muggleborns grinned at that.

Too eager to fly again to wait for Wood, Cassiopeia mounted her broomstick and kicked off from the ground. What a feeling — she swooped in and out of the goal posts and then sped up and down the field. The Nimbus Two Thousand turned wherever she wanted at her lightest touch.

"The best feeling.."moaned Cassi

"Hey, Potter, come down!"

Oliver Wood had arrived. He was carrying a large wooden crate under his arm. Cass landed next to him.

"Very nice," said Wood, his eyes glinting. "I see what McGonagall meant… you really are a natural.

I'm just going to teach you the rules this evening, then you'll be joining team practice three times a week."

"Ah...three times a week..what a good time it was" sang Fred

Wood glared "It did us good, didn't it?" he said grumpy 

He opened the crate. Inside were four different-sized balls.

"Right," said Wood. "Now, Quidditch is easy enough to understand, even if it's not too easy to play. There are seven players on each side. Three of them are called Chasers."

"Three Chasers," Cassi repeated, as Wood took out a bright red ball about the size of a soccer ball.

"This ball's called the Quaffle," said Wood. "The Chasers throw the Quaffle to each other and try and get it through one of the hoops to score a goal. Ten points every time the Quaffle goes through one of the hoops. Follow me?"

"The Chasers throw the Quaffle and put it through the hoops to score," she recited. "So — that's sort of like basketball on broomsticks with six hoops, isn't it?"

Most of the muggle borns and half bloods chuckled.

"What's basketball?" said Wood curiously.

"Never mind," said Cassi quickly.

"Now, there's another player on each side who's called the Keeper — I'm Keeper for Gryffindor. I have to fly around our hoops and stop the other team from scoring."

"Three Chasers, one Keeper," said Cassi, who was determined to remember it all. "And they play with the Quaffle. Okay, got that. So what are they for?" She pointed at the three balls left inside the box.

"I'll show you now," said Wood. "Take this."

He handed Cassi a small club, a bit like a short baseball bat.

"I'm going to show you what the Bludgers do," Wood said. "These two are the Bludgers."

He showed Cassiopeia two identical balls, jet black and slightly smaller than the red Quaffle. Cassi noticed that they seemed to be straining to escape the straps holding them inside the box.

"Stand back," Wood warned her. He bent down and freed one of the Bludgers.

At once, the black ball rose high in the air and then pelted straight at Cassiopeia's face. Cassi swung at it with the bat to stop it from breaking her nose, and sent it zigzagging away into the air — it zoomed around their heads and then shot at Wood, who dived on top of it and managed to pin it to the ground.

"See?" Wood panted, forcing the struggling Bludger back into the crate and strapping it down safely. "The Bludgers rocket around, trying to knock players off their brooms. That's why you have two Beaters on each team — the Weasley twins are ours

"And we are good ones at that!"  Weasleys yelled.

it's their job to protect their side from the Bludgers and try and knock them toward the other team. So — think you've got all that?"

"Three Chasers try and score with the Quaffle; the Keeper guards the goal posts; the Beaters keep the Bludgers away from their team," Cassi reeled off.

"Very good," said Wood.

"Er — have the Bludgers ever killed anyone?" Cassiopeia asked, hoping she sounded offhand.

"Of course you would ask it" Hermione murmured

 Cassiopeia  grinned sheepishly.

"Never at Hogwarts. We've had a couple of broken jaws but nothing worse than that. Now, the last member of the team is the Seeker. That's you. And you don't have to worry about the Quaffle or the Bludgers —"

"— unless they crack my head open."

Cassiopeia tried not to blush, while many chuckled 

"Don't worry, the Weasleys are more than a match for the Bludgers — I mean, they're like a pair of human Bludgers themselves.

"Olliiii...dearest! We didn't know you thought so high of us" fake cried George 

Wood reached into the crate and took out the fourth and last ball. Compared with the Quaffle and the Bludgers, it was tiny, about the size of a large walnut. It was bright gold and had little fluttering silver wings.

"This," said Wood, "is the Golden Snitch, and it's the most important ball of the lot. It's very hard to catch because it's so fast and difficult to see. It's the Seeker's job to catch it. You've got to weave in and out of the Chasers, Beaters, Bludgers, and Quaffle to get it before the other team's Seeker, because whichever Seeker catches the Snitch wins his team an extra hundred and fifty points, so they nearly always win.

"Nearly the key word" commented Ron, remembering the match with Krum 

That's why Seekers get fouled so much. A game of Quidditch only ends when the Snitch is caught, so it can go on for ages — I think the record is three months, they had to keep bringing on substitutes so the players could get some sleep.

"Well, that's it any questions?"

Cassiopeia shook her head.

She understood what she had to do all right, it was doing it that was going to be the problem.

"We won't practice with the Snitch yet," said Wood, carefully shutting it back inside the crate, "it's too dark, we might lose it. Let's try you out with a few of these."

He pulled a bag of ordinary golf balls out of his pocket and a few minutes later, he and Cassiopeia were up in the air, Wood throwing the golf balls as hard as he could in every direction for her to catch.

Cassiopeia didn't miss a single one,

"Of course she didn't...thats .." but Wood didn't finish

"YOUR SEEKER. WE KNOW OLIVER, FOR MERLIN'S LOVE!" the team yelled 

and Wood was delighted. After half an hour, night had really fallen and they couldn't carry on.

"That Quidditch Cup'll have our name on it this year," said Wood happily as they trudged back up to the castle.

Cassiopeia felt guilty.

Oliver whispered something in her ear, shaking his head.

After a few seconds, the girl grinned. 

"I wouldn't be surprised if you turn out better than Charlie Weasley, and he could have played for England if he hadn't gone off chasing dragons."

"I love my job!" Charlie said loudly. 

"Well, between two evil.." his mother was muttering, clearly unhappy with said job

Perhaps it was because she was now so busy, what with Quidditch practice three evenings a week on top of all his homework, but Cassiopeia could hardly believe it when she realized that she'd already been at Hogwarts two months. The castle felt more like home than Privet Drive ever had.

"I know it all too well" thought her godfather sadly 

Her lessons, too, were becoming more and more interesting now that they had mastered the basics.

On Halloween morning they woke to the delicious smell of baking pumpkin wafting through the corridors. Even better, Professor Flitwick announced in Charms that he thought they were ready to start making objects fly, something they had all been dying to try since they'd seen him make Neville's toad zoom around the classroom.

Professor Flitwick put the class into pairs to practice. Cassi's partner was Seamus Finnigan 

 

Ron, however, was to be working with Hermione Granger.

It was hard to tell whether Ron or Hermione was angrier about this.

"I was.." they both yelled in the same time 

She hadn't spoken to either of them since the day Cassi's broomstick had arrived.

"Now, don't forget that nice wrist movement we've been practicing!" squeaked Professor

Flitwick, perched on top of his pile of books as usual. "Swish and flick, remember, swish and flick. And saying the magic words properly is very important, too — never forget Wizard Baruffio, who said 's' instead of 'f' and found himself on the floor with a buffalo on his chest."

Remus laugh so loud, probably the mermaids heard him.

Sirius went a bit pink.

"You know, Cassi, somehow I believe your godfather was involved in that.." Luna laughed 

"Whatever gave you that idea, Luna-girl" Cassi grinned back 

It was very difficult.

Cassi and Seamus swished and flicked, but the feather they were supposed to be sending skyward just lay on the desktop. Seamus got so impatient that he prodded it with his wand and set fire to it — Cassi had to put it out with her hat.

Ron, at the next table, wasn't having much more luck.

"Wingardium Leviosa!" he shouted, waving his long arms like a windmill.

 

"You're saying it wrong," Cassi heard Hermione snap. "It's Wing-gar-dium Levi-o-sa, make the 'gar' nice and long."

"You do it, then, if you're so clever," Ron snarled.

Everyone giggled. 

"Wrong thing to say." Susan giggled hysterically.

"Even I wouldn't challenge Granger" agreed Cassius, eyeing said girl. She was really pretty..Sweet Salazar, it was Adrian's fault. Now he started to notice the red and gold table too!

Hermione rolled up the sleeves of her gown, flicked her wand, and said, "Wingardium Leviosa!"

Their feather rose off the desk and hovered about four feet above their heads.

"Oh, well done!" cried Professor Flitwick, clapping. "Everyone see here, Miss Granger's done it!"

Ron was in a very bad mood by the end of the class.

"You bet he was" Ginny giggled 

"It's no wonder no one can stand her," he said to Cassi as they pushed their way into the crowded corridor, "she's a nightmare, honestly."

"Ronald Weasley! How dare you...I raised you better!" Molly was yelling, her hands on her hips

"I know, I know..I am sorry and I was.."

"No, it is fine. I had it coming. You saw yourselves how I behaved" Hermione said sadly. 

Someone knocked into Cassi as they hurried past her. It was Hermione. Cassi caught a glimpse of her face — and was startled to see that she was in tears.

"I think she heard you."

"So?" said Ron, but he looked a bit uncomfortable. "She must've noticed she's got no friends."

Cassiopeia hit him with the book. " Honestly! Ron, what is wrong with you..I know she is a bit difficult and can irritate you a lot. But I think she isn't used to have friends. Hermione is lonely. I think people just assume that she is that "know-it-all-girl" unworthy of their attention. We shouldn't be like that to her"

Hermione smiled fondly at her friend. "I love you" she whispered.

 

Hermione didn't turn up for the next class and wasn't seen all afternoon. On their way down to the Great Hall for the Halloween feast, Cass and Ron overheard Parvati Patil telling her friend Lavender that Hermione was crying in the girls' bathroom and wanted to be left alone. Ron looked still more awkward at this, but a moment later they had entered the Great Hall, where the Halloween decorations put Hermione out of their minds.

Hermione was somewhere between laughing and crying.

A thousand live bats fluttered from the walls and ceiling while a thousand more swooped over the tables in low black clouds, making the candles in the pumpkins stutter. The feast appeared suddenly on the golden plates, as it had at the start-of-term banquet.

Cassiopeia was just helping herself to a baked potato when Professor Quirrell came sprinting into the hall, his turban askew and terror on his face. Everyone stared as he reached Professor Dumbledore's chair, slumped against the table, and gasped, "Troll — in the dungeons — thought you ought to know."

 

"So...we will find out what happened to that troll?" asked a first year Gryffindor, looking way to exited for Minerva's liking.

He then sank to the floor in a dead faint.

"Fake..(cough)bastard..fake" muttered Ron. 

"It was so unnatural, now if I think about it..the way he fainted" murmured Cassiopeia to her friends.

Hermione groaned. "Bloody good actor"

There was an uproar. It took several purple firecrackers exploding from the end of Professor Dumbledore's wand to bring silence.

"Prefects," he rumbled, "lead your Houses back to the dormitories immediately!"

 

"But the Slytherins dormitories.." started to speak Hannah 

"We have more ways to reach it" answered Moon politely 

Percy was in his element.

"What a surprise" snorted Ginny

Percy scowled.

"Follow me! Stick together, first years! No need to fear the troll if you follow my orders!

"Yeah, because the troll would just bend the knee in front of the Greatest Prats of all time" Fred said sarcastically 

Stay close behind me, now. Make way, first years coming through! Excuse me, I'm a prefect!"

"Yeah, thats Percy." Bill nodded unhappily 

"How could a troll get in?" Cassi asked as they climbed the stairs.

"Good question"! Moody approved 

"Don't ask me, they're supposed to be really stupid," said Ron. "Maybe Peeves let it in for a Halloween joke."

Remus was to worried, to comment that Peeves would never do something like that..

They passed different groups of people hurrying in different directions. As they jostled their way through a crowd of confused Hufflepuffs, Cassi suddenly grabbed Ron's arm.

"I've just thought — Hermione."

"Oh my...you don't know about the troll!!" yelled Padma

"Well, Hemione is fine. I think Ron and Cassi went to a teacher, right, children?" Molly asked 

The due tried not to look at her.

"What about her?"

"She doesn't know about the troll."

Ron bit his lip.

"Oh, all right," he snapped. "But Percy'd better not see us."

"WHAT?? ARE YOU BOTH MENTAL?!" shouted normally calm Remus. Horror on his face.

Ducking down, they joined the Hufflepuffs going the other way, slipped down a deserted side corridor, and hurried off toward the girls' bathroom. They had just turned the corner when they heard quick footsteps behind them.

"Percy!" hissed Ron, pulling Cassi behind a large stone griffin.

Peering around it, however, they saw not Percy but Snape.

All the students raised their eyebrows.

"You did see me, Potter, Weasley. Could have come to me"  Snape sneered

"Yeah,,,right. Like you would care for a Gryffindor" Ron spat

Severus felt a slap. He wasn't fair, he knew. But he wouldn't let her die..

He crossed the corridor and disappeared from view.

"What's he doing?" Cassiopeia whispered. "Why isn't he down in the dungeons with the rest of the teachers?"

"Search me."

Quietly as possible, they crept along the next corridor after Snape's fading footsteps.

"He's heading for the third floor," Cass said,

"Ohh.."whispered Collin 

but Ron held up his hand.

"Can you smell something?"

Cassiopeia sniffed and a foul stench reached her nostrils, a mixture of old socks and the kind of public toilet no one seems to clean.

"EWWW!" said almost every girl 

And then they heard it — a low grunting, and the shuffling footfalls of gigantic feet. Ron pointed — at the end of a passage to the left, something huge was moving toward them. They shrank into the shadows and watched as it emerged into a patch of moonlight.

"The troll…" whispered Terry audibly 

It was a horrible sight. Twelve feet tall, its skin was a dull, granite gray, its great lumpy body like a boulder with its small bald head perched on top like a coconut. It had short legs thick as tree trunks with flat, horny feet. The smell coming from it was incredible. It was holding a huge wooden club, which dragged along the floor because its arms were so long.

"What a beauty " muttered Anna Cross, a third year Ravenclaw 

Adrian bent his head a bit and whispered "Reminds me of that Vernon person"

Cassiopeia bit her lip. Trying hard not to laugh. She looked at him and mouthed "You have no idea..I thought the exact same thing..well, after I came back to my senses" 

Adrian didn't want to look away. Her yes..they were holding him, like spell.

Andromeda smirked. She approved. Cassiopeia with her unpredictable nature needed someone calm, calculated, a bit down the earth guy.

She only needs to take care of Remus and her cousin. 

Not really an easy task.

The troll stopped next to a doorway and peered inside. It waggled its long ears, making up its tiny mind, then slouched slowly into the room.

"The key's in the lock," Cassi muttered. "We could lock it in."

"WAIT! That was you guys?" Hermione asked.

"We thought it was a good idea..back than.."Cassi and Ron started to get away from her.

"Good idea," said Ron nervously.

"NO! BAD IDEA! REALLY BAD" Cassius ranted.

Hermione loked at him. Really looked at him for the first time in her school years. His dark blue eyes, thin,pink lips. Dark brown hair and sharp cheekbones. He was a good looking guy, to be honest. Hermione was quit surprised, but pleased that he showed some worry for her.

They edged toward the open door, mouths dry, praying the troll wasn't about to come out of it. With one great leap, Cassi managed to grab the key, slam the door, and lock it.

"Yes!"

"Nooo.." murmured Neville, shaking a bit.

Flushed with their victory, they started to run back up the passage, but as they reached the corner they heard something that made their hearts stop — a high, petrified scream — and it was coming from the chamber they'd just chained up.

"Oh, no," said Ron, pale as the Bloody Baron.

"It's the girls' bathroom!" Cassiopeia gasped.

"and here is the part where you two going to find a teacher, right?? RIGHT?" Remus Lupin was hysterical.

Sirius hurried with his reading, eyeing his girl and the other two. "They are fine. They are alive" he was chanting under his breath 

"Hermione!" they said together.

 

It was the last thing they wanted to do, but what choice did they have?

"Mmm..go to a teacher?" asked Justin, looking petrified himself 

"We didn't have time. If we left Hermione there alone..." Cassiopeia didn't want to think about it

Wheeling around, they sprinted back to the door and turned the key, fumbling in their panic. Cassiopeia pulled the door open and they ran inside.

Hermione Granger was shrinking against the wall opposite, looking as if she was about to faint. The troll was advancing on her, knocking the sinks off the walls as it went.

"Confuse it!" Cassi said desperately to Ron, and, seizing a tap, she threw it as hard as she could against the wall.

"That would be a great idea, fellows..but the Troll would pay attention to YOU" Fred tried not to loose his cool.

The troll stopped a few feet from Hermione. It lumbered around, blinking stupidly, to see what had made the noise. Its mean little eyes saw Cassiopeia. It hesitated, then made for her instead, lifting its club as it went.

Remus was ready to faint. "My hair grey..of course its grey..now everyone can see why.." he was muttering madly

"Oy, pea-brain!" yelled Ron from the other side of the chamber, and he threw a metal pipe at it. The troll didn't even seem to notice the pipe hitting its shoulder, but it heard the yell and paused again, turning its ugly snout toward Ron instead, giving Cassi time to run around it.

"Come on, run, run!" Cass yelled at Hermione, trying to pull her toward the door, but she couldn't move, she was still flat against the wall, her mouth open with terror.

"Hermione" several people groaned.

"Well excuse her, she was a first bloody year" muttered Cassius,sarcastically

Really...like the lot of them would be any better.

The shouting and the echoes seemed to be driving the troll berserk. It roared again and started toward Ron, who was nearest and had no way to escape.

"NO!!" Molly was almost sobbing, looking terrified. 

Her husband grabbed her shoulder. It wasn't to comfort her, most likely, but himself. Arthur was pale, his eyes almost popped out.

Cassiopeia then did something that was both very brave and very stupid:

McGonagall groaned, hiding her white face in her hands.

She took a great running jump and managed to fasten her arms around the troll's neck from behind.

"Ah...that was your practice? At your relatives place?" asked Anthony.

Dumbledore noticed that no student, nether Cassiopeia called that place her home. He paled..if she never saw it in that way...

The troll couldn't feel Cassi hanging there, but even a troll will notice if you stick a long bit of wood up its nose, and Cass's wand had still been in her hand when she'd jumped – it had gone straight up one of the troll's nostrils.

"Gryffindors..mental the lot of them" muttered Adrian. "Totally mad..who jumps on a troll..who?" he clearly lost his Slytherin cool.

Cassiopeia winked at him "Well, at leas you never get bored with us" she joked 

"Too true, I would die of hart attack with you" he whispered, still looking unsure and worried

Howling with pain, the troll twisted and flailed its club, with Cassi clinging on for dear life; any second, the troll was going to rip her off or catch her a terrible blow with the club.

Hermione had sunk to the floor in fright; Ron pulled out his own wand — not knowing what he was going to do he heard himself cry the first spell that came into his head: "Wingardium Leviosa!"

"Great idea, Weasley. So clever of you, do the spell that you can't do!" Snape sneered.

Ron smirked.

The club flew suddenly out of the troll's hand, rose high, high up into the air, turned slowly over — and dropped, with a sickening crack, onto its owner's head. The troll swayed on the spot and then fell flat on its face, with a thud that made the whole room tremble.

"You were saying, Professor..?" Ron smirk got bigger.

Minerva looked at him proudly "Yes,Severus, care to repeat that?"

Said Professor looked away, really unhappy about it all.

The student tried not to snort at that. 

McGonagall was rocking...

Cassi got to her feet. She was shaking and out of breath. Ron was standing there with his wand still raised, staring at what he had done.

It was Hermione who spoke first.

"Is it — dead?"

"I don't think so," said Cassiopeia, "I think it's just been knocked out."

"You knocked out a mountain troll?" a Slytherin second screached.

"yeah..we sure did" the Trio whispered

She bent down and pulled her wand out of the troll's nose. It was covered in what looked like lumpy gray glue.

"Urgh — troll boogers."

She wiped it on the troll's trousers.

A sudden slamming and loud footsteps made the three of them look up. They hadn't realized what a racket they had been making, but of course, someone downstairs must have heard the crashes and the troll's roars. A moment later, Professor McGonagall had come bursting into the room, closely followed by Snape, with Quirrell bringing up the rear. Quirrell took one look at the troll, let out a faint whimper, and sat quickly down on a toilet, clutching his heart.

"Bloody moron..acting skills he got, no self-respect and brains though." Ron said darkly 

Snape bent over the troll. Professor McGonagall was looking at Ron and Cassiopeia

Minerva looked fondly at them "I was thinking about another such a due. Black and Potter. You do remind me of them a lot.." 

Cassiopeia had never seen her look so angry. Her lips were white.

"Oh yeah...thats bad.." Fred agreed

"Better run for your life" George muttered

They knew that look. Got it almost every day, after all.

Hopes of winning fifty points for Gryffindor faded quickly from Cassi's mind.

"Points..you were thinking about the points?" Amelia was almost dumbstruck 

"What on earth were you thinking of?" said Professor McGonagall, with cold fury in her voice. Cassiopeia looked at Ron, who was still standing with his wand in the air. "You're lucky you weren't killed. Why aren't you in your dormitory?"

Snape gave Cassi a swift, piercing look. Cassiopeia looked at the floor. She wished Ron would put his wand down.

Then a small voice came out of the shadows.

"Please, Professor McGonagall — they were looking for me."

"Miss Granger!"

Hermione had managed to get to her feet at last.

"I went looking for the troll because I — I thought I could deal with it on my own — you know, because I've read all about them."

"Miss Granger!" McGonagall hissed

"And that was the BIG day..Hermione Granger went to the Dark side" Ron informed them with the glee

Ron dropped his wand. Hermione Granger, telling a downright lie to a teacher?

The twins snickered.

"If they hadn't found me, I'd be dead now. Cassiopeia stuck her wand up its nose and Ron knocked it out with its own club. They didn't have time to come and fetch anyone. It was about to finish me off when they arrived."

Cassi and Ron tried to look as though this story wasn't new to them.

"Well, you clearly have some acting skills" Professor McGonagall muttered 

"Well — in that case…" said Professor McGonagall, staring at the three of them, "Miss Granger, you foolish girl, how could you think of tackling a mountain troll on your own?"

Hermione hung her head. Cassi was speechless. Hermione was the last person to do anything against the rules, and here she was, pretending she had, to get them out of trouble. It was as if Snape had started handing out sweets.

Snape looked outrageous.

"Yeah..unless he poisoned it before.." Lee mumbled 

"Miss Granger, five points will be taken from Gryffindor for this," said Professor McGonagall. "I'm very disappointed in you. If you're not hurt at all, you'd better get off to Gryffindor tower. Students are finishing the feast in their houses."

Hermione left.

Professor McGonagall turned to Cassi and Ron.

"Well, I still say you were lucky, but not many first years could have taken on a full-grown mountain troll. You each win Gryffindor five points. Professor Dumbledore will be informed of this. You may go."

They hurried out of the chamber and didn't speak at all until they had climbed two floors up. It was a relief to be away from the smell of the troll, quite apart from anything else.

"We should have gotten more than ten points," Ron grumbled.

"Bloody Merlin, Ron..you could have died!" Ginny yelled

"Five, you mean, once she's taken off Hermione's."

"Good of her to get us out of trouble like that," Ron admitted. "Mind you, we did save her."

"Aren't you cute" muttered Salle-Ann,from the raven's table

"She might not have needed saving if we hadn't locked the thing in with her," Cassiopeia reminded him.

They had reached the portrait of the Fat Lady.

"Pig snout," they said and entered.

The common room was packed and noisy. Everyone was eating the food that had been sent up. Hermione, however, stood alone by the door, waiting for them. There was a very embarrassed pause. Then, none of them looking at each other, they all said "Thanks," and hurried off to get plates.

"But from that moment on, Hermione Grange became their friend. There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them."

Every single person was concentrating at the Trio. 

"That..that..the story behind your friendship?"  Theo Nott asked, gaping like a fish 

"And have you ever heard about, oh I don't know making friends the NORMAL way" Adrian asked, still shaking

"Normal is boring. We live by this rule" Cassi laughed

Hermione and Ron nodded along, beaming at her

"Mother magic..mad, they are MAD" muttered Terry Boot

Sirius, still looking too pale, couldn't say a word. He just passed the bloody book to Remus. He was done for today. No more reading. His poor heart.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 13

 

                                                                            "Quidditch" Remus began to read, relief obvious in his voice. A chapter where Cassi is not in danger...or so he thought.

As they entered November, the weather turned very cold. The mountains around the school became icy gray and the lake like chilled steel. Every morning the ground was covered in frost. Hagrid could be seen from the upstairs windows defrosting broomsticks on the Quidditch field, bundled up in a long moleskin overcoat, rabbit fur gloves, and enormous beaver skin boots.

The Quidditch season had begun.

There were cheers all around the room, Oliver Wood the loudest of all. 

On Saturday, Cassiopeia would be playing in her first match after weeks of training: Gryffindor versus Slytherin.

"Always the best game!" Oliver said

"And the most violent," Justin muttered.

"And the dirtiest of all.." agreed Ernie 

"Well, yes but it makes it even better! So much adrenaline.." moaned Cassiopeia 

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Honestly, my friend is a bloody fanatic"

If Gryffindor won, they would move up into second place in the house championship.

 

Hardly anyone had seen Cassiopeia play because Wood had decided that, as their secret weapon, Cassi should be kept, well, secret.

Sirius chuckled "You know, Wood, James would have liked you"

A proud smiled broked Oliver's face. 

But the news that she was playing Seeker had leaked out somehow,

Tonks snorted. "Secrets always get out at Hogwarts."

 "Nothing stays secret here for long." agreed Bill

"Oh I wouldn't say that," Ron said grining

Everyone looked at the trio.

 

and Cassiopeia didn't know which was worse, people telling her she'd be brilliant or people telling her they'd be running around underneath her holding a mattress.

"I could have done with one." Cass muttered quietly so Molly, Sirius and Remus wouldn't hear.

It was really lucky that Cassiopeia now had Hermione as a friend. She didn't know how she'd have gotten through all her homework without her, helping to pick the right book or to help her with the schedule. 

McGonagall raised her eyebrows 

Oliver blushed a bit "Well, you see Professor, it was the only way..we ended to train hard and in secret.."

His team smiled fondly at him. During the season nothing else exited for Oliver, nothing but the game.

what with all the last-minute Quidditch practice Wood was making them do. She had also lent her Quidditch Through the Ages, which turned out to be a very interesting read.

 

"The best book ever" agreed Ron

Cassiopeia learned that there were seven hundred ways of committing a Quidditch foul and that all of them had happened during a World Cup match in 1473;

 

that Seekers were usually the smallest and fastest players, and that most serious Quidditch accidents seemed to happen to them;

Madam Pomfrey scowled 

that although people rarely died playing Quidditch 

"Such a relief..." Smith said sarcastically 

Susan and Hannah gave him a disgusted look.

No-one liked that guy. "Malfoy of the badgers"

referees had been known to vanish and turn up months later in the Sahara Desert.

Hermione had become a bit more relaxed about breaking rules since Cassiopeia and Ron had saved her from the mountain troll, and she was much nicer for it.

Many chuckled at that, much to Professors annoyance.

"And here I thought you would be the voice of wisdom in their heads" moaned Minerva 

Ron and Cassi looked at each other..Oh yeah, the voice she was..just you wait until the second book.

The day before Cassiopeia's first Quidditch match the three of them were out in the freezing courtyard during break, and Hermione had conjured them up a bright blue fire that could be carried around in a jam jar.

"Wow." mumbled Denis

"That's very impressive Miss Granger," Flitwick said beaming 

"But against the rules," Snape drawled.

"No, it is not, Severus and you know it. They were NOT in the corridors" Professor Sprout said sternly.

Moon and Warrington exchanged glances

"He did something, didn't he?" Lily muttered 

Cassius pursed his lips. No answer was needed.

They were standing with their backs to it, getting warm, when Snape crossed the yard. Cassiopeia noticed at once that Snape was limping.

"Of course you did. Mind your own business" muttered said Professor

"Mind your young or loose it!" shouted Sirius. He was irritated enough and Snape was getting on his nerves

Adrian looked like he agreed with Black with all his heart.

Cassi, Ron, and Hermione moved closer together to block the fire from view; they were sure it wouldn't be allowed.

McGonagall sighed, she had a bad feeling.

Unfortunately, something about their guilty faces caught Snape's eye.

Many Gryffindors groaned.

"Don't worry, he would have come to you anyway, can't help himself" Tonks snorted 

He limped over. He hadn't seen the fire, but he seemed to be looking for a reason to tell them off anyway.

The other teachers shot him stern looks.

 

"What's that you've got there, Potter?"

"Of course..he can't walk past you, Cassi...cant he?" Angelina muttered

"Nopppp, he really can't " confirmed her friend 

It was Quidditch Through the Ages. Cassiopeia showed him.

"good, there is nothing wrong with it. You can take a book out with you" Madam Pince commented 

"Library books are not to be taken outside the school," said Snape. "Give it to me. Five points from Gryffindor."

 

Dumbledore look disappointed, his gaze heavy.

"He's just made that rule up," Cassiopeia muttered angrily as Snape limped away. "Wonder what's wrong with his leg?"

"Dunno, but I hope it's really hurting him," said Ron bitterly.

Snape shot Ron an angry look, but was silent. Better not to taste the waters.

 

Even Molly Weasley couldn't bring herself to shout at her son for it. In fact, seems like she agreed with him, deeply.

The Gryffindor common room was very noisy that evening.

"When it's not?" asked Fred, smirking 

"We would never allow it, brother mine" confirmed George 

Cassi, Ron, and Hermione sat together next to a window. Hermione was checking  Ron's Charms homework. She would never let him copy ("How will you learn?"), but by asking her to read it through, he got the right answers anyway.

 

Cassiopeia felt restless. She wanted Quidditch Through the Ages back, to take her mind off her nerves about tomorrow. Why should she be afraid of Snape?

"Plenty of reasons." Squeaked a first year Hufflepuff.

Sprout shook her head "We need to have a talk with him" she whispered to Minerva

Getting up, she told Ron and Hermione she was going to ask Snape if she could have it.

"Not a good idea Cass," Fred said.

"Why not? She had all the rights to do it!" Madam Pince hissed, still angry at Snape

"Better you than me," they said together,

"That was brave" tried to sneer Smith

"And you know what bravery is..how?" Cassiopeia asked sarcastically, eyes narrowed 

Smith decided to stay shut. Better for his health.

but Cassiopeia had an idea that Snape wouldn't refuse if there were other teachers listening.

"You do have a point" Neville agreed

"Slytherin move" smiled Adrian at her

"But something would go wrong, thats for sure.." Seamus commented, knowingly 

She made her way down to the staff room and knocked. There was no answer. She knocked again. Nothing.

Perhaps Snape had left the book in there? It was worth a try. She pushed the door ajar and peered inside – and a horrible scene met her eyes.

"Now what?" Molly asked, nervously 

"Could be Snape in pink underpants with some toads on it?" shrugged George

" Weasley, I AM STILL HERE! HOW DARE YOU! Severus was on his feet, yelling and spitting

"I am aware that you are still here. No, I won't apologise to YOU. And those books can give even a Saint enough reason to strangle you. I am NO Saint" spat George

"Mister Lipun, do continue" Minerva said. She ignored George's obvious "disrespect for the teacher". Secretly, she was counting down the chapters before the break. Oh..she would give Snape piece of her mind!!

Snape and Filch were inside, alone.

Lavender began to giggle.

Snape shot Cassiopeia a glare. She ignored him in favor of resting her head on Sirius's shoulder

Snape was holding his robes above his knees.

"Ahhhh!" Dean screamed covering his eyes with his hands. 

"Too much information, too much!" Fred exclaimed.

 

One of his legs was bloody and mangled.

"Oh..well..whatever" sneered Parvati, still pissed at their Professor

Filch was handing Snape bandages.

"Blasted thing," Snape was saying. "How are you supposed to keep your eyes on all three heads at once?"

Moody glared suspiciously. "That was the point, Snape. You of all people should know..the Death Eaters would stop at nothing.."

Snape clenched his teeth. The Mad auror didn't trust him, never mind what Albus said.

"I wasn't trying to steal the stone if that is what you are insinuating!" Snape barked

Cassiopeia tried to shut the door quietly, but —

"Oh my Merlin." Ginny said sighing.

"POTTER!" Snape's face was twisted with fury as he dropped his robes quickly to hide his leg. Cassi gulped.

"I just wondered if I could have my book back."

"I can't believe you still asked for the book back," Justin said.

"Gryffindors..." Blaise shook his head. 

"GET OUT! OUT! "

"There was no need to yell, Snape, she just wanted her book back! Besides, you are Professor here. It is your duty to listen to the students, what if something had happaned" exclaimed Arthur 

Amelia Bones agreed with him "Great point, Arthur. However, as we clearly can see Severus Snape is  unable to carry on such a duty" she glared at Albus.

Headmaster was feeling nervous every minute. The Golden Trio constantly informed him about Snape's behaviour, he didn't listen. Again he failed his students. Something needs to be done.

Cassiopeia left, before Snape could take any more points from Gryffindor.

Many Gryffindors moved uncomfortably. There was one episode..when Cassiopeia, Hermione and Nevill lost a lot of points..and well, they didn't behave fairly. Now they wondered...

She sprinted back upstairs.

"At last Gryffindor didn't lose any points," said a second year lion

Hermione snorted "Oh yeah,tell me about it" she glared at her housemates 

Minerva narrowed her eyes. What was that about?

"Did you get it?" Ron asked as Cassiopeia joined them. "What's the matter?"

In a low whisper, Cass told them what she'd seen.

"Of course she did..those three tell each other everything" said Ginny 

"Correction, almost everything" answered Ron, giving his best friend a look

Hermione pursed her lips and shoot Cassiopeia a look of her own

Staff and students raised their eyebrows 

"Well, Cassiopeia tends to forget some little details about HOW MUCH SHE WAS HURT" Ron couldn't hold back 

"Guys, you worry too much" tried said girl

Hermione glared "Don't you dare! If I find out that you left something..you will be on my constant watch"

"I second that" exclaimed Madam Pomfrey 

Cassi tried to hide behind her godfather. Sirius, however, had determination in his eyes. And looked like he was on her friends side with all his heart.

"I know one person who wouldn't mind to watch her all the time..actually he already does it.." muttered Cassius 

Blaise and Theo smirked.

Adrian tried to hide his blush 

"You know what this means?" she finished breathlessly. "He tried to get past that three-headed dog at Halloween! That's where he was going when we saw him — he's after whatever it's guarding!

Moody continued to eye Snape suspiciously.

Amelia hoped that Albus was not that delusional.

And I'd bet my broomstick he let that troll in, to make a diversion!"

"I should've taken that bet," Ron mumbled.

"Well, it is too late now...that broomstick is long dead" Cassi sigh sadly 

Hermione's eyes were wide. "No — he wouldn't," she said. "I know he's not very nice, but he wouldn't try and steal something Dumbledore was keeping safe."

Moody was not pleased. Even if that was the case, the girl holds to much trust into authority. "You do not trust anyone blindly. Look where it got us all. Always, always question the authority, question even your own mother! So you won't be a sheep"

Hermione blushed "I know ,it know. I have learned my lessons"

"Really..as plural?" asked Tonks, truly surprised 

Hermione was red.

Ron was imitating something like "cough, cough..the git, second year"

"Honestly, Hermione, you think all teachers are saints or something," snapped Ron.

"Good, Weasley! Don't let them fool you!" praised him Mad-eye

"They should be able to trust us" tried to reason with him Minerva

Ron raised an eyebrow "First year, second, forth and of course the year of "great disaster, number five" 

No teacher had anything to say. They did mess up.

"I'm with Cass. I wouldn't put anything past Snape.

But what's he after? What's that dog guarding?"

"Here we go again.." muttered Molly

Cassiopeia went to bed with her head buzzing with the same question. Lavender was snoring loudly,

"I did not!" said girl yelled, blushing hard 

Hermione snorted and Cass just gave her an apolegic smile

but Cassiopeia couldn't sleep. She tried to empty her mind

"Did you now? Why couldn't you do it while we had our lessons?" sneered Snape, unpleasantly 

Ron thought that the bat was showing ether a lot of bravery or great deal of stupidity. His own house was glaring daggers at him.

"With all do respect, Professor Snape you did not try very hard, did you? Clear you mind..was all you said before attacking my head" Cassiopeia whispered coldly 

Professor Flitwick looked lost and so did the others "What are you talking about?"

"I had a pleasure..well, if you could call it one, to have my Occlumency lessons with Professor Snape. He would tell me to clear my mind and then use Legilimens on me"

Dumbledore shifted under his Deputy glare.

Tonks and Amelia couldn't hold it.

"How dare you!! It wasn't a lesson! You literally abused her minds! A Master of such an art should know it!" Tonks yelled

"Not to mention that you made her mental walls weak! Just you wait Snape, you will answer to me. Albus will not save you from that one. And help you Merlin if I discover that something dangerous happened because of your neglect!" Amelia was red, her eyes narrowed dangerously, wand in hand.

Aurors moved fast. Each door was covered, silent spell  and Snape wasn't going to do anything. 

Dumbledore did't know if he would be able to save him from this one. Because it was indeed a big offence!

Remus tried to keep reading, so his wolf wouldn't break free and murder the son of a bitch

— she needed to sleep, she had to, she had her first Quidditch match in a few hours – but the expression on Snape's face when Cassi had seen his leg wasn't easy to forget.

"I can't blame you," Neville said shuddering.

The next morning dawned very bright and cold. The Great Hall was full of the delicious smell of fried sausages and the cheerful chatter of everyone looking forward to a good Quidditch match.

"You've got to eat some breakfast."

"I don't want anything."

Molly sighed. "You really need to eat more Cassi, dear," she told quietly.

"Just a bit of toast," wheedled Hermione.

"I'm not hungry."

Cassiopeia felt terrible. In an hour's time she'd be walking onto the field.

"Cass, you need your strength," said Seamus Finnigan. "Seekers are always the ones who get clobbered by the other team."

 Dean shook his head in amusement.

"Hmmm...sorry about that, I didn't mean it that way.." murmured Seamus

"Thanks, Seamus," said Cassiopeia, watching Seamus pile ketchup on his sausages.

Ginny winkled her nose in disgust. 

By eleven o'clock the whole school seemed to be out in the stands around the Quidditch pitch. Many students had binoculars. The seats might be raised high in the air, but it was still difficult to see what was going on sometimes.

Ron and Hermione joined Neville, Seamus, and Dean the West Ham fan up in the top row.

Dean snorted. "Thanks a lot" 

Cassiopeia and Ron shrugged sheepishly.

As a surprise for Cassiopeia, they had painted a large banner on one of the sheets Scabbers had ruined.

Ron looked angry again. That bloody traitor.

It said Potter for President, and Dean, who was good at drawing, had done a large Gryffindor lion underneath. Then Hermione had performed a tricky little charm so that the paint flashed different colors.

"That is very impressive Miss Granger." Flitwick said smiling 

"It really is," Vector said.

"Thank you." Hermione said beaming

Meanwhile, in the locker room, Cassiopeia and the rest of the team were changing into their scarlet Quidditch robes (Slytherin would be playing in green).

Wood cleared his throat for silence. "Okay, men," he said.

Fred and George opened their mouths, but Oliver glared dangerously "Don't you dare! It is Quidditch time!"

"Does he realise that we are reading a book..a book about the past.." asked Blaise, amused 

"And women," said Chaser Angelina Johnson.

"And women," Wood agreed. "This is it."

"The big one," said Fred Weasley.

"The one we've all been waiting for," said George.

We know Oliver's speech by heart," Fred told Cassiopeia, "we were on the team last year."

The hall erupted into laughter. 

"Shut up, you two," said Wood. "This is the best team Gryffindor's had in years. We're going to win. I know it."

He glared at them all as if to say, "Or else."

"Or else no sleep at all ," Fred said shaking his head.

"Always wet and cold," George added.

"No food ," Angelina finished.

"We needed to practice!" Oliver yelled

"Right. It's time. Good luck, all of you."

Cassiopeia followed Fred and George out of the locker room and, hoping her knees weren't going to give way, walked onto the field to loud cheers.

Madam Hooch was refereeing. She stood in the middle of the field waiting for the two teams, her broom in her hand.

"Now, I want a nice fair game, all of you," she said, once they were all gathered around her.

Tracey snorted. "Like that is going to happen."

"Slytherin versus Gryffindor are always the dirtiest games." Sirius said.

Cassiopeia noticed that she seemed to be speaking particularly to the Slytherin Captain, Marcus Flint, a sixth year. Cassi thought Flint looked as if he had some troll blood in him.

"You would know, wouldn't you" laughed Roger the Head boy

"Actually..I think they have .." muttered Sirius. "You know...all the inbreeding"

People looked disgusted.

 

Out of the corner of her eye she saw the fluttering banner high above, flashing Potter for President over the crowd. Her heart skipped. She felt braver.

"I did guys! It helped a lot!"

Hermione and Dean smiled at her.

"Glad we could help," Dean said.

"Mount your brooms, please."

Cassiopeia clambered onto her Nimbus Two Thousand. Madam Hooch gave a loud blast on her silver whistle. Fifteen brooms rose up, high, high into the air. They were off.

Wood was leaning closer to Remus

"And the quaffle is taken immediately by Angelina Johnson of Gryffindor — what an excellent Chaser that girl is, and rather attractive, too —"

Several people began to chuckle.

"Why, thank you, Lee" Angelina said 

"JORDAN!"

"Sorry, Professor."

"Don't kill the fun,Minni!" Sirius exclaimed 

The Weasley twins' friend, Lee Jordan, was doing the commentary for the match, closely watched by Professor McGonagall.

McGonagall shook her head "After Lupin..." she was muttering 

Remus was blushing and his student were looking all to happy about this little fact.

"And she's really belting along up there, a neat pass to Alicia Spinnet, a good find of Oliver Wood's, last year only a reserve — back to Johnson and — no, the Slytherins have taken the quaffle, Slytherin Captain Marcus Flint gains the quaffle and off he goes — Flint flying like an eagle up there — he's going to sc— no, stopped by an excellent move by Gryffindor Keeper Wood and the Gryffindors take the quaffle — that's Chaser Katie Bell of Gryffindor there, nice dive around Flint, off up the field and — OUCH — that must have hurt, hit in the back of the head by a bludger — Quaffle taken by the Slytherins — that's Adrian Pucey speeding off toward the goal posts, but he's blocked by a second bludger — sent his way by Fred or George Weasley, can't tell which — nice play by the Gryffindor Beater, anyway, and Johnson back in possession of the quaffle, a clear field ahead and off she goes — she's really flying — dodges a speeding bludger — the goal posts are ahead — come on, now, Angelina — Keeper Bletchley dives — misses — GRYFFINDORS SCORE!"

Lions exploded yet again.

Gryffindor cheers filled the cold air, with howls and moans from the Slytherins.

"Budge up there, move along."

"Hagrid!"

Ron and Hermione squeezed together to give Hagrid enough space to join them.

"Oh no." Hermione moaned quietly.

"What?" Cassiopeia asked concerned 

"This isn't from your point of view anymore," Hermione said turning pale.

"Oh my..." Ron whispered, trying not to laugh

"Don't you worry, Mia, he won't do a thing" Cass reassured her 

"Bin watchin' from me hut," said Hagrid, patting a large pair of binoculars around his neck, "But it isn't the same as bein' in the crowd. No sign of the Snitch yet, eh?"

"Nope," said Ron. "Cassiopeia hasn't had much to do yet."

"Kept outta trouble, though, that's somethin',"

"Too true, too true" muttered Sirius under his breath 

said Hagrid, raising his binoculars and peering skyward at the speck that was Cassiopeia.

Way up above them, Cassi was gliding over the game, squinting about for some sign of the Snitch. This was part of her and Wood's game plan.

"Keep out of the way until you catch sight of the Snitch," Wood had said. "We don't want you attacked before you have to be."

"Pretty good" Justin said.

When Angelina had scored, Cassi had done a couple of loop-the-loops to let off her feelings. Now she was back to staring around for the Snitch. Once she caught sight of a flash of gold, but it was just a reflection from one of the Weasleys' wristwatches,

Oliver shot the twins sharp looks. 

and once a Bludger decided to come pelting her way, more like a cannonball than anything, but Cassi dodged it and Fred Weasley came chasing after it.

"All right there, Cassi?" he had time to yell, as he beat the Bludger furiously toward Marcus Flint.

"Good." Ron said. 

"Thank you" Sirius said sincerely

"Oh..Fred.." Molly cooed 

"Slytherin in possession," Lee Jordan was saying, "Chaser Pucey ducks two bludgers, two Weasleys, and Chaser Bell, and speeds toward the — wait a moment — was that the Snitch?"

A murmur ran through the crowd as Adrian Pucey dropped the quaffle, too busy looking over his shoulder at the flash of gold that had passed his left ear.

Adrian blushed deep red

His housemates however were laughing openly 

"Well..I would say..he wanted to see the new Gryffindor weapon in action" snorted Theo

Cassiopeia smiled shyly and blushed herself

Sirius was muttering curses under his breath and Ron was trying to put his five knuts as well.

Cassiopeia saw it. In a great rush of excitement she dived downward after the streak of gold. Slytherin Seeker Terence Higgs had seen it, too. Neck and neck they hurtled toward the Snitch — all the Chasers seemed to have forgotten what they were supposed to be doing as they hung in midair to watch.

"You see! You see! Thats what I am talking about..by Merlin, you were good, Higgs" exclaimed Cassiopeia 

Terence Higgs lost his cool and composed Slytherin face. He was beaming openly.

Cassi was faster than Higgs

"I dont deny it. You are bloody fast!" agreed  ex seeker 

— she could see the little round ball, wings fluttering, darting up ahead — she put on an extra spurt of speed —

WHAM! A roar of rage echoed from the Gryffindors below — Marcus Flint had blocked Cassiopeia on purpose, and Cass's broom spun off course, she holding on for dear life.

Sirius growled at the book. "How dare that piece of scum!! Where is he?! I am going to destroy him!" 

"Mister Black..emm, sir..Flint has graduated the school" tried Astoria quietly 

Warrington and Moon were looking at her like she went mad. You do not try to reason with Sirius Black, that much they understood.

Foul!" screamed the Gryffindors.

Madam Hooch spoke angrily to Flint and then ordered a free shot at the goal posts for Gryffindor. But in all the confusion, of course, the Golden Snitch had disappeared from sight again.

Down in the stands, Dean Thomas was yelling, "Send him off, ref! Red card!"

"What?" The pure-bloods asked.

"What are you talking about, Dean?" said Ron.

"Red card!" said Dean furiously. "In football you get shown the red card and you're out of the game!"

"But this isn't football, Dean," Ron reminded him.

Hagrid, however, was on Dean's side. "They oughta change the rules. Flint coulda knocked Cassiopeia  outta the air."

"Gonna find him..he will know how to mess with my girl!" scowled Sirius 

Not one person envied Flint at that moment

And even the blond brat was glad his last name was't Flint.

Lee Jordan was finding it difficult not to take sides.

"Obviously" muttered Cho

"So — after that obvious and disgusting bit of cheating —"

"Agreed" said Seamus

"Jordan!" growled Professor McGonagall.

"I mean, after that open and revolting foul…"

The students began to laugh.

"Go Lee." George  cheered.

 

"Jordan, I'm warning you—"

"All right, all right. Flint nearly kills the Gryffindor Seeker, which could happen to anyone,

"Will happen to the shit himself soon enough" sneered Sirius 

"I'm sure, so a penalty to Gryffindor, taken by Spinner, who puts it away, no trouble, and we continue play, Gryffindor still in possession."

It was as Cassiopeia dodged another Bludger, which went spinning dangerously past her head, that it happened. Her broom gave a sudden, frightening lurch.

"What? Tell me, what!!" Molly was nearly breaking 

 

For a split second, she thought she was going to fall. She gripped the broom tightly with both her hands and knees. She'd never felt anything like that.

It happened again. It was as though the broom was trying to buck her off.

 "Brooms don't just try to buck their riders off." Bill said

This made Molly even more nervous

"Unless it wasn't a broom, but rather a wizard" muttered Mad-eye

Andromeda was glaring at everyone,Albus included.

Both Remus and Sirius lost the little colour they had.

Lipun hurried,

But Nimbus Two Thousands did not suddenly decide to buck their riders off. Cassiopeia tried to turn back toward the Gryffindor goal-posts — she had half a mind to ask Wood to call time-out — and then she realized that her broom was completely out of her control.

"Name! Give me a name and I will kill that person with my hands!" Molly shouted, shaking with fear and rage

She couldn't turn it. She couldn't direct it at all. It was zigzagging through the air, and every now and then making violent swishing movements that almost unseated her.

Hermione hugged her friend, Ron took Cassi's hand.They needed to know, she was with them. 

Lee was still commentating.

"How did nobody notice?" Amelia asked peering at all the professors..

 McGonagall looked embarrassed she hadn't noticed.

"Slytherin in possession — Flint with the Quaffle — passes Spinnet — passes Bell — hit hard in the face by a Bludger, hope it broke his nose — only joking, Professor — Slytherins score — Ah no…"

The Slytherins were cheering. No one seemed to have noticed that Cass's broom was behaving strangely. It was carrying her slowly higher, away from the game, jerking and twitching as it went.

The tension in the Hall was high. 

"Dunno what Cassi thinks she's doing," Hagrid mumbled. He stared through his binoculars. "If I didn' know better, I'd say she'd lost control of her broom… but she can't have…"

"Finally! Thank you, Hagrid! murmured Sirius 

Suddenly, people were pointing up at her all over the stands. Her broom had started to roll over and over, with her only just managing to hold on. Then the whole crowd gasped. Cassiopeia's broom had given a wild jerk and she swung off it.

"No!" yelled Percy's, he didn't care about the Ministry anymore..those books. He had a bad feeling 

The Weasley's were all pale.

She was now dangling from it, holding on with only one hand.

"Bloody hell," first year Raven muttered.

"Did something happen to it when Flint blocked her?" Seamus whispered.

"No, couldn't have. Only the strongest  curse could have done it.The one you wouldn't be able to do, without practicing evil magic" Sirius exclaimed, anger evident in his voice.

"Can't have," Hagrid said, his voice shaking. "Can't nothing interfere with a broomstick except powerful Darkest magic — no kid could do that to a Nimbus Two Thousand."

"Damn right, you are! Death Eaters loved that curse! I have an idea about what it was..it is not an unforgivable, but it is not the one allowed to use ether!" he spat 

At these words, Hermione seized Hagrid's binoculars, but instead of looking up at Cassiopeia, she started looking frantically at the crowd.

"Good girl,Granger! Find the one who is doing it!" muttered Moody 

"What are you doing?" moaned Ron, gray-faced.

"I am not ashamed to admit I was ready to pass out" Ron whispered.

"Who can blame you? Your best friend was attacked and you were eleven!" exclaimed Adrian, looking irritated himself. They were supposed to be safe here!

"I knew it," Hermione gasped, "Snape — look."

"I did not try to kill Potter"! Snape yelled immediately.

Sirius looked disgusted but said " I hate you with all my heart, Snape, but even you are not stupid enough to do it with what you have on your arm"

"I agree with Black. I don't trust you at all, but you would have done your best to save her." Moody noted 

Snape looked uncomfortable. Did Moody figured him out? Did he suspect his motives?

Ron grabbed the binoculars. Snape was in the middle of the stands opposite them. He had his eyes fixed on Cassiopeia and was muttering nonstop under his breath.

"Counter curse" Moody said sternly 

Albus tried to smile, but one look from Amelia was enough 

"Do not even try Albus. It is not enough for a TEACHER not to kill your students, to remain here in this school!"

"He's doing something — jinxing the broom," said Hermione.

"I do not agree with anything Snape did or probably is going to do, but he wouldn't dare. I mean he would have been number one suspect and would risk too much. Snape supposed to be a Slytherin..no plan B, no risk. Add that Headmaster would figure him out fast enough. I do not blame you, however. As a matter of fact I understand why you thought it was him!" spoke Cassius 

"What should we do?"

"Leave it to me."

"What are you going to do?" asked Padma.

 

Before Ron could say another word, Hermione had disappeared. Ron turned the binoculars back on Cassiopeia. Her broom was vibrating so hard, it was almost impossible for her to hang on much longer. The whole crowd was on its feet, watching, terrified, as the Weasleys flew up to try and pull Cassi safely onto one of their brooms, but it was no good –

"Thanks for trying." Cassiopeia

"Of course." The twins answered

Molly was torn between feeling proud of her boys and totally scared for the situation 

every time they got near her, the broom would jump higher still. They dropped lower and circled beneath her, obviously hoping to catch her if she fell.

"Good job" complimented Arthur 

Marcus Flint seized the Quaffle and scored five times without anyone noticing.

"Bastard!" spat Collin

"Come on, Hermione," Ron muttered desperately.

 

Hermione had fought her way across to the stand where Snape stood, and was now racing along the row behind him; she didn't even stop to say sorry as she knocked Professor Quirrell headfirst into the row in front.

Moody's eyes both narrowed on the book. Could it be?

Reaching Snape, she crouched down, pulled out her wand, and whispered a few, well-chosen words. Bright blue flames shot from her wand onto the hem of Snape's robes.

The room went deathly quiet as everyone turned to look at Hermione.

Warrington looked at her in awe "Bloody hell...that was..that was something!"

"Something?? She set me on fire! Your Head of the House!"

"Correction, current Head of the House,soon  facing suspension. And I will remind you all that Miss Granger will not face any punishments for her past actions. Now be quiet!" Amelia said sharply 

"It is your own fault. Do you remember how you behaved with Cassi? " Andromeda shouted

"Severus, student to not see you as someone worthy of their trust. They see you as an enemy and you have only yourself to blame!" Minerva hissed, like an angry lion. 

 

"Yes, I was wrong and it was not you, Professor. Yet, I do not regret my action. It saved the life of my best friend. A human life. So yes, I would do it again!" Hermione found her voice, back strait.

Gryffindors cheered.

Cassiopeia and Ron were looking at her proudly, so were Sirius and Remus.

 

It took perhaps thirty seconds for Snape to realize that he was on fire.

The twins snorted

A sudden yelp told her she had done her job. Scooping the fire off him into a little jar in her pocket, she scrambled back along the row — Snape would never know what had happened.

"I do now" he sneered 

"Enough, Severus!" Albus raised his voice, looking sternly, no twinkle in his eyes 

It was enough. Up in the air, Cassiopeia was suddenly able to clamber back on to her broom.

"Thank Merlin." Molly let out a breath.

"Neville, you can look!" Ron said. Neville had been sobbing into Hagrid's jacket for the last five minutes.

"Thanks Nev," Cassi said with a smile.

Neville smiled back. "No problem, I was going to faint to be honest."

"I would too!" exclaimed Susan 

Cassiopeia was speeding toward the ground when the crowd saw her clap her hand to her mouth as though she was about to be sick

— she hit the field on all fours — coughed — and something gold fell into her hand.

"No way." Charlie whispered

Bill started laughing hard, shaking his head. Only Cassiopeia

Minerva looked like a proud mother of her pride, smiling widely 

I've got the Snitch!" she shouted,

"That's my seeker!" Oliver roared

waving it above her head, and the game ended in complete confusion.

Sirius could breathe again. He was so scared that he didn't even cheer for Gryffindor! 

"She didn't catch it, she nearly swallowed it," Flint was still howling twenty minutes later,

 

"Bitch...please..! muttered Dennis 

but it made no difference — Cassiopeia hadn't broken any rules and Lee Jordan was still happily shouting the results — Gryffindor had won by one hundred and seventy points to sixty.

Cassi heard none of this, though.

"Why not?" Bill asked, confused 

She was being made a cup of strong tea back in Hagrid's hut, with Ron and Hermione.

"Understood! he muttered 

"It was Snape," Ron was explaining,

"Hermione and I saw him. He was cursing your broomstick, muttering, he wouldn't take his eyes off you."

Rubbish," said Hagrid, who hadn't heard a word of what had gone on next to him in the stands. "Why would Snape do somethin' like that?"

"Oh, trust me..if the circumstances were different..he may have.." started Sirius 

"Sirius, please, I do not believe Severus is capable of such a thing!" Albus tried 

"Don't you? Help us Merlin! Old age finally catching, Albus?" Moody shouted angry 

By the look of it, Amelia, Tonks and Kingsley agreed with their old mentor.

Cassiopeia, Ron, and Hermione looked at one another, wondering what to tell him. Cass decided on the truth.

"I found out something about him," she told Hagrid. "He tried to get past that three-headed dog on Halloween. It bit him. We think he was trying to steal whatever it's guarding."

Hagrid dropped the teapot. "How do you know about Fluffy?" he said.

"Fluffy...bloody Fluffy?" Neville shouted.

"It has a name at all?" asked Tracey confused 

"FLUFFY?" Students shouted again

"Fluffy?"

"You see, they agreed with me" muttered Nevill 

"Yeah — he's mine — bought him off a Greek chappie I met in the pub las' year — I lent him to Dumbledore to guard the —"

"Hagrid." Sprout moaned.

Yes?" said Cassiopeia eagerly.

"Lily and James combined, ladies and gentlemen's" chuckled Sirius 

Snape heart pinned. "Lily.." he knew well, that his obsession wasn't healthy. But like an addict he couldn't quit his fantasy of them ending up together. Thats why he hated that girl so much..she was a  proof of Lily's choice. He didn't have one warm feeling about Cassiopeia Potter, but in his minute of weakness he gave the oath to protect those eyes.

"Now, don't ask me anymore," said Hagrid gruffly. "That's top secret, that is."

"Thats just calling for it, Hagrid" chuckled Ernie 

"But Snape's trying to steal it."

Snape glared at the trio.

"Rubbish," said Hagrid again. "Snape's a Hogwarts teacher, he'd do nothin' of the sort."

"That didn't stop the others, did it?" Ron muttered.

"Agree here, almost every teacher tried to kill me, us or steal something, or tortured us" Cassiopeia commented

Amelia was writing fast, her hands shaking. Oh..she is going to make them all answer!!

"So why did he just try and kill Cassiopeia?" cried Hermione.

The afternoon's events certainly seemed to have changed her mind about Snape.

"Of course it did! I almost had a heart attack myself" Mia yelled 

"I know a jinx when I see one, Hagrid, I've read all about them! You've got to keep eye contact, and Snape wasn't blinking at all, I saw him!"

"The same is true for counter curses." said Arthur, he didn't look too please to admit it though.

"Actually, there was nothing in our book about it. We only learned about the curses" Cassiopeia said, defending her friend.

"WHAT?! IT WAS IN YOUR COURSE!" Flitwick had enough, he was on his feet, face pale.

"The scum probably planned it" Sirius yelled 

"I'm tellin' yeh, yer wrong!" said Hagrid hotly. "I don' know why Cassi's broom acted like that, but Snape wouldn' try an' kill a student! Now, listen to me, all three of yeh — yer meddlin' in things that don' concern yeh.

"Like its going to stop them" Ginny murmured 

It's dangerous. You forget that dog, an' you forget what it's guardin', that's between Professor Dumbledore an' Nicolas Flamel —"

The teachers  all groaned.

"Hagrid!" Molly yelled in exasperation.

Hagrid looked embarrased 

"Aha!" said Cassiopeia, "so there's someone called Nicolas Flamel involved, is there?"

The adults groaned.

"Now they are going to try to find out about Flamel," moaned Minerva 

Hagrid looked furious with himself.

"As he should!" Molly said.

"That's the end." Remus said holding up the book, trying to calm his poor heart.

"I think I agree with the mutt. I am done reading for today." he muttered, while moving closer to his cub. 

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 14

 

"Well, that was a great chapter. I loved to hear about your first game, Cassi! Emm..without all the dangerous things of course!" exclaimed Collin.

"And our little know-it-all setting Snape on fire! My day is great!" agreed George, feeling happy!

The entire students populations were trying not laugh again. They weren't sure what is going to happen with the man, better not to irritate him more

Cassiopeia, however, wasn't in the mood. She was dreading the next chapter. Her heart desire will be read to the entire school and guests. More than anything she was afraid of their pity. She never wanted it.

"Cassi, what is it?" she heard Hermione gentle voice.

Next to her Ron was looking worried as well.

"It is the chapter..the mirror..I don't want it, I.." she whispered, trying to hold her own voice from breaking.

Both of her friends paled. 

"No..ohh..nooo.." Hermione almost sobbed. Cassiopeia had it so bad, so difficult, and now..Hermione was so angry. Angry with their Headmaster, with the Ministry and that bloody toad, but most of all Hermione was angry with herself. Cassiopeia needed her and she couldn't help her!

Before Mione could voice her protest, however, Ron roared to the entire Hall.

"The next chapter has nothing to do with anything. It is very private. Cassiopeia has a right to keep some things to herself. And it  no-one of your business. I suggest you bloody skip it! his face was famous Weasley red and his eyes glaring daggers.

"Absolutely not, Weasley! We will read every sentence of this book!!" sneered Umbridge

"You have no rights! We are reading the life of a person, a human being with her own feelings and emotions! Every single one of us allowed to have something private, something only for ourselves and people close to us!" Hermione yelled, angrily, her hands were shaking. 

Cassiopeia was silent. She refused to look at anyone. She hated it all. 

One look at her told her family all they needed to know. Something big will be mentioned. They didn't know what to do. If it was dangerous..they wanted to know. Yet, Ron's and Hermione's reactions..

"I agree with Granger. Cassiopeia is a person, not your poster-girl or toy. We stick our noses into someone else's life!" Adrian stated firmly, not liking the girl pale face one bit.

"You are not the authority here, Mr Pucey. I will read the chapter" Dolores said nastily. 

Before she could move and grab the book, Nevill's stern voice could be heard in the Hall ..

"I don't think you will. Accio book one! I will read the chapter." there was something akin determination in his eyes. His face firm, nothing giving away anything. He grabbed the book with force. 

Nevill knew.

Cassiopeia told him about the the mirror incident in her first year. He didn't need the conformation it was the one. Nevill saw it in her face. He went over to her, put a comforting hand on Cassi's shoulder. 

Cassiopeia raised her eyes and look into Nevill's kind, gentle one's. He gave her a sad smile, but she knew. In that moment she knew. If there was no way out of it, she knew Nevill was the right person to read it. Because Cassiopeia knew, Nevill won't show her pity or fake support.

Nevill understood. 

"I would prefer if it was Nevill..I want it to be Nevill." she tried to say it calm.

The adults felt so horrible, so heartbroken about it all. They felt like the only thing they were able to do is to fail them.

"Mister Longbottom it is." Minerva announced, her voice sharp and eyes hard. She sent a glare to Umbridge, daring the toad to say another word.

After an uncomfortable minute of silence, Nevill start to read.

"The Mirror of Erised,"

"What's that?" Several students asked.

 

"You will know soon enough!" snapped Hermione, her mood still bad.

Christmas was coming. One morning in mid-December, Hogwarts woke to find itself covered in several feet of snow. The lake froze solid and the Weasley twins were punished for bewitching several snowballs so that they followed Quirrell around, bouncing off the back of his turban.

Cassiopeia, Ron and Hermione exchange worried looks, which Remus noticed.

"What is all about..?"

"Boys, he was your teacher!" Molly admonished.

Ron snorted. "Some teacher he was..."he muttered bitterly 

The few owls that managed to battle their way through the stormy sky to deliver mail had to be nursed back to health by Hagrid before they could fly off again. No one could wait for the holidays to start.

While the Gryffindor common room and the Great Hall had roaring fires, the drafty corridors had become icy and a bitter wind rattled the windows in the classrooms. Worst of all were Professor Snape's classes down in the dungeons, where their breath rose in a mist before them and they kept as close as possible to their hot cauldrons.

 

"I do feel so sorry," said Draco Malfoy, one Potions class, "for all those people who have to stay at Hogwarts for Christmas because they're not wanted at home."

 

"You should never allow such a comment, Severus!" Flitwick stated firmly

Snape just ignore him. 

He was looking over at Cassiopeia as he spoke.

"Oh, I am sure Cassi was sooo disappointed. It is not like she wants to go there, Malfoy" Angelina said sarcastically 

"Spoiled brat" muttered Padma 

Crabbe and Goyle chuckled.

"But of course. Full sentences are not their thing really" Lily Moon said, rolling her eyes 

 who was measuring out powdered spine of lionfish, ignored them.

"Good, don't give them any reaction" Moody approved 

had been even more unpleasant than usual since the Quidditch match. Disgusted that the Slytherins had lost, he had tried to get everyone laughing at how a wide-mouthed tree frog would be replacing Cassiopeia as Seeker next.

"How dare you! You little dirty..." Oliver yelled. 

"He's just jealous," Ginny said.

"I am not I am an excellent seeker myself!" Malfoy shouted 

Slytherins snorted.

Student laughed hard.

Then he'd realized that nobody found this funny, because they were all so impressed at the way Cass had managed to stay on her bucking broomstick.

"Damn right! Thats my seeker"! Oliver announced proudly 

So Malfoy, jealous and angry, had gone back to taunting Cassiopeia about having no proper family.

The teachers all frowned. Why they never noticed?

"Pathetic, you are pathetic" Daphne said 

"Besides it isn't true. What are we for?" Ron said 

His family all nodded

"Thank you." Cassi said sincerely.

It was true that Cassiopeia wasn't going back to Privet Drive for Christmas. Professor McGonagall had come around the week before, making a list of students who would be staying for the holidays, and Cassiopeia had signed up at once. She didn't feel sorry for herself at all; this would probably be the best Christmas she'd ever had.

"That's really sad" whispered a first year Hufflepuff 

Ron and his brothers were staying, too, because Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were going to Romania to visit Charlie.

"And it was all better with our amazing selves present" Fred commented 

 

When they left the dungeons at the end of Potions, they found a large fir tree blocking the corridor ahead. Two enormous feet sticking out at the bottom and a loud puffing sound told them that Hagrid was behind it.

"Hi, Hagrid, want any help?" Ron asked, sticking his head through the branches.

 

"Roni! You are so polite, my good boy" cooed his mother

Ron's ears went pink. Boy was it embarrassing 

"Nah, I'm all right, thanks, Ron."

"Would you mind moving out of the way?" came Malfoy's cold drawl from behind them. "Are you trying to earn some extra money, Weasley? Hoping to be gamekeeper yourself when you leave Hogwarts, I suppose — that hut of Hagrid's must seem like a palace compared to what your family's used to."

Molly and Arthur were red. They felt so bad about it. 

Cassiopeia turned to glare at Malfoy.

"You know, I feel sorry for YOU. The only thing you have in your life is money. Money that you have no rights to boast about. You earned nothing. You do nothing. And yourself you are nothing." she spat, her voice icy.

 

The Weasley's smiled at her. 

Sirius and Remus felt proud.

"You are so very right, Cassiopeia" Andromeda announced loudly "Unfortunately, young Malfoy is his fathers son."

Ron dived at Malfoy just as Snape came up the stairs.

 

Students groaned.

"Brilliant, just what you needed" said Dean

WEASLEY!"

"He was provoked, Severus! You have to pay better attention to your own godchild and not to my House" Minerva said sharply 

Ron let go of the front of Malfoy's robes.

"He was provoked, Professor Snape," said Hagrid, sticking his huge hairy face out from behind the tree. "Malfoy was insultin' his family."

"Thanks for that, Hagrid" Ron said, smiling a bit 

"Be that as it may, fighting is against Hogwarts rules, Hagrid," said Snape silkily. "Five points from Gryffindor, Weasley, and be grateful it isn't more. Move along, all of you."

Minerva made an angry noise.

Dumbledore frowned. "Severus, I am very glad you respect our rules so much. Yet, Mister Malfoy deserved punishment as well"

Snape sneered "I did not hear Draco's words"

"I bet you didn't" muttered Seamus 

Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle pushed roughly past the tree, scattering needles everywhere and smirking.

"Bastards" muttered Theo

"I'll get him," said Ron, grinding his teeth at Malfoy's back, "one of these days, I'll get him —"

Draco smirked proudly.

"Stop smirking, before I make you." Adrian said grinding his teeth, like Ron in the book.

"I hate them both," said Cassiopeia, "Malfoy and Snape."

"Still do," Ron mumbled.

"Come on, cheer up, it's nearly Christmas," said Hagrid. "Tell yeh what, come with me an' see the Great Hall, looks a treat."

"The great hall really is beautiful during Christmas," Luna whispered, smiling her dream smile 

So the three of them followed Hagrid and his tree off to the Great Hall, where Professor McGonagall and Professor Flitwick were busy with the Christmas decorations.

"Ah, Hagrid, the last tree — put it in the far corner, would you?"

The hall looked spectacular. Festoons of holly and mistletoe hung all around the walls, and no less than twelve towering Christmas trees stood around the room, some sparkling with tiny icicles, some glittering with hundreds of candles.

Cassiopeia smiled remembering how beautiful the hall had looked.

"How many days you got left until yer holidays?" Hagrid asked.

"Just one," said Hermione. "And that reminds me — Cassiopeia, Ron, we've got half an hour before lunch, we should be in the library."

The Weasley twins looked shocked.

"Why, why? It is Christmas!?" George asked.

"There is nothing wrong with learning and reading books!" Molly reprimanded them. "It would do you two some good."

Fred and George looked repulsed at that.

"Oh yeah, you're right," said Ron, tearing his eyes away from Professor Flitwick, who had golden bubbles blossoming out of his wand and was trailing them over the branches of the new tree.

"WHAT? RON! HOW COULD YOU!" exclaimed Fred, looking offended at his brother.

Percy pursed his lips. "Well, at least Ronald tried to take care about his school career" he said

It was Ron's turn to look offended.

"The library?" said Hagrid, following them out of the hall. "Just before the holidays? Bit keen, aren't yeh?"

"Oh, we're not working," Cassi told him brightly.

"I don't like this ton of voice" Minerva muttered, remembering the Marauders 

Sirius smirked "Oh..I do like it"!

"Padfoot, we are talking about Cassiopeia, not us. You do realise what that means, right?" Remus asked, raising his eyebrow

Sirius was confused for a moment, before realising something "Oh..yesh, yes. I do not like it ether" 

"Ever since you mentioned Nicolas Flamel we've been trying to find out who he is."

"Told you so!" McGonagall exclaimed "Just like them! Just like them" she started to mutter 

"I take what I said back," Molly mumbled 

"You what?" Hagrid looked shocked. "Listen here — I've told yeh — drop it. It's nothin' to you what that dog's guardin'."

"Too late Hagrid." Remus sighed.

"Yahh. She takes after us too much" agreed Sirius 

"We just want to know who Nicolas Flamel is, that's all," said Hermione.

"Unless you'd like to tell us and save us the trouble?" Cassiopeia added. "We must've been through hundreds of books already and we can't find him anywhere — just give us a hint — I know I've read his name somewhere."

Everyone began to think and try to remember if they heard the name.

A seven year  Ravenclaws gasped in realisation.

"What is it,Henry" asked his friend

"Nothing, nothing. We should keep reading" he answered, not saying  a thing before he had some evidence.

Remus knew where she had read the name and just smiled.

"I'm sayin' nothin', said Hagrid flatly.

"Good, Hagrid. They need to stay away from that dog!" Molly announced 

"Just have to find out for ourselves, then," said Ron, and they left Hagrid looking disgruntled and hurried off to the library.

They had indeed been searching books for Flamel's name ever since Hagrid had let it slip, because how else were they going to find out what Snape was trying to steal?

Snape rolled his eyes. "I did not want that thing!" 

"Well, we didn't know it, did we? We were eleven and you didn't behave so trustworthy" Ron said back.

The trouble was, it was very hard to know where to begin, not knowing what Flamel might have done to get himself into a book.

 

"You could have asked me" Madam Pince said

"We weren't sure if you knew about the secret. If we asked it could have been suspicious"

"Good point. I wish you asked,though, Because I did know and I would have informed Albus" she confirmed 

He wasn't in Great Wizards of the Twentieth Century, or Notable Magical Names of Our Time; he was missing, too, from Important Modern Magical Discoveries, and A Study of Recent Developments in Wizardry.

Remus was mentally chuckling. 'he is exactly recent.."

And then, of course, there was the sheer size of the library; tens of thousands of books; thousands of shelves; hundreds of narrow rows.

"Beautiful..amaing" moaned Hermione

Cassiopeia and Ron rolled their eyes.

Hermione took out a list of subjects and titles she had decided to search while Ron strode off down a row of books and started pulling them off the shelves at random.

"That's actually not a bad system. They had no clue how to search. Might get lucky" said Sirius

Ron blushed

Cassiopeia wandered over to the Restricted Section. She had been wondering for a while if Flamel wasn't somewhere in there. Unfortunately, you needed a specially signed note from one of the teachers to look in any of the restricted books, and she knew she'd never get one.

"First year? I don't think so" agreed with Cassiopeia's thoughts Minerva 

The trio exchanged amused looks.

"We could have done with the git back then" Ron snickered 

These were the books containing powerful Dark Magic never taught at Hogwarts, and only read by older students studying advanced Defense Against the Dark Arts.

Ron snorted. "We would be lucky to have someone teaching us the basis and regular stuff about DADA. Bless you, Remus, and Cassi"

There where murmurs of agreement with Ron's statment

Umbrage glared, but was ignored by everyone.

"What are you looking for?"

"Nothing," said Cassi.

"I was suspicious. I mean I knew Black,Potter and Lupin..so could you blame me?"

Again, Fred and George frowned. They sounds a lot like Marauders. Did they know each other?

Madam Pince the librarian brandished a feather duster at her.

"You'd better get out, then. Go on — out!"

Wishing she'd been a bit quicker at thinking up some story, Cassi left the library. She, Ron, and Hermione had already agreed they'd better not ask Madam Pince where they could find Flamel. They were sure she'd be able to tell them, but they couldn't risk Snape hearing what they were up to.

The teachers all glared at Snape.

Cassiopeia waited outside in the corridor to see if the other two had found anything, but she wasn't very hopeful. They had been looking for two weeks, after all, but as they only had odd moments between lessons it wasn't surprising they'd found nothing. What they really needed was a nice long search without Madam Pince breathing down their necks.

Madam Pince gave a stern look to the trio. "Not going to happen" 

The trio smirked. 

Five minutes later, Ron and Hermione joined her, shaking their heads. They went off to lunch.

"You will keep looking while I'm away, won't you?" said Hermione. "And send me an owl if you find anything."

"Nope, sorry not going to happen." Charlie said, grinning 

"Oi Have some faith in us!" Ron shouted 

"I second that" shouted Cassiopeia

Ginny shot them a look. "Are you telling me that you two actually did look?"

They looked blankly at Ginny.

"Paint proven," Ginny said 

"And you could ask your parents if they know who Flamel is," said Ron. "It'd be safe to ask them."

"Very safe, as they're both dentists," said Hermione.

"What's a dentist?" Asked Cassius, curious about all Hermione related things 

"They are like healer for your teeth," Hermione said kindly, glad that a pureblood was showing interest in something not-wizards related.

Once the holidays had started, Ron and Cass were having too good a time to think much about Flamel.

Hermione sighed exasperated. 

Ginny and Charlie smirked.

They had the dormitories to themselves and the common room was far emptier than usual, so they were able to get the good armchairs by the fire. They sat by the hour eating anything they could spear on a toasting fork — bread, English muffins, marshmallows — and plotting ways of getting Malfoy expelled, which were fun to talk about even if they wouldn't work.

Draco shot Cassiopeia and Ron a filthy look.

 

Adrian and Tracey laughed loudly 

"I would love to see it" said Adrian

Ron also started teaching Cassiopeia wizard chess. This was exactly like Muggle chess except that the figures were alive, which made it a lot like directing troops in battle. Ron's set was very old and battered. Like everything else he owned, it had once belonged to someone else in his family — in this case, his grandfather. However, old chessmen weren't a drawback at all. Ron knew them so well he never had trouble getting them to do what he wanted.

"Ron's a genius at chess," Cassiopeia said fondly.

Ron blushed at the praise 

Cassiopeia played with chessmen Seamus Finnigan had lent her,

Ron and the twins glared at Seamus, it was well known he had a crush on Cassi.

and they didn't trust her at all. She wasn't a very good player yet and they kept shouting different bits of advice at her, which was confusing. "Don't send me there, can't you see his knight? Send him, we can afford to lose him."

"It was so annoying," Cassi mumbled.

On Christmas Eve, Cass went to bed looking forward to the next day for the food and the fun, but not expecting any presents at all.

Everyone sent her pitying looks.

Cassiopeia ignored them

Sirius and Remus felt a pang of gilt.

Molly had tears in her eyes. Poor dear, she didn't deserve such a life. If only she could..she would buy the world to all her children, Cassiopeia included. 

When she woke early in the morning, however, the first thing she saw was a small pile of packages at the foot of her bed.

Molly smiled. It was something at least.

Sirius and Remus silently promised to buy her a hundred next time.

"Happy Christmas," said Ron sleepily as Cassi scrambled out of bed and pulled on her bathrobe.

"Emm...you were in the same dorm?" asked Adrian, a bit unsure, his face blank

"Well, yeah..of course? We are siblings, so why not?" Cassiopeia asked confused 

Ron was looking at Adrian like he lost his mind. "Why wouldn't we?"

Cassius smirked "They were eleven, mate. They are family, calm yourself" he whispered 

"You, too," said Cassiopeia. "Will you look at this? I've got some presents!"

" How horrible that an eleven year old is shocked to get present" Amelia thought 

"What did you expect, turnips?" said Ron, turning to his own pile, which was a lot bigger than hers

Cassiopeia picked up the top parcel. It was wrapped in thick brown paper and scrawled across it was To Cassi, from Hagrid. Inside was a roughly cut wooden flute. Hagrid had obviously whittled it himself. Cassiopeia blew it — it sounded a bit like an owl.

Molly smiled up at Hagrid "Thank you, Hagrid"

He beamed back at her.

"It came in handy," Ron whispered.

A second, very small parcel contained a note. We received your message and enclose your Christmas present. From Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia. Taped to the note was a fifty-pence piece.

 

Many glared at the book.

Tonks had a nasty look on her face.

"That's friendly," said Cassi.

"I will show them what is friendly" Andromeda commented with a nasty grin on her face

Ron was fascinated by the fifty pence. "Weird!" he said, 'What a shape! This is money?"

The Weasley family started laughing.

"Really Ron I didn't know you were so much like dad." Bill said laughing.

His father beamed at him. Looking so proud, it made Ron's heart jump in his chest.

"I will give you some, Mister Weasley"  Cassi said, smiling fondly

Arthur looked exited.

"You can keep it," said Cassi, laughing at how pleased Ron was. "Hagrid and my aunt and uncle — so who sent these?"

"I think I know who that one's from," said Ron, turning a bit pink and pointing to a very lumpy parcel. "My mum. I told her you didn't expect any presents and — oh, no," he groaned, "she's made you a Weasley sweater."

"Those are my favourite gifts! I am looking forward to it every year!" Cassi exclaimed happily

Molly beamed. It was so good to see her smile

The Weasley family felt warm, glad she loved it. Glad she was one of them.

 

Cassi had torn open the parcel to find a thick, hand-knitted sweater in emerald green and a large box of homemade fudge.

Remus smiled at Molly.

"Thank you,Molly, truly.." whispered Sirius.

He knew Lily and James would be so grateful.

"Every year she makes us a sweater," said Ron, unwrapping his own, "and mine's always maroon."

"Ohh,Ron. I didn't know you don't like  it" Molly said sadly

"No, no. I love my sweater! Wouldn't change it for anything, mum. I was eleven and foolish."

His mother smiled, but promised to change the colour anyway"

"I am so proud, son. You showed us that you matured with the years" Arthur said gently

Ron felt so much happiness. That was all he ever wanted.

"That's really nice of her," said Cassi, trying the fudge, which was very tasty.

Molly gave a happy smile 

Her next present also contained candy — a large box of Chocolate Frogs from Hermione.

"Chocolate.." moaned Remus

Tonks smiled at him fondly.

There was another one, in a light blue paper with a note. Cassiopeia opened the letter first.

" Dear Cassiopeia.

It is my greatest regret that we have never met and you do not know me. My name is Andromeda Tonks nee Black. I am your ant, sort of. We are family, I want you to know that. I wanted to meet you, I wanted to know you, alas the circumstances were against it.

Yet, I have hope that you will want to get to know me as much, as I wish to get to know you. Please, know, that you can write me all the time, write me about everything and anything. 

I will try to arrange with Albus something, so we could meet in person one day soon.

 Minerva tells me you understood the problem which comes with our name, I hope one day you will be proud to be part of the Black family. Something tells me, you will be the one, who will clean our family and bring our name to it former glory.

With love,

Aunt Andy.

P.S. Hagrid told me you were interested in that book of curses. I hope you will enjoy it.

It was the book she wanted to buy. The book about curses. Cassiopeia felt exited. It wasn't about her gift, however. She had a family. Someone who wanted to know her. Someone out there, waiting for her replay.

"Of course I wanted to meet you. I wanted to raise you.." Andromeda whispered, sadly

"Andy, I understand. Malfoy senior would never let it go. If you had me..the Ministry would do everything in their power to remove me."

"Not to mention the death eaters would have the knowledge about your location" Amelia sigh sadly 

This only left one parcel. Cassiopeia picked it up and felt it. It was very light. She unwrapped it.

Something fluid and silvery gray went slithering to the floor where it lay in gleaming folds.

"The cloak." Sirius said quietly.

Ron gasped. "I've heard of those," he said in a hushed voice, dropping the box of Every Flavor Beans he'd gotten from Hermione.

"If that's what I think it is — they're really rare, and really valuable."

"What is it?" Several students asked.

Snape glared at the book.

Umbrage looked excited.

"What is it?" Cassiopeia picked the shining, silvery cloth off the floor. It was strange to the touch, like water woven into material.

"It's an invisibility cloak,"

"You have an invisibility cloak?" The hall shouted as one.

"Aha!" Umbridge shouted. "I demand it immediately!"

"Actually Madam Umbridge, that cloak is a Potter family heirloom and as such belongs to Cassiopeia. Family heirloom can not be confiscated," Dumbledore said eyes twinkling.

Umbrage looked disappointed. Alas, there was nothing she could do. The law was clear and it wasn't even illegal.

 

said Ron, a look of awe on his face. "I'm sure it is — try it on."

Cassiopeia threw the cloak around her shoulders and Ron gave a yell.

"It is! Look down!"

Cassi looked down at her feet, but they were gone. She dashed to the mirror. Sure enough, her reflection looked back at her, just her head suspended in midair,

 

"Wow.." mumbled Justin 

her body completely invisible.

"Very useful Potter," Moody grunted.

She pulled the cloak over her head and her reflection vanished completely.

"Imagine how many pranks you could have done.." Fred murmured 

Minerva groaned 

"There's a note!" said Ron suddenly. "A note fell out of it!"

Cassiopeia pulled off the cloak and seized the letter. Written in narrow, loopy writing she had never seen before were the following words:

"Albus, you gave that cloak?" Mcgonagall asked.

"It does belong to Cassiopeia and Cassiopeia only," Dumbledore said serenely.

Your father left this in my possession before he died.

 

It is time it was returned to you.

Use it well.

"Use it well, really..Albus?" moaned Minerva 

A Very Happy Christmas to you.

There was no signature. Cassiopeia stared at the note. Ron was admiring the cloak.

"I'd give anything for one of these," he said. "Anything. What's the matter?"

"Nothing," said Cassi. She felt very strange. Who had sent the cloak? Had it really once belonged to her father?

"Yes, and his father before him and so on" Sirius said.

 

"Must be very old.." muttered Zabini. 

Before she could say or think anything else, the dormitory door was flung open and Fred and George Weasley bounded in. Cass stuffed the cloak quickly out of sight.

"I can't believe you kept that from us." George said shaking his head.

"I am very glad you did" Molly said firmly

She didn't feel like sharing it with anyone else yet.

"I guess it is understandable" Fred muttered 

"Happy Christmas!"

"Hey, look — Cassi's got a Weasley sweater, too!"

Fred and George were wearing blue sweaters, one with a large yellow F on it, the other a G.

 

"Cassiopeia's is better than ours, though," said Fred, holding up Cassi's sweater. "She obviously makes more of an effort if you're not family."

"We were joking!" Fred and George said fast before their mother could get worked up about that comment

"Why aren't you wearing yours, Ron?" George demanded. "Come on, get it on, they're lovely and warm."

"I hate maroon," Ron moaned half-heartedly as he pulled it over his head.

"You haven't got a letter on yours," George observed. "I suppose she thinks you don't forget your name. But we're not stupid — we know we're called Gred and Forge."

Molly muttered something under her breath.

Sirius chuckled "You two are amazing!"

"We do try" sing sang twins in unison 

"What's all this noise?"

Percy Weasley stuck his head through the door, looking disapproving. He had clearly gotten halfway through unwrapping his presents as he, too, carried a lumpy sweater over his arm, which Fred seized.

"P for prefect!

"P for prat." Ron spat.

"Ronald!" Molly whispered sadly 

Percy turned red and looked down.

Get it on, Percy, come on, we're all wearing ours, even Cassi got one."

"I — don't — want —" said Percy thickly, as the twins forced the sweater over his head, knocking his glasses askew.

"And you're not sitting with the prefects today, either," said George. "Christmas is a time for family."

"Like he cares" Ginny mumbled.

They frog-marched Percy from the room, his arms pinned to his side by his sweater.

Cassiopeia had never in all her life had such a Christmas dinner. A hundred fat, roast turkeys; mountains of roast and boiled potatoes; platters of chipolatas; tureens of buttered peas, silver boats of thick, rich gravy and cranberry sauce –

Ron moaned "Food.."

Tracey looked fondly at him.

and stacks of wizard crackers every few feet along the table.

These fantastic party favors were nothing like the feeble Muggle ones the Dursleys usually bought, with their little plastic toys and their flimsy paper hats inside. Cassiopeia pulled a wizard cracker with Fred and it didn't just bang, it went off with a blast like a cannon and engulfed them all in a cloud of blue smoke, while from the inside exploded a rear admiral's hat and several live, white mice. Up at the High Table, Dumbledore had swapped his pointed wizard's hat for a flowered bonnet,

"Mental," Ron murmured.

and was chuckling merrily at a joke Professor Flitwick had just read him.

Flaming Christmas puddings followed the turkey. Percy nearly broke his teeth on a silver sickle embedded in his slice.

The twins laughed

Cassi watched Hagrid getting redder and redder in the face as he called for more wine,

Remus shook his head.

finally kissing Professor McGonagall on the cheek, who, to Cassi's amazement, giggled and blushed, her top hat lopsided.

The students chuckled 

McGonagall looked faintly embarrassed.

Hagrid was red for a different reasons now

When Cassiopeia finally left the table, she was laden down with a stack of things out of the crackers, including a pack of nonexplodable, luminous balloons, a Grow-Your-Own-Warts kit, and her own new wizard chess set.

 

"And I am still horrible at it" Cassi said

The white mice had disappeared and Cassiopeia had a nasty feeling they were going to end up as Mrs. Norris's Christmas dinner.

Cassiopeia and the Weasleys spent a happy afternoon having a furious snowball fight on the grounds.

"That was fun," Cassi said.

"Yeah, and we won," Ron said smugly.

The twins snorted.

Then, cold, wet, and gasping for breath, they returned to the fire in the Gryffindor common room, where Cassi broke in her new chess set by losing spectacularly to Ron.

"I always lose to Ron," Cassiopeia sighed.

"Who doesn't?" Hermione asked 

She suspected she wouldn't have lost so badly if Percy hadn't tried to help her so much.

"I was only trying to help!" muttered Percy 

"Hmm..I know, sorry" Cassi tried to be polite, for Molly's sake

After a meal of turkey sandwiches, crumpets, trifle, and Christmas cake, everyone felt too full and sleepy to do much before bed except sit and watch Percy chase Fred and George all over Gryffindor tower because they'd stolen his prefect badge.

The students chuckled.

Percy was now glaring at the twins who glared right back.

It had been Cassiopeia's best Christmas day ever.

 

"It shouldn't have been..if only James and Lily.." Sirius thought

Yet something had been nagging at the back of her mind all day. Not until she climbed into bed was she free to think about it: the invisibility cloak and whoever had sent it.

McGonagall looked sharply  at Dumbledore.

Albus just smiled happily.

Ron, full of turkey and cake and with nothing mysterious to bother him, fell asleep almost as soon as he'd drawn the curtains of his four-poster. Cassiopeia leaned over the side of Nevill's bed and pulled the cloak out from under it.

Her father's… this had been her father's. She let the material flow over her hands, smoother than silk, light as air. Use it well, the note had said.

"Really Albus, you shouldn't have said it"! Professor Sprout shook her head

She had to try it, now.

The teachers and adults groaned.

"You shouldn't be out of bed at night," piped Umbridge 

"Dolores..do I need to use a silence charm?" growled Amelia

She slipped out of bed and wrapped the cloak around herself. Looking down at her legs, she saw only moonlight and shadows. It was a very funny feeling.

Use it well.

"Oh..noooo, noon. Why it is always me and troublemakers? " Minerva muttered 

Suddenly, Cassiopeia felt wide-awake.

"And here it is," Remus said sighing.

The whole of Hogwarts was open to her in her cloak.

The teachers were now all sending sharp looks

Excitement flooded through her as she stood there in the dark and silence. She could go anywhere in this, anywhere, and Filch would never know.

Filch was glaring daggers. "I do now," he muttered.

Ron grunted in his sleep. Should Cassi wake him? Something held her back — her father's cloak — she felt that this time — the first time — she wanted to use it alone.

"Don't worry about it mate, I would have done the same," Ron reassured

She crept out of the dormitory, down the stairs, across the common room, and climbed through the portrait hole.

"Who's there?" squawked the Fat Lady.

Remus starting chuckling. "Nobody ever tells her."

"How many times we did that.." Sirius murmured

Cassiopeia said nothing.

"My point exactly" chuckled Remus 

She walked quickly down the corridor. Where should she go?

"Back to your own bad, Cassiopeia" Molly Weasley said motherly 

She stopped, her heart racing, and thought. And then it came to her. The Restricted Section in the library.

Madam Pince glared at Cassiopeia.

 

She'd be able to read as long as she liked, as long as it took to find out who Flamel was.

"Did you?" Susan asked

"No, not there" Cassi answered

She set off, drawing the invisibility cloak tight around her as she walked.

The library was pitch-black and very eerie. Cassiopeia lit a lamp to see her way along the rows of books. The lamp looked as if it was floating along in midair, and even though Cassi could feel her arm supporting it, the sight gave her the creeps.

Hannah shivered.

"That would be creepy," muttered Ernie.

The Restricted Section was right at the back of the library. Stepping carefully over the rope that separated these books from the rest of the library,

 

"I really don't like the idea of first year student in that section" Madam Pince said sharply 

she held up her lamp to read the titles.

They didn't tell her much. Their peeling faded gold letters spelled words in languages Cassiopeia couldn't understand. Some had no title at all. One book had a dark stain on it that looked horribly like blood.

"That is nasty," Lavender squealed.

"That is disgusting" murmured Terry

The hairs on the back of Cassiopeia's neck prickled. Maybe she was imagining it, maybe not, but she thought a faint whispering was coming from the books, as though they knew someone was there who shouldn't be.

"Good girl, pay attention to your feeling." Moody said, impressed.

She had to start somewhere. Setting the lamp down carefully on the floor, she looked along the bottom shelf for an interesting looking book. A large black and silver volume caught her eye. She pulled it out with difficulty, because it was very heavy, and, balancing it on her knee, let it fall open.

A piercing, bloodcurdling shriek split the silence — the book was screaming!

Several people winced.

"You have the worst luck," Seamus mumbled 

Cassiopeia snapped it shut, but the shriek went on and on, one high, unbroken, ear-splitting note. She stumbled backward and knocked over her lamp, which went out at once.

Panicking, she heard footsteps coming down the corridor outside — stuffing the shrieking book back on the shelf, she ran for it.

"Good, get out of there" agreed Molly

She passed Filch in the doorway; Filch's pale, wild eyes looked straight through her, and Cassiopeia slipped under Filch's outstretched arm and streaked off up the corridor,  the book's shrieks still ringing in her ears.

She came to a sudden halt in front of a tall suit of armor. She had been so busy getting away from the library, she hadn't paid attention to where she was going.

"Thats why you need to practice CONSTANT VIGILANCE!" Moody yelled.

Some students jumped

Perhaps because it was dark, she didn't recognize where she was at all. There was a suit of armor near the kitchens, she knew, but she must be five floors above there.

"Why I am not surprised you know where the kitchens are..?" chuckled Tonks

"I am glad she does! She is our noble heiress after all" Sirius exclaimed proudly

Remus rolled his eyes fondly. 

"You asked me to come directly to you, Professor, if anyone was wandering around at night, and somebody's been in the library Restricted Section."

"Let me guess..Snape?" asked Adrian, looking softly at the girl

"Yep, thats my luck for you" Cassiopeia answered 

Cassi felt the blood drain out of her face. Wherever she was, Filch must know a shortcut, because his soft, greasy voice was getting nearer, and to her horror, it was Snape who replied, "The Restricted Section? Well, they can't be far, we'll catch them."

"And I would have caught you if you didn't have a blasted invisibility cloak." Snape snarled.

"But you didn't, did you?" sneered Sirius 

Cassiopeia stood rooted to the spot as Filch and Snape came around the corner ahead. They couldn't see her , of course, but it was a narrow corridor and if they came much nearer they'd knock right into her — the cloak didn't stop her from being solid.

"That would be cool if it did," Cassiopeia said wistfully.

She backed away as quietly as she could. A door stood ajar to her left. It was her only hope. She squeezed through it, holding her breath, trying not to move it, and to her relief she managed to get inside the room without their noticing anything. They walked straight past, and Cassiopeia leaned against the wall, breathing deeply, listening to their footsteps dying away.

"I don't know why but somehow I don't like it..something is going to happen" Remus murmured worriedly 

"It is Cassiopeia..something always happens" said Dean

Remus didn't feel any better.

That had been close, very close. It was a few seconds before she noticed anything about the room she had hidden in.

"At least there was no dog in the room" Fred said, trying to joke 

His mother glared at him. Molly had a horrible feeling, call it a mother instinct, but something was coming.

It looked like an unused classroom. The dark shapes of desks and chairs were piled against the walls, and there was an upturned wastepaper basket – but propped against the wall facing him was something that didn't look as if it belonged there, something that looked as if someone had just put it there to keep it out of the way.

It was a magnificent mirror, as high as the ceiling, with an ornate gold frame, standing on two clawed feet. There was an inscription carved around the top: Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi.

"Oh..no,Cassi" whispered Luna, shaking her head sadly

"What is it?" Terry asked her curiously 

Luna had tears in her eyes. She reused to answer. Her serene expression was gone. 

Remus's eyes widened. He realized what the words meant.

Heart's desire.

He knew exactly what that mirror would show to Cassiopeia. His heart broke

Sirius, who wasn't as silly as he liked to pretend, catch on pretty quickly and gave a low moan of dread.

"I show not your face but your hearts desire." Cassiopeia translated for the rest.

 

Her panic fading now that there was no sound of Filch and Snape, Cassiopeia moved nearer to the mirror, wanting to look at herself but see no reflection again.

She stepped in front of it.

She had to clap her hands to her mouth to stop herself from screaming.

"What?" Molly asked frantically. "It wasn't supposed to be dangerous! It is just a mirror, right..it shows what you dream of.." she stopped suddenly. Her face white in horror, she clapped her hand over her mouth. She finally realised what an eleven year orphan girl would have seen. 

The atmosphere was very tense.

She whirled around. Her heart was pounding far more furiously than when the book had screamed — for she had seen not only herself in the mirror, but a whole crowd of people standing right behind her.

"But you were alone in there, weren't you?" Astoria asked.

"Oh, I was.." Cassi whishpered 

But the room was empty. Breathing very fast, she turned slowly back to the mirror.

There she was, reflected in it, white and scared-looking, and there, reflected behind her, were at least ten others. Cassiopeia looked over her shoulder — but still, no one was there. Or were they all invisible, too? Was she in fact in a room full of invisible people and this mirror's trick was that it reflected them, invisible or not?

She looked in the mirror again. A woman standing right behind her reflection was smiling at her and waving.

Snape eyes were wide in horror. "Lily..she saw her mother? But how could she? It wasn't glory or fame she wanted the most?"

She reached out a hand and felt the air behind her. If she was really there, she'd touch her, their reflections were so close together, but she felt only air – she and the others existed only in the mirror.

Minerva sobbed. She couldn't stop herself. No child should see their parents like this..no child should have such a desire! They must be able to have their family, solid and real.

Molly's eyes were red. She was torn between crying hysterically, running over to Cassiopeia and murdering Albus for bringing that damn mirror.

She was a very pretty woman. She had dark red hair and her eyes —her eyes are just like mine,

Snape drew back into his chair,he was ready to faint. Those eyes..their hunted him in his dreams. 

He saw her too. The only time he looked in that mirror..he saw Lily and himself. They were ten years old all over again. Before Hogwarts, their different houses. before Potter and most important before his horrible mistake. He wanted to travel back in time. The only time he ever felt happiness.

"Lily." Flitwick said sadly.

No one could say a word. Not a single student. They were siting there, feeling absolutely horrible. Ron was right. It was no-one of their business. It was so wrong to intrude into such a private moment.

For the first time in years, Oliver Wood had tears not related to his games. His heart felt. He would have seem himself as the best keeper, the winer of the National team..but in this exact moment, he couldn't bring himself to care about bloody Quidditch.

Adrian desperatly wanted to comfort her. To hold her hand and say some gentle words. But looking over he saw her two best friends doing just that. He knew it wasn't his place. Not yet.

Nevill shot a look of pure hate to Umbridge. He continued with the chapter, but his voice was so low and soft, full of care and love.

Cassiopeia thought, edging a little closer to the glass. Bright green — exactly the same shape, but then she noticed that she was crying; smiling, but crying at the same time.

Molly was sobbing so hard, she couldn't form a sentence. Her husband trying to comfort her, but looking so lost, his hands shaking.

"I am sure she had tears of happiness and proudness, seeing you, seeing a beautiful person her girl is " whishpered Andromeda, her own voice breaking. 

Her daughetr looking right in her eyes, with the tears and gratitude. Gratitude that she had her mother with her. In a moment like this one, you really understand how incredibly lucky you are.

Cassiopeia didn't speak. She tried to keep her face blank, her eyes focus on her hands.

The tall, thin, black-haired man standing next to her put his arm around her. He wore glasses, and his hair was very untidy. It stuck up at the back, just as Cassi's did.

"James." whispered Sirius in cracked voice. You could feel the pain coming from one Sirius Black. His eyes dull, face turning light blue.

"How could we not see it..he would rather die before he betrayed James" Amelia thought, feeling horrible herself. She looked at Susan.

Her nice was white face, hands playing with her ribbon absently. Susan was an orphan. She knew the feeling. Her young, innocent and beautiful nice..what would she see in the mirror?

Cassiopeia was so close to the mirror now that her nose was nearly touching that of her reflection.

"Mum?" he whispered. "Dad?"

"You didn't even know what they looked like?" Bill asked horrified.

Cassiopeia shook her head sadly.

"Those awful people!" Professor Vector said with hatred 

"Thats why you asked for the pictures, Hagrid?" Remus asked the man sadly

Hagrid nodded, his face sad, eyes shining with tears.

They just looked at him, smiling. And slowly, Cassiopeia looked into the faces of the other people in the mirror, and saw other pairs of green eyes like her, other noses like her, even a little old man who looked as though he had Cassi's knobbly knees — Cassiopeia was looking at her family, for the first time in her life.

Angelina, Katie and Alicia were crying hard.

Gryffindors were glaring at the toad. They wanted it all to stop. 

 Fred and George could not come up with anything funny to say. In fact they both looked unnaturally serious if not ready to cry themselves.

Even Severus Snape had no nasty comment. He looked almost dead himself.

'I can't imagine not knowing what my own parents looked like." Ernie murmured to Justin

"Make me want to hurt those muggles even more. At the very least her bloody aunt could give Cassi some photos. How heartless could one get?" Justin whispered sadly 

Their Head of the House was probably thinking the same. Her face changing from sad and broken, to furious.

"I will pay those people a little visit" she hissed to Minerva

Her long time friend answered with venom "Count me in!"

The Potters smiled and waved at Cassiopeia and she stared hungrily back at them, her hands pressed flat against the glass as though she was hoping to fall right through it and reach them.

Nevill sighed sadly. He paused and look right into his god sister eyes. No words were spoken between them.

But the thing is. No-one needed their words anymore. Each person (no toads and spoiled brats) finally got it. Thats why she wanted it to be Nevill.

Because Nevill knew. Nevill, kind, shy and calm Nevill, he would have seen the same thing. It was compassion from him, not pity.

It was an understanding.

Susan joined them in that silent eye-looking conversation. They smiled sadly to each other.

Because Susan Bones was an orphan.   Because Susan Bones got it too.

She had a powerful kind of ache inside her, half joy, half terrible sadness.

"That mirror isn't good for you," Bill said sadly 

"Bill..stop it" Ron snapped "You couldn't possible understand. I know I didn't back then

Hermione glared at everyone and no-one in particular. "It is not that easy, you know!" she exclaimed 

Cassi sighed. "This was years ago. I know it now"

How long she stood there, she didn't know. The reflections did not fade and she looked and looked until a distant noise brought her back to her senses. She couldn't stay here, she had to find her way back to bed. She tore her eyes away from his mother's face, whispered, "I'll come back," and hurried from the room.

"Oh, Cassi I know how hard it must be for you but this mirror is dangerous, people got lost there" Remus whispered, voice full of grief 

"Indeed it is very easy to become obsessed with the mirror's reflection." Dumbledore said

"You could have woken me up," said Ron, crossly.

"I take it back" Ron murmured

"You can come tonight, I'm going back, I want to show you the mirror."

"I'd like to see your mom and dad," Ron said eagerly.

"Unfortunately  it doesn't work that way," Albus said quietly 

"And I want to see all your family, all the Weasleys, you'll be able to show me your other brothers and everyone."

"You can see them any old time," said Ron. "Just come round my house this summer. Anyway, maybe it only shows dead people.

"Ron!" Hermione yelled

"You have no tact!" Ginny said glaring at Ron.

Shame about not finding Flamel, though. Have some bacon or something, why aren't you eating anything?"

"Oh Cassi, my dear,, you stopped eating.." Molly muttered. still crying 

Cassiopeia couldn't eat. She had seen her parents and would be seeing them again tonight. She had almost forgotten about Flamel. It didn't seem very important anymore. Who cared what the three headed dog was guarding? What did it matter if Snape stole it, really?

"That's not good," Kingsley said quietly.

"It is the mirror. It was affecting Cassiopeia very fast and very strong. I was very worried when I discovered her there" Albus said gravely

"Are you all right?" said Ron. "You look odd."

What Cassiopeia feared most was that she might not be able to find the mirror room again. With Ron covered in the cloak, too, they had to walk much more slowly the next night. They tried retracing Cassi's route from the library, wandering around the dark passageways for nearly an hour.

"I'm freezing," said Ron. "Let's forget it and go back."

"Yes, do that." muttered Dean.

"No!" Cassiopeia hissed. "I know it's here somewhere."

They passed the ghost of a tall witch gliding in the opposite direction, but saw no one else. just as Ron started moaning that his feet were dead with cold, Cassiopeia spotted the suit of armor.

"It's here — just here — yes!"

"No, not yes. Not yes..." Minerva sobbed 

They pushed the door open. Cassiopeia dropped the cloak from around her shoulders and ran to the mirror.

There they were. Her mother and father beamed at the sight of her.

"Poor Cassiopeia." Astoria said quietly dabbing at her eyes.

See?" Cassiopeia whispered.

"I can't see anything."

"Look! Look at them all… there are loads of them…"

"I can only see you."

"Look in it properly, go on, stand where I am."

Cassiopeia stepped aside, but with Ron in front of the mirror, she couldn't see her family anymore, just Ron in his paisley pajamas.

Ron, though, was staring transfixed at his image.

"Look at me!" he said.

"Can you see all your family standing around you?"

"Ron's desire can be different." Charlie said quietly.

"No — I'm alone — but I'm different — I look older — and I'm head boy!"

Percy looked surprised and proud.

"I take it all back. Non of it matters" Ron said matter of factly 

 

 

"There's nothing wrong with being head boy," Bill said, trying to reassure his brother

"No, it is not. However, it is not my greatest goal. And the badge itself was not my desire" Ron muttered sternly

The Weasley's looked worried

"What?"

"I am — I'm wearing the badge like Bill used to — and I'm holding the house cup and the Quidditch cup — I'm Quidditch captain, too."

"Better..but still" snorted Smith

Cassiopeia shot him a look. "I would shut uo if I where you" she said dangerously 

Ron tore his eyes away from this splendid sight to look excitedly at Cassiopeia. "Do you think this mirror shows the future?"

 

"How can it? All my family are dead — let me have another look —"

"You had it to yourself all last night, give me a bit more time."

"Dear Merlin! This mirror is more dangerous than some deadly spells!" Amelia yelled

"I agree, Albus, you must have a good reason for it, however I cannot condone to keep such a danger in the school full of young children" Andromeda spoke sharply 

"You're only holding the Quidditch cup, what's interesting about that? I want to see my parents."

"Don't push me —"

"It's causing you two to fight," Arthur sighed.

A sudden noise outside in the corridor put an end to their discussion.

They hadn't realized how loudly they had been talking.

"Quick!"

Ron threw the cloak back over them as the luminous eyes of Mrs. Norris came round the door.

"I hate that cat,I really do. But right now I want to thank her" George said quietly.

Ron and Cassiopeia stood quite still, both thinking the same thing — did the cloak work on cats?

"It should." Hermione said.

After what seemed an age, she turned and left.

"This isn't safe — she might have gone for Filch, I bet she heard us. Come on."

And Ron pulled Cassiopeia out of the room.

The snow still hadn't melted the next morning.

"Want to play chess, Cassi?" said Ron

"No."

"Why don't we go down and visit Hagrid?"

"No… you go…"

"I know what you're thinking about, Cassiopeia, that mirror. Don't go back tonight."

"Good, listen to Ron, Cassi!" Luna said, her voice gentle, but firm.

"Why not?"

"I dunno, I've just got a bad feeling about it — and anyway, you've had too many close shaves already.

"Good boy, Weasley! Do not underestimate your instincts! and Hold your friend back when needed" praised him Moody. He didn't like this mirror one bit. Never saw and never wanted to see.

Filch, Snape, and Mrs. Norris are wandering around. So what if they can't see you? What if they walk into you? What if you knock something over?"

"You sound like Hermione."

"Not a bad thing for ether of you!" Minerva said looking at her two lions

Ron smirked and muttered "second book...we will see"

"I'm serious, Cassiopeia, don't go."

But Cassiopeia only had one thought in her head, which was to get back in front of the mirror, and Ron wasn't going to stop her.

Remus shook his head sadly. "It was working so fast, like you had this pull to go..I don't want to think what could have happen to you, Cassiopeia"

That third night she found her way more quickly than before. She was walking so fast she knew she was making more noise than was wise, but she didn't meet anyone.

And there were her mother and father smiling at her again, and one of her grandfathers nodding happily. Cassiopeia  sank down to sit on the floor in front of the mirror. There was nothing to stop her from staying here all night with her family. Nothing at all.

"Please..please, somebody find her" muttered Sirius. 

He understood, he really did. Sirius would give everything to see James..and Lily. But not like this. No.

 

Except —

"So — back again, Cassiopeia?"

"Thank goodness," Molly said sighing.

Cassiopeia felt as though her insides had turned to ice. She looked behind her. Sitting on one of the desks by the wall was none other than Albus Dumbledore. Cassiopeia  must have walked straight past him, so desperate to get to the mirror she hadn't noticed him.

"And wasn't it strange? You are very observant, the book proved it to us. That mirror was making you behave like an addict" muttered Mad-eye 

"I — I didn't see you, sir."

"Strange how nearsighted being invisible can make you," said Dumbledore, and Cassiopeia was relieved to see that he was smiling.

 

Minerva, however, didn't. She was glaring openly at Albus.

"So," said Dumbledore, slipping off the desk to sit on the floor with Cassiopeia, "you, like hundreds before you, have discovered the delights of the Mirror of Erised."

Justin snorted. "I wouldn't exactly call it a delight. It was mentally killing her" He muttered to Ernie.

Ernie nodded in agreement.

"I didn't know it was called that, Sir."

"But I expect you've realized by now what it does?"

"It — well — it shows me my family —"

"And it showed your friend Ron himself as head boy."

 

"How did you know —?"

"Dumbledore always knows," Cassiopeia answered to her own question.

Albus has his usual eyes-twinkle 

"I don't need a cloak to become invisible," said Dumbledore gently.

 

"Hm..thats interesting. So why did he need James's cloak"?

"Now, can you think what the Mirror of Erised shows us all?"

Cassiopeia shook his head.

Adrian sighed. He was so heartbroken for her. He wanted Cassiopeia to feel happy, to see her family. But the mirror..she wouldn't be here now. If only he could find more pictures for her..something, anything. He thought desperately to himself 

"Let me explain. The happiest man on earth would be able to use the Mirror of Erised like a normal mirror, that is, he would look into it and see himself exactly as he is. Does that help?"

Cassiopeia thought. Then she said slowly, "It shows us what we want…whatever we want…"

'I wonder what I would see?' Adrian thought, looking at Cassiopeia's beautiful face.

Maybe himself with her? And their friends and family all together, alive, healthy without any danger. Just that..laugh and happines

"Yes and no," said Dumbledore quietly. "It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts. You, who have never known your family, see them standing around you. Ronald Weasley, who has always been overshadowed by his brothers, sees himself standing alone, the best of all of them."

All of the Weasley's turned to Ron shocked.

"Oh Ron," Molly sobbed.

"Ron, you are you..You don't have to try to live up to anyone. No-one is perfect and you don't have to be" Arthur said gently

Ron smiled a little. "Thank you. And I do know it. I told you. It is not my desire anymore and I don't need the mirror to know it."

The mirror will be moved to a new home tomorrow, Cassiopeia, and I ask you not to go looking for it again. If you ever do run across it, you will now be prepared.

"I do not like the sound of that, Albus" Amelia shot him a warning look

It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that. Now, why don't you put that admirable cloak back on and get off to bed?"

"You aren't going to punish her?" Umbridge asked 

"Dolores, I believe she had suffered enough." Albus sated firmly

 

Cassiopeia stood up. "Sir — Professor Dumbledore? Can I ask you something?"

"Obviously, you've just done so," Dumbledore smiled. "You may ask me one more thing, however."

"What do you see when you look in the mirror?"

Remus shook his head. "Like a father like a daughter"

"Well, lets be fair for a moment, shall we. Nothing against you, Headmaster, but you did know what they saw. So..her question is understandable" Adrian hurried to defend her

Cassiopeia felt warm in her chest. It was nice, she liked the feeling. 

 

Dumbledore smiled too "I know, Mister Pucey, I did not hold it against Cassiopeia"

"I? I see myself holding a pair of thick, woolen socks."

The hall turned to look at Dumbledore as though he'd lost his mind.

Cassiopeia chuckled

"Ah, yes. My dear girl, thank you for sending me my new pair. I like the ones with lemon drops all over" Albus beamed

The teacher looked like they saw Cassiopeia and Dumbledore both dancing macarena on the top of the Astronomy tower.

Cassiopeia stared.

"One can never have enough socks," said Dumbledore. "Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn't get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books."

It was only when she was back in bed that it struck Cassiopeia that Dumbledore might not have been quite truthful. But then, she thought, as she shoved Scabbers off her pillow, it had been quite a personal question.

"Yes it was," Molly said.

"She was eleven, mum!" Ron muttered 

"That is the end of the chapter." Nevill said, looking like a mountain felt from his shoulders.

"Well..that was..I mean!" started Collin

"Moving on! I will read the next one!" Hermione hurried. Cassiopeia doesn't need the entire Hall discussing the chapter. It was heartbroken enough. She won't allow them!

Ron and Nevill nodded. They straightened their backs and look around, eyes sharp, wands in hands. 

No word was spoken.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 15

"Nicholas Flamel." Hermione read out to the hall.

"You guys finally find out who he is!" Parvati said excitedly.

The trio exchanged amused smiled.

Dumbledore had convinced Cassiopeia not to go looking for the Mirror of Erised again,

"Thanks Merlin," Remus said quietly.

and for the rest of the Christmas holidays the invisibility cloak stayed folded at the bottom of her trunk.

"Cassiopeia! It was a crime!!" The twins yelled shocked.

"We could have so much fun and terrorize the teachers." George added.

"Absolutely not! No, don't you dare!!" yelled their mother

 

Cassiopeia wished she could forget what she'd seen in the mirror as easily, but she couldn't. She started having nightmares.

"And you didn't tell us," Ron muttered,sending her a look "We will talk about it" he murmured

Nevill looked worried as well.

Over and over again she dreamed about her parents disappearing in a flash of green light, while a high voice cackled with laughter.

Remus and Sirius both internally cringed.

Snape kept his mask. But inside..he was burning. His precious Lily..

Dumbledore looked at his Professor sadly. Lily was not the only victim in all this. "Pity the living, not the dead"

Severus must find his heart somewhere or else...

"You see, Dumbledore was right, that mirror could drive you mad," said Ron, when Cassiopeia told him about these dreams.

"Yet, you didn't tell me what those dreams were."Ron said sadly 

"Ron..I didn't want you to worry, you know that, right?" Cassi tried to reassure him

Hermione, who came back the day before term started, took a different view of things. She was torn between horror at the idea of Cassi being out of bed,

"Of course," Cassius smiled fondly

Hermione blushed 

roaming the school three nights in a row ("If Filch had caught you!"), and disappointment that she hadn't at least found out who Nicolas Flamel was.

"I didn't know about those dreams" Hermione muttered, before continuing with her chapter

 

They had almost given up hope of ever finding Flamel in a library book, even though Cassiopeia was still sure she'd read the name somewhere.

"Bloody chocolate frog card," Ron mumbled.

Once term had started, they were back to skimming through books for ten minutes during their breaks. Cassi had even less time than the other two, because Quidditch practice had started again.

Oliver smiled.

Wood was working the team harder than ever. Even the endless rain that had replaced the snow couldn't dampen his spirits. The Weasleys complained that Wood was becoming a fanatic,

"He was." Alicia, Angelina, Katie, Fred and George said in unison 

but Cassiopeia was on Wood's side.

"Cassiopeia! How could you..?" exclaimed Alicia 

"I pity those folks..on her team" murmured Terry

 

If they won their next match, against Hufflepuff, they would overtake Slytherin in the house championship for the first time in seven years. Quite apart from wanting to win, Cassiopeia found that she had fewer nightmares when she was tired out after training.

"Oh," Angelina murmured sadly.

Katie started to cry again. The last chapter still affecting her a lot.

Then, during one particularly wet and muddy practice session, Wood gave the team a bit of bad news. He'd just gotten very angry with the Weasleys, who kept dive-bombing each other and pretending to fall off their brooms.

"That's no way to behave during practice!" Charlie exclaimed.

Bill rolled his eyes "Those fanatics.."

"Will you stop messing around!" he yelled. "That's exactly the sort of thing that'll lose us the match! Snape's refereeing

"Bloody shit!" yelled Sirius

"Mister Black! Mind your language! You are not too old to get out from my detention, yet!" McGonagall shouted 

 

this time, and he'll be looking for any excuse to knock points off Gryffindor!"

"Biased git." Collin muttered.

George Weasley really did fall off his broom at these words.

"Well who could blame him?," Lee muttered.

"Snape's refereeing?" he spluttered through a mouthful of mud. "When's he ever refereed a Quidditch match? He's not going to be fair if we might overtake Slytherin."

Snape sneered. 

Draco smiled nasty " Professor Snape is.."

"Shut it, Malfoy. You can practice your ass kissing skills in private" Zabini muttered 

The rest of the team landed next to George to complain, too.

"It's not my fault," said Wood. "We've just got to make sure we play a clean game, so Snape hasn't got an excuse to pick on us."

Ron snorted. "Like that would stop him.

Which was all very well, thought Cassiopeia, but she had another reason for not wanting Snape near her while she was playing Quidditch…

"Why?" Crabbed asked all of the sudden

Tracey looked at him like he had three heads

"How stupid could one get?"

"I really don't know..I really don't" agreed Higgs

The rest of the team hung back to talk to one another as usual at the end of practice, but Cassiopeia headed straight back to the Gryffindor common room, where she found Ron and Hermione playing chess.

Chess was the only thing Hermione ever lost at, something Cassiopeia and Ron thought was very good for her.

"Losing every now and then is good for people" Hermione agreed with her friends

Many looked at her in surprise.

"Cassiopeia and Ron are good for her" mumbled Lavander

 

"Don't talk to me for a moment," said Ron when Cassiopeia sat down next to him, "I need to concen—" He caught sight of Cass's face. "What's the matter with you? You look terrible."

Bill snorted "Way to go, little brother"

"Thanks Merlin it wasn't your girlfriend" agreed Charlie 

Speaking quietly so that no one else would hear, Cassiopeia told the other two about Snape's sudden, sinister desire

"It was not sinister!" Snape snapped.

 

"And again. We didn't know it!!" Cassiopeia almost yelled, feeling irritated by the man.

to be a Quidditch referee.

"Don't play," said Hermione at once.

"What?" Oliver shouted. "Are you mad?"

 

"Hermione, don't even try to reason with Oliver..no use" Angelina said

"Say you're ill," said Ron.

"Won't work," Poppy said. 

"Pretend to break your leg," Hermione suggested.

Fred snorted. "We are wizards and witches"

"Really break your leg," said Ron.

 

George almost choked. "Really, bro..really?"

"I can't," said Cassiopeia. "There isn't a reserve Seeker. If I back out, Gryffindor can't play at all."

 

"Gryffindors...crazy in their bravery. You think the man wants to kill you and you care about wining?" Cassius asked, looking at her as she was crazy

"Of course." was all she said

Adrian tried not to faint "You need to sort out your priorities"

"It is no use, Pucey. Just like it is no use to reason with Wood" Hermione explained to the Slytherins 

At that moment Neville toppled into the common room. How he had managed to climb through the portrait hole was anyone's guess, because his legs had been stuck together with what they recognized at once as the Leg-Locker Curse. He must have had to bunny hop all the way up to Gryffindor tower.

Malfoy laughed. But he noticed that no-one else did. Instead, many were sending him some angry looks.

Everyone fell over laughing except Hermione and Cassiopeia, who leapt up and performed the counter curse.

Nevill smiled at two girls, feeling grateful.

Neville's legs sprang apart and he got to his feet, trembling. "What happened?" Hermione asked him, leading him over to sit with Cassiopeia and Ron.

"I think I know exactly what happened" Susan said angrily, ready to curse Malfoy

"Malfoy," said Neville shakily. "I met him outside the library. He said he'd been looking for someone to practice that on."

"Mr. Malfoy!" All of the teachers yelled.

"We will be holding a meeting with you. As you know any form of bullying will be punished regardless of time" Minerva told him sharply 

Malfoy paled. 

"Go to Professor McGonagall!" Hermione urged Neville. "Report him!"

"You should have Mr. Longbottom." McGonagall said 

 

Neville shook his head. "I don't want more trouble," he mumbled.

"You've got to stand up to him, Neville!" said Ron. "He's used to walking all over people, but that's no reason to lie down in front of him and make it easier."

"Good advice,Ron" approved Sirius 

"There's no need to tell me I'm not brave enough to be in Gryffindor, Malfoy's already done that," Neville choked out.

"Thats not what Ron wanted to say.." Sirius spoke gently

"I know. I was too upset" Nevill reassured everyone

 

Cassiopeia felt in the pocket of her robes and pulled out a Chocolate Frog, the very last one from the box Hermione had given her for Christmas. She gave it to Neville, who looked as though he might cry.

 

"My sweet girl" cooed Molly "so caring.."

"You're worth twelve of Malfoy," Cassiopeia said. "The Sorting Hat chose you for Gryffindor, didn't it? And where's Malfoy? In stinking Slytherin and only because he had no qualities whatsoever and the hat put him where he wanted to go."

Many smiled at Cassiopeia

"I am glad you didn't mean that we are all evil" Adrian spoke softly

"I never did. Your house has many admirable traits. And many great members, like aunt Andromeda or my grandmother, Dorea" Cassiopeia said calmly, voice gently, she allowed herself to look at him a bit longer. Just to see his kind eyes.

Neville's lips twitched in a weak smile as he unwrapped the frog.

"It really did make me feel better," Neville said quietly.

"Thanks, Cassi… I think I'll go to bed… D'you want the card, you collect them, don't you?"

As Neville walked away, Cassiopeia looked at the Famous Wizard card. "Dumbledore again," she said, "He was the first one I ever —" She gasped. She stared at the back of the card.

Remus smirked "Finally. Em..not that I condone it, of corse" poor guy. He was torn between being a responsible adult  and one of the Marauders.

Then she looked up at Ron and Hermione. "I've found him!" she whispered. "I've found Flamel! I told you I'd read the name somewhere before, I read it on the train coming here — listen to this: 'Dumbledore is particularly famous for his defeat of the dark wizard Grindelwald in 1945, for the discovery of the twelve uses of dragon's blood, and his work on alchemy with his partner, Nicolas Flamel'!"

"For the love of ..." Terry exclaimed. "After al that searching.."

Henry, seven year Raven nodded "Thought so"

"I can't believe it," Seamus muttered.

The trio shook their heads. "On the back of a frog..sweet Circe"

Hermione jumped to her feet. She hadn't looked so excited since they'd gotten back the marks for their very first piece of homework.

Student chuckled.

"Stay there!" she said, and she sprinted up the stairs to the girls' dormitories. Cassiopeia and Ron barely had time to exchange mystified looks before she was dashing back, an enormous old book in her arms.

Pansy tried to roll her eyes "Know it all.."

"I will turn you into a toad" Cassius growled 

"I never thought to look in here!" she whispered excitedly. "I got this out of the library weeks ago for a bit of light reading."

"Light?" George asked incredulously.

Fred snorted. "Thanks Merlin you are not a teacher here"

"Mental." Seamus said shaking his head

"Light?" said Ron, but Hermione told him to be quiet until she'd looked something up, and started flicking frantically through the pages, muttering to herself.

At last she found what she was looking for. "I knew it! I knew it!"

"Are we allowed to speak yet?" said Ron grumpily. Hermione ignored him.

Those who knew Hermione and Ron snickered.

"Nothing changed" snorted Ginny 

"Nicolas Flamel," she whispered dramatically, "is the only known maker of the Sorcerer's Stone!"

This didn't have quite the effect she'd expected.

"Well..he isn't exactly resent..so" Remus murmured 

"The what?" said Ron.

"Oh, honestly, don't you read?

"Oh, honestly Mione, live a little" joked Fred

"Look – read that, there." She pushed the book toward them, and Cassiopeia and Ron read:

The ancient study of alchemy is concerned with making the Philosopher's Stone, a legendary substance with astonishing powers. The stone will transform any metal into pure gold.

"Wicked!" exclaimed a second year Gryffindor boy

It also produces the Elixir of Life, which will make the drinker immortal.

"Wow." Anthony said in awe.

"That could be dangerous in certain people's hands," Susan said, biting her lip

"I agree with my niece. It was unwise to keep it in Hogwarts" Amelia nodded 

There have been many reports of the Philosopher's Stone over the centuries, but the only Stone currently in existence belongs to Mr. Nicolas Flamel, the noted alchemist and opera lover. Mr. Flamel, who celebrated his six hundred and sixty-fifth birthday last year, enjoys a quiet life in Devon with his wife, Perenelle (six hundred and fifty-eight).

"Bloody hell," Fred exclaimed

 

"See?" said Hermione, when Cassiopeia and Ron had finished. "The dog must be guarding Flamel's Sorcerer's Stone! I bet he asked Dumbledore to keep it safe for him, because they're friends and he knew someone was after it, that's why he wanted the Stone moved out of Gringotts!"

"Well..I am not too sure about it. I mean, it was discovered by first years!" Terry muttered 

"A stone that makes gold and stops you from ever dying!" said Cassiopeia. "No wonder Snape's after it! Anyone would want it."

'I wouldn't. Not without Lily in my life" thought Snape

"I wouldn't," Cassiopeia said. "To live forever and suffer through loss of loved one's, no, thank you"

Snape stared at her.."That was something Lily would have said"

Dumbledore gave her a proud smile "You are very wise for your age, my girl"

And no wonder we couldn't find Flamel in that Study of Recent Developments in Wizardry," said Ron. "He's not exactly recent if he's six hundred and sixty-five, is he?"

"Not quite," Remus said chuckling.

The next morning in Defense Against the Dark Arts, while copying down different ways of treating werewolf bites,

"Honestly, you can't treat werewolf bites. Any decent teacher would know" Remus said, feeling irritated 

Cassiopeia and Ron were still discussing what they'd do with a Sorcerer's Stone if they had one.

It wasn't until Ron said he'd buy his own Quidditch team that Cassiopeia remembered about Snape and the coming match.

"Don't remind me" murmured Collin 

"I'm going to play," she told Ron and Hermione. "If I don't, all the Slytherins will think I'm just too scared to face Snape. I'll show them… it'll really wipe the smiles off their faces if we win."

"Only you would think it's better to be killed than not to play." Ginny said, looking scared for her friend's priorities 

"Foolish Gryffindor pride," Snape sneered.

Minerva glared at him. 

"Just as long as we're not wiping you off the field," said Hermione.

"I don't think that helped," Seamus said snickering.

As the match drew nearer, however, Cassiopeia became more and more nervous, whatever she told Ron and Hermione.

Ron sighed.

"Don't keep this things from us. You don't need to be strong and independent all the time, you know" her best friend said softly, looking wit care at her

"I know, I know. It was a habit" Cassiopeia whispered back 

The dark mood come back

"Those muggles are dead.." Sirius thought to himself 

The rest of the team wasn't too calm, either. The idea of overtaking Slytherin in the house championship was wonderful, no one had done it for seven years, but would they be allowed to, with such a biased referee?

"Good question. He never showed he could be fair to any of us" agreed Parvati 

"But we didn't need it at the end!" Oliver informed everyone, smiling proudly 

Cassiopeia didn't know whether she was imagining it or not, but she seemed to keep running into Snape wherever she went. At times, hse even wondered whether Snape was following her, trying to catch her on her own.

"I had better things to do. I did not follow you around, Potter!" Snape snapped. 

"It is Potter-Black, Professor" Cassiopeia said way to sweet, ignoring his sneering

Potions lessons were turning into a sort of weekly torture, Snape was so horrible to Cassiopeia.

"You really need to learn to treat the students fairly Severus," Pomona said.

"How very mature, Professor. Torture a first year girl, because of your history with her father and his friends" Adrian said sarcastically 

Dumbledore gave Snape a disappointed look. 

Could Snape possibly know they'd found out about the Sorcerer's Stone?

"No. But i did suspect you were up to no good" Snape said silkily. 

The Trio smirked proudly 

Cassiopeia didn't see how he could — yet she sometimes had the horrible feeling that Snape could read minds.

"Professor Snape does indeed know how to do it." Dumbledore informed her, looking unhappy

Amelia frowned 'You better not be using it on students, Snape'

Severus turned his head, ignoring them all.

Cassiopeia knew, when they wished her good luck outside the locker rooms the next afternoon, that Ron and Hermione were wondering whether they'd ever see her alive again.

"Dramatic,much" Charlie chuckled, looking fondly at her

Cassiopeia blushed a little. When she was younger, well almost two years ago, Charlie Weasley was her first crush. It passed of course. 

Adrian didn't like it. Why did she blush? Did she like him or what? 

This wasn't what you'd call comforting. Cassiopeia hardly heard a word of Wood's pep talk as she pulled on her Quidditch robes and picked up her Nimbus Two Thousand.

 

Fred mocked glare at her "Ignoring you own Capitan, how could you?"

Cassi rolled her eyes.

Ron and Hermione, meanwhile, had found a place in the stands next to Neville, who couldn't understand why they looked so grim and worried, or why they had both brought their wands to the match.

"Good! Always have your wand with you! So you won't end up dead." roared Moody

Minerva massaged her temples. "Alastor, please, lets do not speak about death!"

Snape glared at them.

 

Little did Cassiopeia know that Ron and Hermione had been secretly practicing the Leg-Locker Curse.

Snape scowled. "I was on a broom! Do you two know how dangerous that would have been?"

Ron glared back. "We thought you were trying to kill out best friend. And we were ready to do whatever was necessary to protect her!"

 

Many looked at Ron in awe

"Merlins beard. Can I have friends like you?" asked Wayne Hopkins, from Hufflepuff

Ron blushed deep red. He wasn't use to be on the spot. 

They'd gotten the idea from Malfoy using it on Neville, and were ready to use it on Snape if he showed any sign of wanting to hurt Cassi.

The room roared with laugh.

"I would have paid to see that," Lee gasped 

Snape was ready to breath fire at this point.

"Now, don't forget, it's Locomotor Mortis," Hermione muttered as Ron slipped his wand up his sleeve.

"I know," Ron snapped. "Don't nag."

 

Back in the locker room, Wood had taken Cassiopeia aside.

"Don't want to pressure you, Potter, but if we ever need an early capture of the Snitch it's now. Finish the game before Snape can favor Hufflepuff too much."

"See? No pressure, Cassi, dearest" Charlie joked. 

Cassiopeia laughed "Of course not! Wood and pressure?"

Oliver blushed "We won, didn't we?" he mumbled 

Adrian was holding himself, trying mostly. "Don't curse Weasley, don't.."

"Calm yourself, lover-boy. Nothing will ever happen between those two" muttered Zabini

"And you know that..how?" snapped Adrian in low voice

"Well, lets be honest and real here. Weasley probably likes her a bit, alright? I won't deny it. But he is too wild, too outdoor guy, too independent and too much in love with his dragons to seriously fancy a human.It is too much even for her. I don't see him backing away from his dragons. And she wouldn't ask him too. But after the life she had and still has..dont you think Cassiopeia would prefer some stable life, normality? Family..he can't give it to her. And she is too much to handle for him as well. They both are stubborn, hot heads, easily angered Gryffs. There won't be any balance. Maximum a fling for them. But there is Ron and entire Weasley family in between. Nether will risk it."

Adrian looked flabbergasted. "How the bloody hell.."

"Observation, mate, It called observation and analysis skills" whispered Blaise back

"The whole school's out there!" said Fred Weasley, peering out of the door. "Even — blimey — Dumbledore's come to watch!"

Remus looked surprised. "You came to watch a quidditch match Albus?"

"I was there to ensure that nothing would happen, this time" Dumbledore answered lightly 

Snape scowled " You could have told me!"

Dumbledore chuckled "Yes, I suppose I could, Severus" 

George and Fred snorted at Headmaster antics 

Cassiopeia's heart did a somersault. "Dumbledore?" she said, dashing to the door to make sure. Fred was right. There was no mistaking that silver beard.

Dumbledore stroked his beard, looking amused 

Cassiopeia could have laughed out loud with relief, she was safe. There was simply no way that Snape would dare to try to hurt her if Dumbledore was watching.

"Good point, Cass. He isn't that stupid" muttered Dean, ignoring the look Snape was sending his way 

Perhaps that was why Snape was looking so angry as the teams marched onto the field, something that Ron noticed, too.

"I've never seen Snape look so mean," he told Hermione.

"Look — they're off. Ouch!"

Someone had poked Ron in the back of the head.

"No need to guess who," Nott muttered.

It was Malfoy.

"Here we go again." Ginny said.

"Honestly, Malfoy. Don't you have anything better to do?" asked Astoria 

Draco ignored her. Stupid blood traitor, even if..she is pretty.

"Oh, sorry, Weasley, didn't see you there."

"Sureeeee you didn't." Bill said glaring at the Slytherin.

Malfoy grinned broadly at Crabbe and Goyle. "Wonder how long Potter's going to stay on her broom this time? Anyone want a bet? What about you, Weasley?"

Ron didn't answer; Snape had just awarded Hufflepuff a penalty because George Weasley had hit a Bludger at him.

"George!" Molly yelled.

George grinned proudly "Totally worth it, even with the penalty"

Wood didn't look like he agreed

Hermione, who had all her fingers crossed in her lap, was squinting fixedly at Cassiopeia, who was circling the game like a hawk, looking for the Snitch.

"You know how I think they choose people for the Gryffindor team?" said Malfoy loudly a few minutes later, as Snape awarded Hufflepuff another penalty for no reason at all.

"Really Snape grow up," huffed Sirius 

"Says you, mutt" sneered Severus back

Hermione hurried, sensing an argument 

"It's people they feel sorry for. See, there's Potter, who's got no parents,

"You bloody didn't..." Adrian growled, looking ready to kill the blond

The Court didn't look any kinder.

Cassius pressed his lips, eyes showing a dangerous promise.

Snape had to keep himself from glaring at his godson. "He lied to me again.."

then there's the Weasleys, who've got no money

"Can't you come up with something new, ferret?" Fred snapped.

you should be on the team, Longbottom, you've got no brains."

"Leave Nev alone! He is a prodigy in Herbology, his marks were the highest in century!" shouted Susan 

Nevill was blushing, but smiled happy nevertheless "Thank you, Susan" 

She smiled back, feeling warm.

Hannah give her a knowing smile. Her friend has a crush on Nevill. By the look of it..Neville didn't really object. 

Neville went bright red but turned in his seat to face Malfoy.

"I'm worth twelve of you, Malfoy," he stammered.

"You tell him Neville!" The Hall cheered.

Neville chuckled 

Cassiopeia was proud of her god brother 

Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle howled with laughter, but Ron, still not daring to take his eyes from the game, said, "You tell him, Neville."

"Longbottom, if brains were gold you'd be poorer than Weasley, and that's saying something."

Draco was shrinking back from all the glares.

Normally sweet and calm Luna was glaring daggers at him "You are the poor one, Malfoy. You will never know love and true friendship. You will stay miserable in your Manor all alone.

Ron's nerves were already stretched to the breaking point with anxiety about Cassi

"Thanks Ron," Cassiopeia said sighing.

"Nothing to thank me for,mate" Ron said.

"I'm warning you, Malfoy — one more word—"

"Hex him, hex him!!" Charlie snapped.

"Charles! Do not encourage your brother to fight!" Molly scolded.

"Malfoy needs to learn his lesson, mum!" Charlie answered firmly 

Molly glared at her children 

"Ron!" said Hermione suddenly, "Cassiopeia —"

"Sweet Merlin! What now??" Molly moaned

"What? Where?"

Cassiopeia had suddenly gone into a spectacular dive, which drew gasps and cheers from the crowd. Hermione stood up, her crossed fingers in her mouth, as Cassi streaked toward the ground like a bullet.

"Go Cass!  Show them all! Go my seeker!" Wood cheered.

"Oliver, you have seen it. It was more than five years ago!" Angelina reminded him, trying to be calm

Wood ignored them all. His face dreamy.

"You're in luck, Weasley, Potter's obviously spotted some money on the ground!" said Malfoy.

Tonks rolled her eyes. "You can't even insult properly, poor you"

Malfoy turned pink 

Ron snapped. Before Malfoy knew what was happening, Ron was on top of him, wrestling him to the ground.

"RONALD WEASLEY! YOU SHOULD HAVE IGNORED HIM!" yelled his mother

"You go, little bro!! You show the brat his place!!" Bill cheered for him

Neville hesitated, then clambered over the back of his seat to help.

"Go Neville!" The Gryffindors and Susan cheered.

Neville blushed  scarlet.

"Come on, Cassi!" Hermione screamed, leaping onto her seat to watch as Cassiopeia sped straight at Snape — she didn't even notice Malfoy and Ron rolling around under her seat, or the scuffles and yelps coming from the whirl of fists that was Neville, Crabbe, and Goyle.

Hermione turned pink from all the stares. "I was so worried about Cassi!" 

"That's out Mione! Wouldn't change you for the world!" Cassiopeia smiled fondly 

Up in the air, Snape turned on his broomstick just in time to see something scarlet shoot past him, missing him by inches —

"Bad luck. Imagine if you could hit him..accidentally, of course" muttered Charlie 

"Oh..if only I could, if only.." Cassiopeia whispered back.

Cassius was worried. Adrian was calm and level headed guy..but it was about Cassiopeia. His jealous side was difficult to control. He just hoped Blaise was right.

Lily Moon and Tracey exchanged worried looks. They needed to keep Adrian from doing something foolish. 

the next second, Cassiopeia had pulled out of the dive, her arm raised in triumph, the Snitch clasped in her hand.

The Gryffindors cheered. Minerva as loud as her lions.

The stands erupted; it had to be a record, no one could ever remember the Snitch being caught so quickly.

"How long?" Charlie asked, impressed 

"I believe it was five minutes." Hooch said smiling proudly.

Charlie turned to stare at Cassi in awe. "You are bloody amazing, you know that?"

"Why, thank you. I do try" she smirked back

Charlie winked at her

 

 

Bill rolled his eyes. If only his brother wasn't that obsessed with dragons..

"Ron! Ron! Where are you? The game's over! Cassi's won! We've won! Gryffindor is in the lead!" shrieked Hermione, dancing up and down on her seat and hugging Parvarti Patil in the row in front.

Parvati smiled at the memory "I was soooo happy!"

Cassi jumped off her broom, a foot from the ground. She couldn't believe it. She'd done it, the game was over; it had barely lasted five minutes. As Gryffindors came spilling onto the field, she saw Snape land nearby, white-faced and tight-lipped, then Cassiopeia felt a hand on her shoulder and looked up into Dumbledore's smiling face.

"Well done," said Dumbledore quietly, so that only Cassiopeia could hear. "Nice to see you haven't been brooding about that mirror… been keeping busy… excellent…"

Molly and Sirius scowled. 

"That damnt mirror shouldn't be inside the school in the first place" muttered Remus

Snape spat bitterly on the ground.

"Ew." Several girls said disgusted.

"Where is your manners. Professor?" Luna asked innocently 

Students looked at her dumbfounded. What the hell?

Cassiopeia left the locker room alone some time later, to take her Nimbus Two Thousand back to the broom shed. She couldn't ever remember feeling happier. She'd really done something to be proud of now – no one could say he was just a famous name any more.

"You've done a lot to be proud of," Arthur spoke softly to her

"Well, people usually see only "the girl who lived.." Cass murmured sadly

"Then it is their loss. You don't need those fake people around you, Cassi" Remus said, kissing the top of her head

Ron nodded in agreement.

Some people looked shocked. They never..they never saw it that way. Never stopped to think how Cassiopeia must be feeling..

The evening air had never smelled so sweet. She walked over the damp grass, reliving the last hour in her head, which was a happy blur: Gryffindors running to lift her onto their shoulders; Ron and Hermione in the distance, jumping up and down, Ron cheering through a heavy nosebleed.

"Ron! Were you hurt?" Molly asked worriedly.

"I was fine mum" Ron said.

Cassiopeia had reached the shed. She leaned against the wooden door and looked up at Hogwarts, with its windows glowing red in the setting sun. Gryffindor in the lead. She'd done it, she'd shown Snape…

And speaking of Snape…

"What now?" groaned Sirius 

"Um..." Cassiopeia shrugged 

A hooded figure came swiftly down the front steps of the castle. Clearly not wanting to be seen, it walked as fast as possible toward the forbidden forest. Cassiopeia's victory faded from her mind as she watched. She recognized the figure's prowling walk. Snape, sneaking into the forest while everyone else was at dinner — what was going on?

"How can you recognise someone by their walk?" asked Lavander confused 

"It is a very good trait to have. Could benefit you greatly, as an auror" complimented her Kingsley 

Some younger students shot Snape suspicious looks. 

Cassiopeia jumped back on her Nimbus Two Thousand and took off. Gliding silently over the castle she saw Snape enter the forest at a run. She followed.

"Of course you did!!" groaned Minerva 

"James would too" chuckled Sirius, however, Remus silence him with a look.

Snape looked as though he wanted to kill her. "Brat" he muttered, too low for anyone to hear

The trees were so thick she couldn't see where Snape had gone. She flew in circles, lower and lower, brushing the top branches of trees until she heard voices. She glided toward them and landed noiselessly in a towering beech tree.

"Brilliant at flying." Oliver exclaimed proudly 

The twins were laughing at the disbelieving look everyone was sending Oliver.

She climbed carefully along one of the branches, holding tight to her broomstick, trying to see through the leaves.

"You could have been hurt badly, Cassi!" moaned Molly, shaking her head 

Below, in a shadowy clearing, stood Snape, but he wasn't alone. Quirrell was there, too.

 

 

Moody narrowed his eyes. "He was mentioned way too much..Quirrell character..something was wrong with the man"

Cassiopeia couldn't make out the look on his face, but he was stuttering worse than ever. Cassiopeia strained to catch what they were saying.

"You shouldn't be listening in someone else's conversation! yelled Snape

"Oh..yeah? Maybe I should have ignored it all and let HIM have the stone..was it what you wanted?" Cassiopeia shouted back. Snape was getting on her nerves 

"Leave her alone,Professor" Adrian said coldly, looking into Snape's eyes with hate.

Snape eyes went wide. "His snake has it bad.."Better not to irritate Heir Pucey right now"

Draco was wise enough to be silent."If Pucey dropped his mask in the crowd..better to watch out"

Cassiopeia smiled brightly. Felling happy all of the sudden, her heart jumping. "Thank you, Adrian" she said in low voice.

Then she did something else..it was fast and none could see, but she squeezed his hand a little. Her skin soft against his own. Adrian felt serene .

"… d-don't know why you wanted t-t-to meet here of all p-places, Severus…"

 

"Oh, I thought we'd keep this private," said Snape,

Fred and George wiggled their eye brows suggestively.

Seamus pretend to faint.

his voice icy. "Students aren't supposed to know about the Sorcerer's Stone, after all."

The Hall chuckled 

"Yeah..tell that to those three" said Lee, gasping 

Cassiopeia leaned forward. Quirrell was mumbling something. Snape interrupted him.

"Have you found out how to get past that beast of Hagrid's yet?"

"Why would you need to know that?" asked Hannah, confused

"Not your bloody business, you little brat!" snapped Snape

"Severus Snape! You will not speak to my student in this manner if you know what is good for you!!" yelled Pomona, ready to hurt him 

Snape just ground his teeth together. 

"B-b-but Severus, I —"

"You don't want me as your enemy, Quirrell," said Snape, taking a step toward him.

 

"and you wondered why they suspected you.." Tonks snorted 

"I-I don't know what you—"

"You know perfectly well what I mean."

An owl hooted loudly, and Cassiopeia nearly fell out of the tree.

"Thank goodness you didn't," Madam Pomfrey said quietly.

She steadied herself in time to hear Snape say, "— your little bit of hocus-pocus. I'm waiting."

"I had to miss the most important part," Cassi grumbled 

Remus ruffled her hair gently "Oh..Cassi, I wish you knew how to trust adults. It was their job to protect the stone" he whispered sadly 

"I do know. I have you and Siri" Cassiopeia whispered back, voice sincere

"B-but I d-d-don't —"

"Bloody stutter, how annoying it was," Zabini muttered.

"Very well," Snape cut in. "We'll have another little chat soon, when you've had time to think things over and decided where your loyalties lie."

He threw his cloak over his head and strode out of the clearing. It was almost dark now, but Cassiopeia could see Quirrell, standing quite still as though he was petrified.

"Mmm...considering he was one to one with Snape.." mumbled Hopkins 

Cassiopeia, where have you been?" Hermione squeaked.

"We won! You won! We won!" shouted Ron, thumping Cassiopeia on the back. "And I gave Malfoy a black eye, and Neville tried to take on Crabbe and Goyle single-handed!

"Go Ron and Nev." Twins sing san

Many student bowed to said lions 

He's still out cold but Madam Pomfrey says he'll be all right, talk about showing Slytherin!

Madam Pomfrey sighed. "Honestly.."

Everyone's waiting for you in the common room, we're having a party, Fred and George stole some cakes and stuff from the kitchens."

"Students aren't allowed in the kitchens." Umbridge said in her horrible  voice 

"And the teachers aren't allowed to torture students!" Cassiopeia said back

Amelia raised her eyebrows "I beg you pardon?!" she almost yelled

"Book five will tell you all about Madam Umbridge way of teaching" Ron spat

Fudge was sweating. Oh Merlin...what did she do? 

Amelia glared at them both. "You better pray to Merlin. You won't leave this school as free members of our society!"

Her Auors smirked, ready to put both of them down.

 

"Never mind that now," said Cassiopeia breathlessly. "Let's find an empty room, you wait 'til you hear this…"

"Of course you just had to tell them immediately" Ginny murmured amused.

"Of course." the trio all said at once.

She made sure Peeves wasn't inside before shutting the door behind them,

"Smart." Bill said "Thats how the rumours usually start.."

then she told them what she'd seen and heard.

"So we were right, it is the Sorcerer's Stone, and Snape's trying to force Quirrell to help him get it.

Snape sneered. "I would rather ask Hagrid's beast for help.."

"Can't disagree." Cassiopeia muttered.

"Quirrell was an idiot." Ron agreed in low voice, so his mother wouldn't yell 

He asked if he knew how to get past Fluffy — and he said something about Quirrell's 'hocus pocus' — I reckon there are other things guarding the stone apart from Fluffy, loads of enchantments, probably,

"You are too smart for your own good," Minerva muttered

and Quirrell would have done some anti-Dark Arts spell that Snape needs to break through —"

"Please, Professor Snape didn't need to try. He could have done it in a flash" sneered Malfoy

No student wanted to agree with the brat, but he did have a point.

"So you mean the Stone's only safe as long as Quirrell stands up to Snape?" said Hermione in alarm.

"I would have been alarmed too" agreed Remus

"This Quirell character is rubbing me the wrong way"  Tonks said, feeling suspicious 

"It'll be gone by next Tuesday," said Ron.

This caused everyone to laugh 

"Ronnikens..where did you hide this side of you?"

"Far enough from you to corrupt him" Bill joked 

Cassiopeia snorted "I am not sure, Bill. Ron is the one you need to watch out.." she chuckled

The twins looked offended. 

"Our own younger brother.." George cried

"You wounded us! Behind our backs.." Fred mocked glare

"Enough, both of you!!" Molly shouted at her sons 

"That's the end of this chapter." Hermione said, marked the page and closed the book. 

"How many are left?" asked Remus

"Well..four" Hermione said, avoiding his eyes

Remus groaned "I am going to be grey, I know..I will" he moaned 

Dumbledore stood up and motioned for silence. "Thank you,Miss Granger. I believe we should have dinner while reading the book. After all there are still four more"

Students were so curious, worried and exited all together, so naturally, they all agreed. 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Chapter 16

 

Once the chapter was finished Dumbledore once more stood. "Who would like to read next?"

Ron and Cassiopeia looked at each other and smirked.

 "Professor, I think my brother Charlie will." Ron said, voice slightly amused

Charlie gave his brother a weird look and took the book, he read the title and grinned.

                                                                       "Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback." Charlie read in a happy voice.

Minerva narrowed her eyes. "I beg you pardon, Mr Weasley?"

"Hmm..thats the chapter, Professor..?" Charlie tried, now he felt unsure about it.

"A dragon. There really was a dragon?!" Minerva yelled. 

The trio began to scoot away.

"I told you!" Draco shouted.

"What I would like to know,Draco, is why you didn't tell ME?" Snape asked the boy, voice dangerously low

"We are so dead," Ron whispered.

His brother hurried. Better to get it over with.

Quirrell, however, must have been braver than they'd thought.

This caused the trio to snort.

"Yeahhhh, right.." muttered Cassiopeia

Remus and Sirius were looking worried.

In the weeks that followed he did seem to be getting paler and thinner, but it didn't look as though he'd cracked yet.

Every time they passed the third-floor corridor, Cassiopeia, Ron, and Hermione would press their ears to the door to check that Fluffy was still growling inside.

"Dear Merlin,you are mental" Neville shook his head.

Snape was sweeping about in his usual bad temper, which surely meant that the Stone was still safe.

"Snape is always in a bad mood." Parvati mumbled

Whenever Cassi passed Quirrell these days she gave him an encouraging sort of smile, and Ron had started telling people off for laughing at Quirrell's stutter.

Cassiopeia and Ron groaned.

"I can't believe we did that," Ron said quietly.

"Well, I think you were polite, children" Molly smiled

If only she knew..

Hermione, however, had more on her mind than the Philosopher's Stone. She had started drawing up study schedules and color coding all her notes. Cassiopeia and Ron wouldn't have minded, but she kept nagging them to do the same.

"There is nothing wrong with studying!" Molly said in a stern voice

Fred and George gave her a scandalised look.

"Hermione, the exams are ages away."

"Ten weeks," Hermione snapped.

The Ravenclaws looked gobsmacked.

"You start studying TEN weeks before the exams?" Terry asked

"Even we didn't do that!" exclaimed Anthony 

"That's not ages, that's like a second to Nicolas Flamel."

"You aren't six hundred years old," Fred chuckled.

"But we're not six hundred years old," Ron reminded her.

"Whyyyy, be still my beating heart! There is hope for you, Roniii" yelled Fred

His mother gave him a sharp look.

"Anyway, what are you studying for, you already know it's an all."

"Too true," Dean muttered.

 

"What am I studying for? Are you crazy? You realize we need to pass these exams to get into the second year? They're very important, I should have started studying a month ago, I don't know what's gotten into me…"

"Oh that's easy, you, my dear bookworm, had a bad influence." George said in a stern sort of voice. Trying to give the best impression of his mother.

"Oi!" Cassiopeia and Ron exclaimed, while everyone else laughed.

Unfortunately, the teachers seemed to be thinking along the same lines as Hermione. They piled so much homework on them that the Easter holidays weren't nearly as much fun as the Christmas ones.

"You are supposed to study here," McGonagall said sharply.

The Professors nodded.

It was hard to relax with Hermione next to you reciting the twelve uses of dragon's blood or practicing wand movements.

The lions all snickered.

Moaning and yawning, Cassiopeia and Ron spent most of their free time in the library with her, trying to get through all their extra work.

"Good, thank you, Hermione" Molly said, approving Hermione's past actions. 

"I'll never remember this," Ron burst out one afternoon, throwing down his quill and looking longingly out of the library window. It was the first really fine day they'd had in months. The sky was a clear, forget-me-not blue, and there was a feeling in the air of summer coming.

"You could always study outside." Bill informed them.

"Agreed, that was my way to get James and Sirius to study" Remus smiled 

Cassiopeia, who was looking up "Dittany" in One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi, didn't look up until she heard Ron say, "Hagrid! What are you doing in the library?"

"Hagrid in the library?" George asked, surprised.

"A bit fishy if you ask me" Lee agreed.

Hagrid shuffled into view, hiding something behind his back. He looked very out of place in his moleskin overcoat.

"Jus' lookin'," he said, in a shifty voice that got their interest at once.

"Pff, no surprise here! You can't hide anything from those three" snorted Neville

 

"An' what're you lot up ter?" He looked suddenly suspicious. "Yer not still lookin' fer Nicolas Flamel, are yeh?"

"Nope! Of course no!" joked Dean. 

"Oh, we found out who he is ages ago," said Ron impressively. "And we know what that dog's guarding, it's a Philosopher's St—"

"Not there. Your enemy can be near!!" Moody snapped. 

"You are right, but we were eleven! muttered Ron.

"Shhhh!" Hagrid looked around quickly to see if anyone was listening. "Don' go shoutin' about it, what's the matter with yeh?"

 

 

"There are a few things we wanted to ask you, as a matter of fact," said Cassiopeia, "about what's guarding the Stone apart from Fluffy —"

"That information wasn't for any of you." McGonagall said. 

"Hagrid better not to tell you anything" muttered Molly

"SHHHH!" said Hagrid again. "Listen — come an' see me later, I'm not promisin' I'll tell yeh anythin', mind, but don' go rabbitin' about it in here, students aren' s'pposed ter know. They'll think I've told yeh —"

"Well technically..." started Fred

"You kind of did." finished his brother

"See you later, then," said Cassiopeia. Hagrid shuffled off.

"What was he hiding behind his back?" said Hermione thoughtfully. "Do you think it had anything to do with the Stone?"

"I'm going to see what section he was in," said Ron,

"That's a good idea, Weasley!" Moody approved 

"Thanks." Ron said, turning red.

who'd had enough of working. He came back a minute later with a pile of books in his arms and slammed them down on the table.

"Dragons!" he whispered. "Hagrid was looking up stuff about dragons! Look at these: Dragon Species of Great Britain and Ireland; From Egg to Inferno, A Dragon Keeper's Guide."

All of the adults groaned.

"Hagrid!" Molly yelled. "

Hagrid looked sheepish.

Remus massaged his temples "Please, tell me it was for the sake of reading only..." he asked. 

The trio avoided his eyes. That was the answer he needed.

"Dragons are illegal Hagrid." Umbrage said, looking pleased with herself.

"Well, and Hagrid was sent to prison for what reasons?" Cassiopeia shot back. 

"Hagrid's always wanted a dragon, he told me so the first time I ever met him, " said Cassiopeia.

 

"Well, he tells that to everyone.." Sirius said. He was torn between being scared for his girl and her friends, and amused.

"But it's against our laws," said Ron. "Dragon breeding was outlawed by the Warlocks' Convention of 1709, everyone knows that.

"I didn't know that." many exclaimed 

"Wow, you listen to me?" Charlie asked surprised.

"Yes," Ron mumbled. 

It's hard to stop Muggles from noticing us if we're keeping dragons in the back garden —

"Splendid idea, brother mine!" shouted George

"George, knowing the trio..it is not wise to encourage them.." Lee grinned 

anyway, you can't tame dragons, it's dangerous. You should see the burns Charlie's got off wild ones in Romania."

Molly winced.

"I am not going near one again..the first task was enough!" muttered Cassi

Ron and Hermione groaned

"Mate, you shouldn't have said it. Now we are going to meet one" Ron muttered

Adrian looked worried "I really hope, you won't"

"But there aren't wild dragons in Britain?" said Cassiopeia.

"Of course there are," said Ron.

 

"Common Welsh Green and Hebridean Blacks. The Ministry of Magic has a job hushing them up, I can tell you. Our kind have to keep putting spells on Muggles who've spotted them, to make them forget."

"So what on earth's Hagrid up to?" said Hermione.

The adults all shot him sharp looks.

When they knocked on the door of the gamekeeper's hut an hour later, they were surprised to see that all the curtains were closed.

"Well...it seems as someone is hiding something" grinned Dean 

Hagrid called "Who is it?" before he let them in, and then shut the door quickly behind them.

It was stifling hot inside. Even though it was such a warm day, there was a blazing fire in the grate. Hagrid made them tea and offered them stoat sandwiches, which they refused.

 

"So — yeh wanted to ask me somethin'?"

"Hagrid, you should know better!" Sprout groaned.

 

"Exactly! Now they won't leave you, until they get something from you" agreed Flitwick. 

"Yes," said Cassiopeia. There was no point beating around the bush. "We were wondering if you could tell us what's guarding the Philosopher's Stone apart from Fluffy."

"Right to the point. I like it!" Moody said.

"But not the best way with Hagrid." muttered Sirius "You should try to get him drunk.." he didn't finish. The looks Remus, Molly and Minerva were sending him..well,he didn't dare to speak..

 

Hagrid frowned at her. "O' course I can't," he said. "Number one, I don' know meself. Number two, yeh know too much already, so I wouldn' tell yeh if I could. That Stone's here fer a good reason. It was almost stolen outta Gringotts

" And the school is supposed to be a better place for it..how?" Molly was getting angry. 

"Someone did broke into.." started Lavander. 

"But it was already empty. So the goblins didn't protect it as much as before" tried to reason with her Bill.

I s'ppose yeh've worked that out an' all? Beats me how yeh even know abou' Fluffy."

"I still can't believe you named that thing Fluffy.." mumbled Neville

 

 

" It is safe to say that it was all Malfoy's fault. If he didn't challenged Cass.." started Collin

Many were glaring at the blond

"Oh, come on, Hagrid, you might not want to tell us, but you do know, you know everything that goes on round here," said Hermione in a warm, flattering voice.

"Well done, well done, Hermione old girl!" Fred sing song 

"That will do!" exclaimed George 

Hagrid's beard twitched and they could tell he was smiling. "We only wondered who had done the guarding, really." Hermione went on. "We wondered who Dumbledore had trusted enough to help him, apart from you."

"Nice one," Ginny said chuckling.

"Ginny, don't you dare..!"Molly yelled 

Hagrid's chest swelled at these last words. Cassi and Ron beamed at Hermione.

"Oh no," Professor Vector sighed.

"Well, I don' s'pose it could hurt ter tell yeh that… let's see… he borrowed Fluffy from me… then some o' the teachers did enchantments… Professor Sprout —

Ron didn't look happy at all. "That bloody plant.."

Professor Flitwick —

Cassiopeia thought that Oliver will like that one

Professor McGonagall —"

Many looked curious. The trio however, didn't. They were shaking, remembering the horrors of McGonagall protection.

he ticked them off on his fingers, "Professor Quirrell —an' Dumbledore himself did somethin', o' course. Hang on, I've forgotten someone. Oh yeah, Professor Snape."

"Snape?" Lavender asked in shock.

"Yes me, I did not try to take the bloody thing!" Snape sneered.

"Snape?"

"Yeah — yer not still on abou' that, are yeh? Look, Snape helped protect the Stone, he's not about ter steal it."

Snape nodded his head in agreement.

Cassiopeia knew Ron and Hermione were thinking the same as she was. If Snape had been in on protecting the Stone, it must have been easy to find out how the other teachers had guarded it. He probably knew everything — except, it seemed, Quirrell's spell and how to get past Fluffy.

" As much as I don't want to say it..however, Snape would easily get past whatever the fool did.." muttered Sirius.

"You're the only one who knows how to get past Fluffy aren't you, Hagrid?" said Cassiopeia anxiously. "And you wouldn't tell anyone, would you? Not even one of the teachers?"

"Not a soul knows except me an' Dumbledore," said Hagrid proudly.

'And Voldy.' Ron thought.

"Well, that's something," Cassiopeia muttered to the others. "Hagrid, can we have a window open? I'm boiling."

"Can't, Cassi, sorry," said Hagrid. Cassiopeia noticed him glance at the fire. She looked at it, too.

"Hagrid — what's that?"

But she already knew what it was. In the very heart of the fire, underneath the kettle, was a huge, black egg.

"Hagrid!" The adults yelled.

"Wicked." Dennis said.

"That is seriously irresponsible!" Molly shouted.

"Ah," said Hagrid, fiddling nervously with his beard, "That's — er…"

"Just a dragon. No big, guys" Ron snorted 

Cassiopeia tried not to chuckle. 

"Where did you get it, Hagrid?" said Ron, crouching over the fire to get a closer look at the egg. "It must've cost you a fortune."

"I would like to know it too" Tonks said.

"Won it," said Hagrid. "Las' night. I was down in the village havin' a few drinks an' got into a game o' cards with a stranger. Think he was quite glad ter get rid of it, ter be honest."

"That doesn't make a lot of sense when you think about it. Why not sell it? " Remus was looking thoughtful.

Charlie nodded. "Dragon eggs are illegal, but if you have one..you won't just give it away".

Moody was staring at the book suspiciously.

"But what are you going to do with it when it's hatched?" said Hermione.

 

"Well, I've bin doin' some readin'," said Hagrid, pulling a large book from under his pillow. "Got this outta the library —Dragon Breeding for Pleasure and Profit — it's a bit outta date, o' course, but it's all in here. Keep the egg in the fire, 'cause their mothers breathe on I em, see, an' when it hatches, feed it on a bucket o' brandy mixed with chicken blood every half hour.

"Lovely diet" Cho said wrinkling her nose.

Her housemates looked at her as if she was an idiot.

"Thats all you have to say? There was a DRAGON here, Cho!" almost yelled Roger 

An' see here — how ter recognize diff'rent eggs — what I got there's a Norwegian Ridgeback. They're rare, them."

"And very very dangerous." Charlie muttered.

"Of course." groaned Remus

He looked very pleased with himself, but Hermione didn't.

"I should hope not," Minerva huffed.

"Hagrid, you live in a wooden house," she said.

"Good point," Justin said.

Ernie snorted. "One of many..the other one, oh,,I dont know..the students of this school?" .

But Hagrid wasn't listening. He was humming merrily as he stoked the fire.

So now they had something else to worry about: what might happen to Hagrid if anyone found out he was hiding an illegal dragon in his hut.

 "You should have said something, Miss Potter, it really wasn't  your problem to deal with." Professor Sprout said.

"We didn't want to get Hagrid in any trouble," Cassi muttered.

"You really are a good friend" Adrian said gently. 

 

"Wonder what it's like to have a peaceful life," Ron sighed,

"I doubt you will ever know," Luna sighed. "Not as long as HE is alive" .

The atmosphere began to tense at once.

as evening after evening they struggled through all the extra homework they were getting. Hermione had now started making study schedules for Cass and Ron, too. It was driving them nuts.

 

"Cant blame you, guys" muttered Seamus.

"Run, run as fast as you can" agreed Dean.

It was a common knowledge among Gryffindors. Hermione Granger and her study sessions..

Then, one breakfast time, Hedwig brought Cassiopeia another note from Hagrid. He had written only two words: It's hatching.

"Wicked!" Colin yelled.

"That would be awesome to see," Dennis agreed

"Absolutely not!" shouted Minerva 

"You three better not go anywhere near that dragon," Molly said.

The twins snorted.

"Yepp, right" muttered Fred.

"Of course they didn't go. It was just a regular thing, after all. You can see it any day " mumbled George.

Ron wanted to skip Herbology and go straight down to the hut.

Sprout gave him a disapproving look.

"You will do no such thing!" Molly yelled.

Hermione wouldn't hear of it.

"Good." the teachers and Molly all said in unison.

"Hermione, how many times in our lives are we going to see a dragon hatching?"

"Never, if you are lucky" Nevill whispered.

"We've got lessons, we'll get into trouble, and that's nothing to what Hagrid's going to be in when someone finds out what he's doing—"

"Shut up!" Cassiopeia whispered.

Malfoy was only a few feet away and he had stopped dead to listen. How much had he heard? Cassiopeia didn't like the look on Malfoy's face at all.

"CONSTANT VIGILANCE!" Moody shouted making many students to jump.

Tonks rolled her eyes "Really, Mad-eye, really? You are going to kill the half of them before we are done".

"They should be prepared" Moody argued back. 

 

Ron and Hermione argued all the way to Herbology and in the end, Hermione agreed to run down to Hagrid's with the other two during morning break.

When the bell sounded from the castle at the end of their lesson, the three of them dropped their trowels at once and hurried through the grounds to the edge of the forest. Hagrid greeted them, looking flushed and excited.

"It's nearly out." He ushered them inside.

Charlie began to read faster in his excitement.

The egg was lying on the table. There were deep cracks in it. Something was moving inside; a funny clicking noise was coming from it.

Many leaned forward in anticipation.

They all drew their chairs up to the table and watched with bated breath.

All at once there was a scraping noise and the egg split open. The baby dragon flopped onto the table. It wasn't exactly pretty; Cassi thought it looked like a crumpled, black umbrella.

"Cassi, how could you!" exclaimed Charlie, looking offended. 

"I love your descriptions." Fred barked out between laughs.

"He was such a beauty.." cooed Hagrid.

"She, she is.." Charlie stopped suddenly..

His mother was red, her hands shaking and eyes glaring daggers "And how would you know that, Charles?!" 

He decided it was better to read. 

Its spiny wings were huge compared to its skinny jet body, it had a long snout with wide nostrils, the stubs of horns and bulging, orange eyes.

"Beautiful, how very beautiful." muttered Justin sarcastically 

The trio silently agreed with him. 

It sneezed. A couple of sparks flew out of its snout.

"Isn't it wonderful," Zacharias sneered.

"No-one asked you, Smith" hissed Hannah.

"Isn't he beautiful?" Hagrid murmured. He reached out a hand to stroke the dragon's head. It snapped at his fingers, showing pointed fangs.

"Bloody hell," Seamus whispered.

"I am glad I missed such an opportunity.." muttered Angelina 

"Bless him, look, he knows his mommy!" said Hagrid.

"Mommy?" asked Bill weakly. 

"Only Hagrid," Sirius said laughing.

"Hagrid," said Hermione, "how fast do Norwegian Ridgebacks grow, exactly?"

"Ridgebacks grow extremely fast." Charlie said looking up from the book. 

Hagrid was about to answer when the color suddenly drained from his face — he leapt to his feet and ran to the window.

"What, what now?" asked Ernie. 

"What's the matter?"

"Someone was lookin' through the gap in the curtains — it's a kid — he's runnin' back up ter the school."

"Three guesses who..." Ginny said glaring at Draco.

Cassiopeia bolted to the door and looked out. Even at a distance there was no mistaking him.

Malfoy had seen the dragon.

Something about the smile lurking on Malfoy's face during the next week

"Week?" Snape hissed "You knew for a week and didn't say anything?"

Draco paled drastically.

His housemates were smiling pleasantly at him and Snape. Finally, the idiot Head of their House saw his dear godson for what he was.

made Cassiopeia, Ron, and Hermione very nervous.

"I would be too," Alicia said.

They spent most of their free time in Hagrid's darkened hut, trying to reason with him.

"You three really should've told an adult," Flitwick sighed. 

"Just let him go," Cassiopeia urged. "Set him free."

"You can't. She was too small, could have died" Charlie said shaking his head.

"Pity, the thing didn't" Pansy sneered.

"One more word.." Lily Moon snapped.

"I can't," said Hagrid. "He's too little. He'd die."

They looked at the dragon. It had grown three times in length in just a week.

"Holly mother of God" Justin muttered. 

Smoke kept furling out of its nostrils. Hagrid hadn't been doing his gamekeeping duties because the dragon was keeping him so busy.

"How did we not notice?" Minerva asked, feeling guilty. 

There were empty brandy bottles and chicken feathers all over the floor.

"I've decided to call him Norbert," said Hagrid, looking at the dragon with misty eyes. "He really knows me now, watch. Norbert! Norbert! Where's Mommy?"

"He has gone mad. Mad.." mumbled George.

"He's lost his marbles," Ron muttered in Cassi's ear.

"See! Ron agree's with me!" tried George. But the teachers were too tense. His mother looking like a dragon herself. 

"Hagrid," said Cassiopeia loudly, "give it two weeks and Norbert's going to be as long as your house. Malfoy could go to Dumbledore at any moment."

Hagrid bit his lip. "I — I know I can't keep him forever, but I can't jus' dump him, I can't."

Cassiopeia suddenly turned to Ron. "Charlie." she said.

 

"Charles Weasley!" Molly yelled. "You knew about the dragon and said nothing to us?!". 

Charlie gulped and quickly continued to read.

"You're losing it, too," said Ron. "I'm Ron, remember?"

Fred and George snorted.

"No — Charlie — your brother, Charlie. In Romania. Studying dragons. We could send Norbert to him. Charlie can take care of him and then put him back in the wild!"

"I am going to have a long talk with you all after this reading!" Molly said sternly.

Her children, Cassi and Hermione didn't like this news one bit. 

Remus however, was agreeing, not looking to pleased himself. 

"Brilliant!" said Ron. "How about it, Hagrid?"

And in the end, Hagrid agreed that they could send an owl to Charlie to ask him.

The following week dragged by. Wednesday night found Hermione and Cassiopeia sitting alone in the common room, long after everyone else had gone to bed. The clock on the wall had just chimed midnight when the portrait hole burst open. Ron appeared out of nowhere as he pulled off Cass's invisibility cloak.

"What were you doing out so late Ronald?" Molly asked sharply. 

"Uhhh, nothing much.?" tried Ron. 

His mother didn't buy it.

He had been down at Hagrid's hut, helping him feed Norbert, who was now eating dead rats by the crate.

"It bit me!" he said, showing them his hand, which was wrapped in a bloody handkerchief.

Everyone looked at  Ron in shock.

Molly shot a furious look at Hagrid 

"Dragons bites are poisonous." Charlie said, looking pale. 

"He went to me. However, he said nothing about any dragons!" muttered Poppy.

"I'm not going to be able to hold a quill for a week. I tell you, that dragon's the most horrible animal I've ever met, but the way Hagrid goes on about it, you'd think it was a fluffy little bunny rabbit. When it bit me he told me off for frightening it. And when I left, he was singing it a lullaby."

"Oh, Hagrid..you and your pets.." Remus said, shaking his head in disbelief.

There was a tap on the dark window. "It's Hedwig!" said Cassiopeia, hurrying to let her in. "She'll have Charlie's answer!"

The three of them put their heads together to read the note.

Dear Ron,

How are you? Thanks for the letter — I'd be glad to take the Norwegian Ridgeback, but it won't be easy getting him here. I think the best thing will be to send him over with some friends of mine who are coming to visit me next week. Trouble is, they mustn't be seen carrying an illegal dragon.

Could you get the Ridgeback up the tallest tower at midnight on Saturday?

"Charlie Weasley! How could you! You are encouraging your brother in illegal activities." Molly scolded.

"I couldn't do nothing." Charlie said.

"He is right, Molly. The dragon couldn't stay at Hogwarts, and those three wouldn't abandon Hagrid." Remus said calmly. 

They can meet you there and take him away while it's still dark.

Send me an answer as soon as possible.

Love,

Charlie

They looked at one another.

"We've got the invisibility cloak," said Cassiopeia.

" Lucky you do!" mumbled Parvati 

"It shouldn't be too difficult – I think the cloaks big enough to cover two of us and Norbert."

 

"Even if it were the three of you..." Sirius said wistfully. He clearly was remembering the good time they had with it.

"Sirius Orion Black, stop this instance!" Molly yelled. Honestly!

It was a mark of how bad the last week had been that the other two agreed with her. Anything to get rid of Norbert — and Malfoy.

"Especially the last one" grimaced Tracey.

Draco gave her a nasty look, but said nothing. 

There was a hitch. By the next morning, Ron's bitten hand had swollen to twice its usual size.

"Oh no, my poor baby!" Molly whispered, ready to storm over Ron's side. 

"I was fine, honestly!" Ron said annoyed. It was in their first year, for Merlin sake!

 

He didn't know whether it was safe to go to Madam Pomfrey — would she recognize a dragon bite?

Pomfrey's lips were in a thin line. "I did think of it. But not even in my wildest dreams I could imagine.." she trailed, looking upset. 

By the afternoon, though, he had no choice. The cut had turned a nasty shade of green. It looked as if Norbert's fangs were poisonous.

Molly looked at Ron fearfully. 

Cassiopeia and Hermione rushed up to the hospital wing at the end of the day to find Ron in a terrible state in bed.

"It's not just my hand," he whispered, "although that feels like it's about to fall off. Malfoy told Madam Pomfrey he wanted to borrow one of my books so he could come and have a good laugh at me. He kept threatening to tell her what really bit me - I've told her it was a dog,but I don't think she believes me -

"No, I didn't." the matron answered sternly, her bad mood clearly showing. 

I shouldn't have hit him at the Quidditch match, that's why he's doing this."

"He would have done it anyway." said Dean.

"Of course he would! The git!" shouted Ginny. 

Cassiopeia and Hermione tried to calm Ron down.

"It'll all be over at midnight on Saturday," said Hermione, but this didn't soothe Ron at all. On the contrary, he sat bolt upright and broke into a sweat.

"Midnight on Saturday!" he said in a hoarse voice. "Oh no oh no — I've just remembered — Charlie's letter was in that book Malfoy took, he's going to know we're getting rid of Norbert."

 

"The worst luck you have.." Seamus said, groaning 

Minerva however was worried."Could it be? Malfoy didn't lie..but she took so many points from them? She gave them detention..oh, Merlin.."

"What is it, Minerva? You are looking pale." asked Professor Vector.

McGonagall shook her head.

Cassiopeia and Hermione didn't get a chance to answer. Madam Pomfrey came over at that moment and made them leave, saying Ron needed sleep.

"It's too late to change the plan now," Cass told Hermione. "We haven't got time to send Charlie another owl, and this could be our only chance to get rid of Norbert. We'll have to risk it. And we have got the invisibility cloak, Malfoy doesn't know about that."

"I do now," Draco muttered.

"And you will do nothing.. or else...you answer to me!" Adrian said through clenched teeth.

They found Fang, the boar hound, sitting outside with a bandaged tail when they went to tell Hagrid, who opened a window to talk to them.

"I won't let you in," he puffed. "Norbert's at a tricky stage — nothin' I can't handle."

"Well at least you didn't let them in.." Sirius said, feeling tired and nervous. 

When they told him about Charlie's letter, his eyes filled with tears, although that might have been because Norbert had just bitten him on the leg.

Charlie winced.

"Aargh! It's all right, he only got my boot — jus' playin' — he's only a baby, after all." The baby banged its tail on the wall, making the windows rattle.

Bill snorted. "Baby?" he asked incredulously.

Cassiopeia and Hermione walked back to the castle feeling Saturday couldn't come quickly enough.

Hermione shook her head "It was so stressful. I was so worried.." 

They would have felt sorry for Hagrid when the time came for him to say good-bye to Norbert if they hadn't been so worried about what they had to do. It was a very dark, cloudy night, and they were a bit late arriving at Hagrid's hut because they'd had to wait for Peeves to get out of their way in the entrance hall, where he'd been playing tennis against the wall. Hagrid had Norbert packed and ready in a large crate.

"He's got lots o' rats an' some brandy fer the journey," said Hagrid in a muffled voice. "An' I've packed his teddy bear in case he gets lonely."

The Hall burst out laughing.

"Mental that one," Ron said agreed with his past self. 

From inside the crate came ripping noises that sounded to Cassi as though the teddy was having his head torn off.

"You weren't wrong, Cassi" Charlie whispered. He remembered the state of the teddy really well.

"Bye-bye, Norbert!" Hagrid sobbed, as Cassiopeia and Hermione covered the crate with the invisibility cloak and stepped underneath it themselves. "Mommy will never forget you!"

George rolled his eyes. "Mommy..honestly, gender crisis, eh?"

Hagrid just smiled sheepishly. 

How they managed to get the crate back up to the castle, they never knew. Midnight ticked nearer as they heaved Norbert up the marble staircase in the entrance hall and along the dark corridors. Up another staircase, then another – even one of Cassiopeia's shortcuts didn't make the work much easier.

"Nearly there!" Cassiopeia panted as they reached the corridor beneath the tallest tower.

Then a sudden movement ahead of them made them almost drop the crate. Forgetting that they were already invisible, they shrank into the shadows,staring at the dark outlines of two people grappling with each other ten feet away. A lamp flared. Professor McGonagall, in a tartan bathrobe and a hair net, had Malfoy by the ear.

Everyone laughed.

"Blimey..I wish I could have seen it" chuckled Theo. 

"Detention!" she shouted. "And twenty points from Slytherin! Wandering around in the middle of the night, how dare you."

Draco scowled.

Minerva pursed her lips. "My apology, Mr Malfoy". 

She didn't sound very sorry, however.

"You don't understand, Professor. Cassiopeia Potter's coming — she's got a dragon!"

"Little shit," Cassius hissed.

"Did you really think she would buy that?" Theo asked.

Draco didn't answer. He was trying hard to ignore everyone.

"What utter rubbish! How dare you tell such lies! Come on — I shall see Professor Snape about you, Malfoy!"

Zabini snorted "Like he would do anything..it is Malfoy, after all".

Severus closed his eyes. He was feeling hurt, but deeply, very deeply he knew..he deserved that.

The steep spiral staircase up to the top of the tower seemed the easiest thing in the world after that. Not until they'd stepped out into the cold night air did they throw off the cloak, glad to be able to breathe properly again. Hermione did a sort of jig.

"Malfoy's got detention! I could sing!"

"Don't," Cassiopeia advised her.

"I was worried someone could be near..not that it helped at the end!" Cassiopeia said.

Many looked confused.

The lion house however, felt guilty and uncomfortable. "Oh...shit..that was the reason..bloody hell.."

Chuckling about Malfoy, they waited, Norbert thrashing about in his crate. About ten minutes later, four broomsticks came swooping down out of the darkness. Charlie's friends were a cheery lot.

Charlie grinned. "They were really excited to pick up a dragon from Hogwarts."

 

"And they didn't care about the danger..or about the fact that it wasn't legal?" asked Kingsley. Those dragons lovers were crazy lot.

They showed Cassiopeia and Hermione the harness they'd rigged up, so they could suspend Norbert between them. They all helped buckle Norbert safely into it and then Cass and Hermione shook hands with the others and thanked them very much.

"Yes, thank you from the bottom of my heart!" muttered Susan. She didn't like dragons that much.

At last, Norbert was going… going… gone.

"Thank Merlin." Several people said.

"I wouldn't say it just yet" Hermione said, feeling hurt and angry all over again, She was glaring at her housemates. The lot of them weren't meeting her eyes.

"Why not? The dragon is gone?" asked Terry confused. 

"Oh, you will see soon enough." Neville's voice was cold and unfriendly. 

McGonagall was ready to cry. 

 

They slipped back down the spiral staircase, their hearts as light as their hands, now that Norbert was off them. No more dragon — Malfoy in detention — what could spoil their happiness?

"Something bad is going to happen," Remus stated. It wasn't a question. 

The answer to that was waiting at the foot of the stairs. As they stepped into the corridor, Filch's face loomed suddenly out of the darkness.

"Well, well, well," he whispered, "we are in trouble."

The students groaned.

"But the cloak.." started Bill.

They'd left the invisibility cloak on top of the tower.

"Never mind.." Bill shook his head. 

"You have the worst luck ever, did you know?" asked them Tracey.

The trio look grim for some reason.

"That's the end of this chapter." Charlie said holding the book up.

"I would like to read." Justin said levitating the book to his table.

 

Chapter Text

                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                       Chapter 17.

 

Justin began to read, "The Forbidden Forest.", he looked up at the trio with fear in his eyes. "The bloody forest?"

"What?" Molly yelled. "Why would you be in the forbidden forest?" she demanded. "Was it your idea, Fred, George? I swear to Merlin if you thought it was funny for them to go there.."

"No, Missis Weasley, no! They had nothing to do with it, I swear!" Cassiopeia shouted, feeling hurt on the twins behalf. Why did she always blamed them?

"We were told to go for a detention," Hermione said.

"By who? Who would be irresponsible enough?" Remus demanded, voice deadly quiet.

"Professor McGonagall," Cassiopeia answered.

As one all the adults turned to stare at her..

"Minerva! You? Of all people and your own lions..?" Professor Sprout couldn't believe what she was hearing.

McGonagall looked uncomfortable. "Hagrid asked for them, I thought it would be best if they went with him.." she said.

Sirius narrowed his eyes "I don't like it. I really don't!" 

 

Things couldn't have been worse.

"Og yeah, they could have.." Cassiopeia sighed

"Yes," Hermione and Ron said. Clearly they were thinking about their forth year. The return of the most evil wizard alive. And the death of their fellow student..

Filch took them down to Professor McGonagall's study on the first floor, where they sat and waited without saying a word to each other. Hermione was trembling. Excuses, alibis, and wild cover-up stories chased each other around Cassiopeia's brain, each more feeble than the last.

George tried to joke. "You guys really need to learn how to lie properly"

"Be quiet!." Molly warned. 

She couldn't see how they were going to get out of trouble this time. They were cornered. How could they have been so stupid as to forget the cloak?

"Careless, not stupid. You were eleven after all" Tonks tried to make them feel better.

 

There was no reason on earth that Professor McGonagall would accept for their being out of bed and creeping around the school in the dead of night, let alone being up the tallest astronomy tower, which was out-of-bounds except for classes.

"You're right about that." Professor Sinistra muttered.

Add Norbert and the invisibility cloak, and they might as well be packing their bags already.

"You won't be expelled for being out past curfew." Sprout said. 

"Of course not! Some points would be taken or you get a detention.." Flitwick agreed.

Hermione and Cassiopeia look at each other. It was both. And it was horrible.

Had Cassiopeia thought that things couldn't have been worse? She was wrong. When Professor McGonagall appeared, she was leading Neville.

"Neville, why? He had nothing to do with it?!" Susan almost yelled.

Neville blushed crimson.

"It is simple. Neville was punished for being a good friend". whispered Cassiopeia. She still felt guilty.

Her godbrother shook his head "It wasn't your fault".

 

 

"Cassi!" Neville burst out, the moment he saw the other two. "I was trying to find you to warn you, I heard Malfoy saying he was going to catch you, he said you had a drag—"

 The room groaned.

Cassiopeia shook her head violently to shut Neville up, but Professor McGonagall had seen.

"She always sees everything," Sirius mumbled

"And we can thank you for that, Mister Black!" Minerva said sternly.

She looked more likely to breathe fire than Norbert as she towered over the three of them.

The twins snorted.

"Somehow I think she is much more dangerous than old Nerberta could ever be." said Fred, trying to sound sharp.

Cassi shrugged. "She was really mad."

Mr Filch says you were up in the astronomy tower. It's one o'clock in the morning. Explain yourselves."

It was the first time Hermione had ever failed to answer a teacher's question. She was staring at her slippers, as still as a statue.

Hermione sighed "I didn't know what to tell. The truth? She would never believe and after all we didn't want for Hagrid to be in trouble"

"Your loyalty to your friends is admirable" Professor Sprout said, smiling gently.

The Gryffindors felt horrible. Because they didn't do it for the sake of breaking the rules. Their did it to help Hagrid.

"I think I've got a good idea of what's been going on," said Professor McGonagall. "It doesn't take a genius to work it out. You fed Draco Malfoy some cock-and-bull story about a dragon, trying to get him out of bed and into trouble.

 

"Well, we can't blame Professor McGonagall here, I mean after all he had done and you guys were enemies" said Hannah weakly.

"And yet..it wouldn't hurt to listen to them" Susan said back.

I've already caught him. I suppose you think it's funny that Longbottom here heard the story and believed it, too?"

"No, thats not true! They would never!" Ron exclaimed.

" I agree with Ron here, Neville is their friend and Cass's godbrother. How could you think like that, Professor?" Bill questioned his former Head of the House,

Minerva sighed sadly. She knew she was wrong. Why didn't she see it before?

 

Cassiopeia caught Neville's eye and tried to tell him without words that this wasn't true, because Neville was looking stunned and hurt.

"I didn't believe you two would actually do that, it was just confusing. But I knew that even if you really wanted to trick Malfoy, you would never hurt me like that" Neville said. 

Poor, blundering Neville—Cassiopeia knew what it must have cost him to try and find them in the dark, to warn them.

"Thats proves Cassi's point. Nevill is great and worth hundreds of Malfoys. He tried to do his best by his friends!" Susan announced proudly.

"I'm disgusted," said Professor McGonagall. "Four students out of bed in one night! I've never heard of such a thing before!

Remus snorted. "Really Minerva, I mean reaaaalllyyy?" 

"Because if I remember correctly..." Sirius began

"Mister Black, Mister Lupin! Thats is enough. Obviously I didn't want to tell them about your adventurous and encourage such a thing!" Minerva exclaimed.

Snape sneered. 'They certainly don't need anymore encouraging.'

You, Miss Granger, I thought you had more sense. As for you, Miss Potter, I thought Gryffindor meant more to you than this.

"That was a really low," Dean said.

Fred and George winced. 

All three of you will receive detentions—yes, you too, Mr. Longbottom, nothing gives you the right to walk around school at night, especially these days, it's very dangerous—and fifty points will be taken from Gryffindor."

"Fifty?" Several students shouted incredulously. 

"But you only took twenty from Malfoy!" Seamus yelled

"I stand corrected! It wasn't fair!" Hannah shouted. She couldn't believe it. 

Fifty?" Cassiopeia gasped—they would lose the lead, the lead she'd won in the last Quidditch match.

Bill shook his head. "I feel you, I really feel your pain. After all you tried your hardest.."

"Fifty points each," said Professor McGonagall, breathing heavily through her long, pointed nose.

"What?" Most of the students in the hall yelled.

"That was too harsh Minerva," Vector said.

"I know." McGonagall sighed. "I was just so mad at the time,if only I could take it back."

"Wait."Alicia said, guilt all over her face. "That's what it was about..that day when we discovered so many points gone.." she suddenly became very white.

Angelina and Katie didn't meet anyone's eyes.

Hermione nodded, but didn't reply otherwise. Just the memory of it..she was getting mad.

Cassius narrowed his eyes. What did they do?

"Professor—please—"

"You can't—"

Sirius winced "Not going to work, bambi. When she gets like that..better to just run.."

"Don't tell me what I can and can't do, Potter. Now get back to bed, all of you. I've never been more ashamed of Gryffindor students."

Ron made a face "Really? Oh..because I can name one who brought much more shame!" he almost spat it.

Minerva was red. "I apologise, Miss Potter-Black, Miss Granger and Mister Longbottom. I was unfair to you" she said loudly.

A hundred and fifty points lost.

"That's too much just for being out past curfew," Terry said.

"They paid much more for it.." Luna whispered sadly.

The adults look at each other. 

"Whatever do you mean by that?!" hissed McGonagall  "If I discover that any of you bullied three first year students..help you Merlin!"

In that exact moment her House knew their were in for it. Even those of them, who graduated felt shame and guilt.

That put Gryffindor in last place. In one night, they'd ruined any chance Gryffindor had had for the house cup. Cassiopeia felt as though the bottom had dropped out of her stomach. How could they ever make up for this?

Cassi didn't sleep all night. She could hear Neville sobbing when he was going back to the boys dorm.

Neville turned red from embarrassment.

Molly smiled sadly at him "It wasn't your fault, my dear. And you shouldn't feel embarrass because you cried. It shows how much you house means to you" she said gently.

Cassiopeia couldn't think of anything to say to comfort him. She knew Neville, like herself, was dreading the dawn. What would happen when the rest of Gryffindor found out what they'd done?

The Gryffindors who were there when that happened looked ashamed. They remember ignoring them or being damn rude.

At first, Gryffindors passing the giant hourglasses that recorded the house points the next day thought there'd been a mistake. How could they suddenly have a hundred and fifty points fewer than yesterday? And then the story started to spread: Cassiopeia Potter, the famous Cassiopeia Potter, their hero of two Quidditch matches, had lost them all those points, her and a couple of other stupid first years.

Hermione huffed. "How very nice. Maybe next time one of you could try to save the school or help a friend."

"Or earn those points, like Cass and Hermione usually do" Neville said.

From being one of the most popular and admired people at the school, Cassiopeia was suddenly the most hated.

 

Even Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs turned on her, because everyone had been longing to see Slytherin lose the house cup.

"I do not believe I heard that correctly?!" Professor Sprout said sharply. Looking unhappy at her house. "I will be having words with you all. Make no mistake! I will not allow you to behave like a bunch of bullies!"

The members of her house were looking down in shame, afraid to see the eyes of Professor Sprout or Cassiopeia, Neville and Hermione.

"I agree, it seems that my house is not as intelligent, educated and open-minded as I would like to believe. It doesn't matter to me how many years have passed. The meeting considering your disrespectudful and scandalaous behaviour will be hold. Do I make myself clear?"Professor Flitwick said in unusually cold voice. His eyes shining with furry.

The Ravens all nodded, unable to say a word. And what could they? It was horrible, unfair, stupid of them. They behave like a bunch of sheeps.

Everywhere Cassiopeia went, people pointed and didn't trouble to lower their voices as they insulted her.

"Wow, could you actually sink lower? I mean to bully a first year?" Charlie hissed.

"That is no way to treat your fellow students!!" Professor Vector said in a stern voice.

"I am ashamed of all of you," Flitwick said.

Slytherins, on the other hand, clapped as she walked past them, whistling and cheering, "Thanks Potter, we owe you one!"

"I apologise on the behalf of my house. It maybe late for it, but I truly do. Myself and the others will make sure that no such behaviour will ever be demonstrated by a member of our House." said Adrian Pucey in a dangerous voice. 

Only Ron stood by her.

"Of course he would." Bill said. 

" Yes, I am glad that Ron did. However, I did not hear your names, Fred? George?" the voice of Mister Weasley wasn't gentle or kind. He looked right at his sons. Concern clearly on his face.

The twins avoided his eyes. They both were pale, hands shaking. 

"They'll all forget this in a few weeks. Fred and George have lost loads of points in all the time they've been here, and people still like them."

"Isn't it funny, eh? Fred, George? I mean you have lost so many points and for what reason? Just to prank and amuse yourself? " Ron hissed, looking angry.

George and Fred flinched at that.

"We really are sorry..we just.." started Fred.

"You two just behaved like the biggest hypocrites, thats what you did. I am not angry anymore, but we do remember it. Considering that not a single one of you apologised to us" Cassiopeia whispered in a cold and uncaring voice. It seems like she wanted to say it for a while. 

"We did. You are right. Fred and I..we are the last ones here who can speak about loosing points" George whispered, his eyes trying to catch Cassiopeia's.

"They've never lost a hundred and fifty points in one go, though, have they?" said Cassiopeia miserably.

"Well—no," Ron admitted.

It was a bit late to repair the damage, but Cassiopeia swore to herself not to meddle in things that weren't her business from now on.

Several people snorted.

"And what if she didn't? Most of you would be dead by now! I sure as hell wouldn't make it!" yelled Ginny, wand in her hand and ready to cure anyone.

Charlie and Bill looked at each other worriedly. What did Ginny mean by that?

She'd had it with sneaking around and spying.

 

She felt so ashamed of herself that she went to Wood and offered to resign from the Quidditch team.

"Are you mental?" Charlie gasped out. "How is that going to help. Your team wouldn't be able to win!"

"That's exactly what I said." Oliver said shaking his head, "And of course afterwards I did some educational work..lets say" 

The old team all flinched. Oliver shouted for an hour at them, shaming them all for their behaviour. And even promised either to train them to an early grave or to kick them all out.

"Resign?" Wood thundered. "What good'll that do? How are we going to get any points back if we can't win at Quidditch?"

"Exactly," Oliver said firmly. 

But even Quidditch had lost its fun. The rest of the team wouldn't speak to Cassiopeia during practice, and if they had to speak about her, they called her "the Seeker."

Molly turned to the twins. "How dare you two behave like that!"

"We're sorry!" The twins said, almost crying

But at that moment Minerva McGonagall had have enough " Your behaviour was a disgrace to the name of Gryffindor. I am ashamed of calling you one! How could you! If anyone told me that my lions were able of such cruelty I would have laughed in their faces. Make no mistakes, you will face the consequences of your actions! Absolute disgrace! 

The quidditch team looked ashamed.  The other members all were the perfect shade of red or white, from fear, guilt and shame.

"We really are sorry Cass," Alicia said.

"We should have know better," Katie said looking apologetic.

"We were being stupid," Angelina said.

Cassiopea nodded. "As I said I am not angry, but I do believe that you own us as much. No-one of you asked our side of the story. And the oldest students saw it fits to behave like that to the first years. You even brought my fame into it. That what made it so horrible."

" You are right. No-one asked any of you what it was about. We thought you were trying to get back at Malfoy. Some even suggested that you and Hermione went to kidnap Filch's cat." one of the seven years said, looking sorry, unsure and trying to smile at the same time.

Hermione snorted. "Yes, of course. It is always better to assume, wouldn't hurt to ask, no?" she yelled.

Many looked scared at her. It was common for her to behave like this.

Hermione and Neville were suffering, too. They didn't have as bad a time as Cassiopeia, because they weren't as well-known, but nobody would speak to them, either. Hermione had stopped drawing attention to herself in class, keeping her head down and working in silence.

"Merlin..how did I not notice?." Minerva mumbled to herself. It was all her fault. She failed them.

 

Cassiopeia was almost glad that the exams weren't far away. All the studying she had to do kept her mind off her misery.

Fred and George looked like they wanted to beg forgiveness. How could they? Even Percy didn't bully a first year student. They were disgusted with themselves.

She, Ron, and Hermione kept to themselves, working late into the night, trying to remember the ingredients in complicated potions, learn charms and spells by heart, memorize the dates of magical discoveries and goblin rebellions...

 

Then, about a week before the exams were due to start, Cassiopeia's new resolution not to interfere in anything that didn't concern her was put to an unexpected test.

 "I'm surprised you lasted that long." Sirius said, voice slightly amused.

Walking back from the library on her own one afternoon, she heard somebody whimpering from a classroom up ahead. As she drew closer, she heard Quirrell's voice.

"No—no—not again, please—"

"What's going on?" Ernie asked.

 

"Was it Snape with him?" Terry asked confused  

It sounded as though someone was threatening him. Cassiopeia moved closer.

"All right—all right—" he heard Quirrell sob.

"Coward," Ron muttered.

Next second, Quirrell came hurrying out of the classroom straightening his turban.

Moody raised an eyebrow at that. "Hm..interesting..something is really wrong with the guy. Snape is definitely innocent..well, in that case at least."

He was pale and looked as though he was about to cry. He strode out of sight; Cassiopeia didn't think Quirrell had even noticed her. She waited until Quirrell's footsteps had disappeared, then peered into the classroom.

"You need to stay out of everyone's business," Snape said.

Ron snorted. "Not going to happen."

It was empty,

"Where did the person threatening him go?" Tracey asked

"Not far, believe me." answered Ron, looking a bit green.

but a door stood ajar at the other end.

Cassiopeia was halfway toward it before she remembered what she'd promised herself about not meddling.

"At least you tried to remember..." Remus said amused. 

All the same, she'd have gambled twelve Philosopher's Stones that Snape had just left the room,

"Good thing you didn't make that bet." Hermione muttered.

and from what Cassiopeia had just heard, Snape would be walking with a new spring in his step—

Several people snickered.

Quirrell seemed to have given in at last.

"Surprised he lasted that long," Seamus muttered.

Cassiopeia went back to the library, where Hermione was testing Ron on Astronomy. Cassi told them what she'd heard.

Minerva sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose. "Of course."

"Snape's done it, then!" said Ron. "If Quirrell's told him how to break his Anti-Dark Force spell—"

The hall burst into laughter.

"Anti-dark force spell?" Bill grinned. "Really, Ron?"

"Shut up." Ron said, turning red.

"There's still Fluffy, though," said Hermione.

"Please, don't remind me!" Neville murmured.

"Maybe Snape's found out how to get past him without asking Hagrid," said Ron, looking up at the thousands of books surrounding them. "I bet there's a book somewhere in here telling you how to get past a giant three-headed dog. So what do we do, Cassi?"

"Nothing, you do nothing. It wasn't your responsibility" his mother said in a firm voice.

"And you better to stay out of trouble" warned them Remus, panic overtaking him.

The light of adventure was kindling again in Ron's eyes,

The adults all groaned.

"Those two..just like Black and Potter. The good thing is they have Miss Granger, just like Potter and Black had Mister Lupin" muttered Minerva.

but Hermione answered before Cassiopeia could.

"Go to Dumbledore. That's what we should have done ages ago.

"He wouldn't believe Snape was trying to steal the stone," Neville said.

" That and they didn't have enough evidence. At the end it was their word against Snape's" agreed with Neville Adrian.

If we try anything ourselves we'll be thrown out for sure."

"I doubt that," Parkinson sneered 

" And I doubt that you will have a pleasant time in Slytherin" Lily Moon warned her. 

Parkinson moved in her place uncomfortable.

Moon wasn't someone to mess with. She was a model Slytherin in the best way. Pansy wasn't a threat to her.

"But we've got no proof!" said Cassiopeia.

Adrian smiled at her. 

"Wow, Cassi and the snakyyyyy think alike" sing song George.

Said girl smirked "Well, great minds think alike after all."

That pleased Pucey a lot.

"Quirrell's too scared to back us up. Snape's only got to say he doesn't know how the troll got in at Halloween and that he was nowhere near the third floor—who do you think they'll believe, him or us? It's not exactly a secret we hate him, Dumbledore'll think we made it up to get him sacked.

"I would not think that," Dumbledore assured.

Snape raised an eyebrow. "You would believe them?!"

"Severus, I will always listen to my students. I won't act harsh of course, but I will take their words and keep a close eye on the events or person,however".

Snape didn't doubt it. After Potter's last year, Headmaster did keep a close eye on him. Did he believe that he, Severus, really sabotaged her training?

Filch wouldn't help us if his life depended on it, he's too friendly with Snape, and the more students get thrown out, the better, he'll think.

Filch shot the trio a dirty look and his lips curled in a nasty sort of smile.

And don't forget, we're not supposed to know about the Stone or Fluffy. That'll take a lot of explaining."

Hermione looked convinced, but Ron didn't.

"If we just do a bit of poking around—"

Arthur shook his head. 

"No," said Cassi flatly, "we've done enough poking around."

"So you do have self control?" asked Snape, looking surprised.

Cassiopeia ignored him.

She pulled a map of Jupiter toward her and started to learn the names of its moons.

The following morning, notes were delivered to Cassiopeia, Hermione, and Neville at the breakfast table. They were all the same:

Your detention will take place at eleven o'clock tonight.

Meet Mr. Filch in the entrance hall.

Professor McGonagall

That's late for a detention." Molly exclaimed.

"They are just children! And in the forest no less!" agreed her husband. 

'I have a bad feeling about this.' Tonks said, her hair turning dull brown.

Cassiopeia had forgotten they still had detentions to do in the furor over the points they'd lost. She half expected Hermione to complain that this was a whole night of studying lost, but she didn't say a word. Like Cassiopeia, she felt they deserved what they'd got.

"No you didn't." Daphne said quietly.

The girls gave her a small smile.

At eleven o'clock that night, they said good-bye to Ron in the common room and went down to the entrance hall with Neville. Filch was already there—and so was Malfoy. Cassiopeia had also forgotten that Malfoy had gotten a detention, too.

"It was all your fault! I didn't deserve it!" Malfoy complained.

"Oh no, you see..you actually did! No-one asked you to go after them. You did it all because you are obsessed with Cassiopeia!" said Blaise.

"Follow me," said Filch, lighting a lamp and leading them outside.

 

I bet you'll think twice about breaking a school rule again, won't you, eh?" he said, leering at them. "Oh yes... hard work and pain are the best teachers if you ask me... It's just a pity they let the old punishments die out... hang you by your wrists from the ceiling for a few days,

"He really shouldn't talk to the students like that," Amelia exclaimed.

Dumbledore gave him a warning look. "As long as I am the Headmaster of this school no such a punishment will be allowed!".

I've got the chains still in my office, keep 'em well oiled in case they're ever needed...

Dumbledore shook his head, he would need to have words with both Filch, and Snape.

McGonagall was thinking among the same lines. Her lips pressed tight. 

Right, off we go, and don't think of running off, now, it'll be worse for you if you do."

The teachers were glaring at Filch.

They marched off across the dark grounds. Neville kept sniffing. Cassiopeia wondered what their punishment was going to be. It must be something really horrible, or Filch wouldn't be sounding so delighted.

"He loves it, when we are all miserable." Seamus said. He remembered well how happy Filch was with Umbitch.

 

The moon was bright, but clouds scudding across it kept throwing them into darkness. Ahead, Cassi could see the lighted windows of Hagrid's hut. Then they heard a distant shout.

"Is that you, Filch? Hurry up, I want ter get started."

Cassiopeia's heart rose; if they were going to be working with Hagrid it wouldn't be so bad.

Hagrid smiled, he was happy that their trusted him so much.

Her relief must have showed in her face, because Filch said, "I suppose you think you'll be enjoying yourself with that oaf? Well, think again, girl—it's into the forest you're going and I'm much mistaken if you'll all come out in one piece."

"Argus!" Professor Sprout yelled.

"That is no way to talk to students," Minerva said sharply.

Argus muttered something under his breath.

At this, Neville let out a little moan, and Malfoy stopped dead in his tracks.

"The forest?" he repeated, and he didn't sound quite as cool as usual. "We can't go in there at night—there's all sorts of things in there—werewolves, I heard."

Remus chuckled. "Not anymore."

Neville clutched the sleeve of Cassi's robe and made a choking noise.

"Don't blame you one bit, mate. I would have fainted myself" Dean assured his friend.

"That's your problem, isn't it?" said Filch, his voice cracking with glee. "Should've thought of them werewolves before you got in trouble, shouldn't you?"

" And you think it was cool? Scaring them like that? How disgusting!" shouted Tonks, her hair red.

Hagrid came striding toward them out of the dark, Fang at his heel. He was carrying his large crossbow, and a quiver of arrows hung over his shoulder.

"Why would he need a crossbow?" Astoria asked confused and worried.

"Safety precaution," Hagrid said.

Needless to say his words did not comfort anyone. Molly look ready to faint.

"Abou' time," he said. "I bin waitin' fer half an hour already. All right, Cassi, Hermione, Neville?"

"I shouldn't be too friendly to them, Hagrid," said Filch coldly, they're here to be punished, after all."

Ron rolled his eyes "Bloddy git!" 

His mother was so worried, she didn't say anything to him.

"That's why yer late, is it?" said Hagrid, frowning at Filch. "Bin lecturin' them, eh? 'Snot your place ter do that. Yeh've done yer bit, I'll take over from here."

"Thanks Merlin for Hagrid." Sirius said.

"I'll be back at dawn," said Filch, "for what's left of them,"

Many glares were sent to Filch who scowled back.

"Horrid man" muttered Kingsley.

he added nastily, and he turned and started back toward the castle, his lamp bobbing away in the darkness.

Malfoy now turned to Hagrid. "I'm not going in that forest," he said, and Cassiopeia was pleased to hear the note of panic in his voice.

"Thanks, Potter" Malfoy said sarcastically 

" It is Potter-Black and you are welcome." the girl just smirked. 

"Yeh are if yeh want ter stay at Hogwarts," said Hagrid fiercely. "Yeh've done wrong an' now yehve got ter pay fer it."

"But this is servant stuff, it's not for students to do. I thought we'd be copying lines or something, if my father knew I was doing this, he'd—"

Many students rolled their eyes.

"My father..my father..bla bla.." your father has no power on the school grounds, did you forget?" Theo snorted.

"—tell yer that's how it is at Hogwarts," Hagrid growled. "Copyin' lines! What good's that ter anyone. Yeh'll do summat useful or yeh'll get out. If yeh think yer father'd rather you were expelled, then get back off ter the castle an' pack. Go on."

Draco turned his glare onto Hagrid.

Malfoy didn't move. He looked at Hagrid furiously, but then dropped his gaze.

Collin and Dennis smiled smugly.

"Right then," said Hagrid, "now, listen carefully, 'cause it's dangerous what we're gonna do tonight, an' I don' want no one takin' risks. Follow me over here a moment."

"If its so dangerous then why are they doing it?" Molly almost cried.

"Exactly, you shouldn't risk the life of your students, for Merlins sake!" Amelia yelled. She didn't like this all detention business one bit. 

Minerva looked down. 

He led them to the very edge of the forest. Holding his lamp up high, he pointed down a narrow, winding earth track that disappeared into the thick black trees. A light breeze lifted their hair as they looked into the forest.

"Look there," said Hagrid, "see that stuff shinin' on the ground? Silvery stuff? That's unicorn blood. There's a unicorn in there bin hurt badly by summat.

"What in the world could hurt a unicorn?" Tonks asked faintly.

"What could catch one?." Bill asked, nervously.

" Dear Merlin! I did not know that was the reason Hagrid asked for them to come!" cried Minerva, face pale.

 

This is the second time in a week. I found one dead last Wednesday. We're gonna try an' find the poor thing. We might have ter put it out of its misery."

Luna couldn't hold her tears "Only a monster could hurt something so pure" she whispered, her beautiful and dreamy smile gone.

Parma grabbed her hand, trying to comfort her. But she wasn't looking better herself. 

You don't have to be a Ravenclaw to figure out that something horrible was going to happen. The teachers, all the adults were pale, their eyes wide in fear.

 

"And what if whatever hurt the unicorn finds us first?" said Malfoy, unable to keep the fear out of his voice.

"I really hate to say it, but he made a very good point." Bill said reluctantly.

"There's nothin' that lives in the forest that'll hurt yeh if yer with me or Fang,"

Ron and Cassiopeia both snorted. 

"Well, Fang is a coward, cute and sweet, but a coward" Cassiopeia pointed out.

" Yeah..not to mention that there is someone who could really hurt you" Ron said grimly, remembering the bloody spider.

said Hagrid. "An' keep ter the path. Right, now, we're gonna split inter two parties an' follow the trail in diff'rent directions.

"No!" Many people yelled.

"You can't split! They are children! How could you protect them?!" Molly yelled.

There's blood all over the place, it must've bin staggerin' around since last night at least."

Andromeda looked like she was going to be sick. "Now, I know that many members of my family were really twisted, but even my or Sirius's parents wouldn't do it!" 

Sirius nodded, unable to speak.

"I want Fang," said Malfoy quickly, looking at Fang's long teeth.

 

"All right, but I warn yeh, he's a coward,"

"If you know that then why are you splitting?" Amelia snapped.

Hagrid looked sheepish.

said Hagrid. " So me, Cassiopeia, an' Hermione'll go one way an' Draco, Neville, an' Fang'll go the other.

"That's not going to work well," Parvati moaned

"Trust me, it didn't." groaned Neville.

 

Now, if any of us finds the unicorn, we'll send up green sparks, right? Get yer wands out an' practice now— that's it—an' if anyone gets in trouble, send up red sparks, an' we'll all come an' find yeh—so, be careful—let's go."

The forest was black and silent. A little way into it they reached a fork in the earth path, and Cassiopeia, Hermione, and Hagrid took the left path while Malfoy, Neville, and Fang took the right.

The room was growing tense.

They walked in silence, their eyes on the ground. Every now and then a ray of moonlight through the branches above lit a spot of silver-blue blood on the fallen leaves.

Cassiopeia saw that Hagrid looked very worried.

"How very reassuring," Roger muttered.

"Could a werewolf be killing the unicorns?" she asked.

Remus shook his head "Not fast enough."

"I know that now..and I will keep that in mind for the next time" Cassiopeia said.

" Next time?! The won't be next time, young lady!" exclaimed her godfather.

Ron snorted. 

Cassiopeia tried to give them all an innocent smile.

Her family and friends all groaned.

"Not fast enough," said Hagrid. "It's not easy ter catch a unicorn, they're powerful magic creatures. I never knew one ter be hurt before."

They walked past a mossy tree stump. Cassi could hear running water; there must be a stream somewhere close by. There were still spots of unicorn blood here and there along the winding path.

"You all right, Hermione?" Hagrid whispered. "Don' worry, it can't've gone far if it's this badly hurt, an' then we'll be able ter—GET BEHIND THAT TREE!"

"What's wrong?" Molly asked quickly.

"What's happening." shouted Remus.

McGonagall was now as pale as ghost.

Hagrid seized Cassiopeia and Hermione and hoisted them off the path behind a towering oak. He pulled out an arrow and fitted it into his crossbow, raising it, ready to fire. The three of them listened. Something was slithering over dead leaves nearby: it sounded like a cloak trailing along the ground.

Hagrid was squinting up the dark path, but after a few seconds, the sound faded away.

"I knew it, he murmured. "There's summat in here that shouldn' be."

"Get them out of there," Molly snapped.

"A werewolf?" Cassi suggested.

Remus chuckled "Honestly, was it the only creature you knew?"

"Mmm, pretty much, yeah" answered his cub.

"Horrible DADA teacher.." Tonks muttered to herself.

"That wasn' no werewolf an' it wasn' no unicorn, neither," said Hagrid grimly. "Right, follow me, but careful, now."

They walked more slowly, ears straining for the faintest sound. Suddenly, in a clearing ahead, something definitely moved.

"Who's there?" Hagrid called. "Show yerself—I'm armed!"

And into the clearing came—was it a man, or a horse?

"A centaur," Charlie sighed in relief.

To the waist, a man, with red hair and beard, but below that was a horse's gleaming chestnut body with a long, reddish tail. Cassiopeia and Hermione's jaws dropped.

"I'd never seen a centaur before.Its not like they walk around in the Muggle world" Hermione tried to defend their reaction.

"Oh, it's you, Ronan," said Hagrid in relief. "How are yeh?"

He walked forward and shook the centaur's hand.

"Good evening to you, Hagrid," said Ronan. He had a deep, sorrowful voice. "Were you going to shoot me?"

Cormac snorted. "And what if he was.?"

Hagrid looked scandalised.

" For the sake of Merlin and Morgana, don't open your moth!" Fred said sternly.

"Can't be too careful, Ronan," said Hagrid, patting his crossbow. "There's summat bad loose in this forest. This is Cassiopeia Potter an' Hermione Granger, by the way. Students up at the school. An' this is Ronan, you two. He's a centaur."

"We'd noticed," said Hermione faintly.

Many snorted.

"Good evening," said Ronan. "Students, are you? And do you learn much, up at the school?"

"Erm—"

"A bit," said Hermione timidly.

"A bit?" Terry asked incredulously.

"If you only learned a bit then we all should just leave" Padma said.

Hermione blushed.

"A bit. Well, that's something." Ronan sighed. He flung back his head and stared at the sky. "Mars is bright tonight."

"Mars represents war," Luna whispered. "the brighter the colour the sooner."

"Yeah," said Hagrid, glancing up, too. "Listen, I'm glad we've run inter yeh, Ronan, 'cause there's a unicorn bin hurt—you seen anythin'?"

Ronan didn't answer immediately. He stared unblinkingly upward, then sighed again.

"Always the innocent are the first victims," he said. "So it has been for ages past, so it is now."

Cassiopeia looked sad, trying to fight her tears. "And so it was.." she whispered, voice croaked.

Many looked confused..

"Cedric was the first casualty of this war and he was an innocent" Luna answered their silent question.

Sprout started to sob.

Many of the Hufflepuffs couldn't hold their tears, they all looked down.

"I hate that word..casualty..how I hate it." Cassiopeia whispered so only those near could hear her.

Sirius hugged her tight and started to massage her shoulders in a comforting way.

How he hated it too. Only Merlin Knew.

"Yeah," said Hagrid, "but have yeh seen anythin', Ronan? Anythin' unusual?"

"Mars is bright tonight," Ronan repeated, while Hagrid watched him impatiently. "Unusually bright."

Luna sighed "It was a clue."

"If only we knew.." Hermione murmured.

"Yeah, but I was meanin' anythin' unusual a bit nearer home, said Hagrid. "So yeh haven't noticed anythin' strange?"

Yet again, Ronan took a while to answer. At last, he said, "The forest hides many secrets."

"Why can't he just give a straight answer?" Anthony demanded.

" Because they can't. They swore not to get involved with the humans and yet..he tried help.." Hermione answered

A movement in the trees behind Ronan made Hagrid raise his bow again, but it was only a second centaur, black-haired and -bodied and wilder-looking than Ronan.

"Hullo, Bane," said Hagrid. "All right?"

"Good evening, Hagrid, I hope you are well?"

"Well enough. Look, I've jus' bin askin' Ronan, you seen anythin' odd in here lately? There's a unicorn bin injured—would yeh know anythin' about it?"

Bane walked over to stand next to Ronan. He looked skyward.

"Mars is bright tonight," he said simply.

"Bloody hell," Charlie muttered.

"We've heard," said Hagrid grumpily. "Well, if either of you do see anythin', let me know, won't yeh? We'll be off, then."

Cassiopeia and Hermione followed him out of the clearing, staring over their shoulders at Ronan and Bane until the trees blocked their view.

"Never," said Hagrid irritably, "try an' get a straight answer out of a centaur. Ruddy stargazers. Not interested in anythin' closer'n the moon."

Fred and George snickered.

"Are there many of them in here?" asked Hermione.

"Oh, a fair few... Keep themselves to themselves mostly, but they're good enough about turnin' up if ever I want a word. They're deep, mind, centaurs... they know things... jus' don' let on much."

"D'you think that was a centaur we heard earlier?" said Cassiopeia.

"Did that sound like hooves to you? Nah, if yeh ask me, that was what's bin killin' the unicorns—never heard anythin' like it before."

They walked on through the dense, dark trees. Cassiopeia kept looking nervously over her shoulder. She had the nasty feeling they were being watched.

"Always trust your instincts and remember CONSTANT VIGILANCE!" yelled Moody

"Alastor! Now it is not the right time!" Minerva tried to keep him from shouting

"Its is always the right time, Minerva! Do you want them to survive or not?!" he shouted back

She was very glad they had Hagrid and his crossbow with them. They had just passed a bend in the path when Hermione grabbed Hagrid's arm.

"What's happening?" Molly moaned.

"Hagrid! Look! Red sparks, the others are in trouble!"

"Oh no!" Susan yelled.

The room began more tense than ever.

"You two wait here!" Hagrid shouted. "Stay on the path, I'll come back for yeh!"

"He left you two alone!" Andromeda hissed.

 

They heard him crashing away through the undergrowth and stood looking at each other, very scared, until they couldn't hear anything but the rustling of leaves around them.

"You don't think they've been hurt, do you?" whispered Hermione.

"I don't care if Malfoy has, but if something's got Neville... it's our fault he's here in the first place."

"Thanks for worrying about me." Neville gave a small smile.

"Always, Nev," Cassiopeia smiled back.

The minutes dragged by. Their ears seemed sharper than usual. Cassiopia's seemed to be picking up every sigh of the wind, every cracking twig.

"Good senses, will save you one day" Moody grunted.

What was going on? Where were the others?

At last, a great crunching noise announced Hagrid's return. Malfoy, Neville, and Fang were with him. Hagrid was fuming. Malfoy, it seemed, had sneaked up behind Neville and grabbed him as a joke. Neville had panicked and sent up the sparks.

"Mr. Malfoy!" surprisedly it was Snape who yelled "Do you have any idea how irresponsible it was!"

"That was very foolish of you,indeed" Kingsley said sternly.

"The boy would never be an auror. And I would never allow him into the battlefield" Amelia nodded, very upset with his behaviour.

"Nothing to worry then. Malfoy had another career on his horizons, far from being an auror.." Ron sneered.

Draco was pink. He was upset that Professor Snape called on him in front of everyone. That showed how made at him he truly was.

"We'll be lucky ter catch anythin' now, with the racket you two were makin'. Right, we're changin' groups—Neville, you stay with me an' Hermione, Cass, you go with Fang an' this idiot.

"Of course you get stuck with the git," Ron said unhappy

I'm sorry," Hagrid added in a whisper to Cassiopeia, "but he'll have a harder time frightenin' you, an' we've gotta get this done."

"That's true," Moody said.

" Doesn't mean we have to like it!" Remus exclaimed.

So Cassiopeia set off into the heart of the forest with Malfoy and Fang. They walked for nearly half an hour, deeper and deeper into the forest, until the path became almost impossible to follow because the trees were so thick.

"I don't like the sound of this." Sirius said, hugging Cassiopeia closer to himself.

Cassiopeia thought the blood seemed to be getting thicker. There were splashes on the roots of a tree, as though the poor creature had been thrashing around in pain close by. Cassiopeia could see a clearing ahead, through the tangled branches of an ancient oak.

"Look—" she murmured, holding out her arm to stop Malfoy.

" You are too kind. Trying to protect even the git. He didn't deserve it!" Zabini said, voice betraying his calm face.

"I know he didn't. But I never wanted him dead." Cassiopeia said gently.

Adrian sigh. His nerves were high. Something was telling him, that being with Cassiopeia means being close to a breakdown every once in a while.

Something bright white was gleaming on the ground. They inched closer.

It was the unicorn all right, and it was dead. Cassiopeia had never seen anything so beautiful and sad. Its long, slender legs were stuck out at odd angles where it had fallen and its mane was spread pearly-white on the dark leaves.

Many girls had tears rolling down their cheeks.

Cassiopeia had taken one step toward it when a slithering sound made her freeze where she stood.

"Oh no, please be safe," Arthur said paling.

A bush on the edge of the clearing quivered... Then, out of the shadows, a hooded figure came crawling across the ground like some stalking beast.

Everyone in the room sucked in a breath.

Ron kept glancing at his best friend, trying to remind himself that she was there. But just the mere thought of how close he came to losing her..it was horrible.

Cassiopeia, Malfoy, and Fang stood transfixed. The cloaked figure reached the unicorn, lowered its head over the wound in the animal's side, and began to drink its blood.

Everyone paled.

"It did WHAT?" Tonks shouted.

"That..that..I don't even have words for it!" cried Andromeda, shaking 

"AAAAAAAAAARGH!"

Malfoy let out a terrible scream and bolted—so did Fang.

 The Gryffindors turned to glare at Draco.

"After she tried to protect you..You just left her there!! Ungrateful brat!!" yelled a seven year lion

The hooded figure raised its head and looked right at Cassiopeia—unicorn blood was dribbling down its front.

"Oh Merlin," Padma whispered.

"This thing is absolutely disgusting, not even the Dark Lord would do something like that" muttered Graham Montague.

Cassiopeia didn't know him that well, but she knew his father was a Death eater. She smirked to herself. Maybe those books will actually help. He obviously seems repulsive of someone hurting a unicorn and drinking it blood. Lets see..how the next events will affect him.

It got to its feet and came swiftly toward Cassiopeia—she couldn't move for fear.

"Don't freeze now," Moody yelled.

Then a pain like she'd never felt before pierced her head; it was as though her scar were on fire.

"What? Why? But Cassi..you scar only gets like this when..oh my!" Remus paled drastically, He understood what it was.

 

 

"What is it, Professor Lupin? Whats going on?!" Adrian asked him worriedly. 

Remus couldn't form a reply. He was ready to faint.

Half blinded, she staggered backward. She heard hooves behind her, galloping, and something jumped clean over Cassiopeia, charging at the figure.

The pain in Cassi's head was so bad she fell to her knees. It took a minute or two to pass. When she looked up, the figure had gone. A centaur was standing over her, not Ronan or Bane; this one looked younger; he had white-blond hair and a palomino body.

"Firenze," Dumbledore sigh, grateful for what he did.

"Are you all right?" said the centaur, pulling Cass to her feet.

"Yes—thank you—what was that?"

 "He won't tell you, he'll just give you more riddles. I am surprised he helped at all." Professor Vector said, voice low.

"Firenze is a different story.." Dumbledore informed them. But didn't elaborate more.

The centaur didn't answer. He had astonishingly blue eyes, like pale sapphires. He looked carefully at Cassiopeia, his eyes lingering on the scar that stood out, livid, on her forehead.

"You are the Potter girl," he said.

"Famous everywhere, I see" sneered Parkinson.

"You had better get back to Hagrid. The forest is not safe at this time—especially for you. Can you ride? It will be quicker this way. My name is Firenze," he added, as he lowered himself on to his front legs so that Cass could clamber onto his back.

Everyone turned to gape at  her.

"He let you ride him?" Professor Vector asked, clearly shocked.

"Wicked." Collin said 

There was suddenly a sound of more galloping from the other side of the clearing. Ronan and Bane came bursting through the trees, their flanks heaving and sweaty.

"Firenze!" Bane thundered. "What are you doing? You have a human on your back! Have you no shame? Are you a common mule?"

 

"He was trying to save Cassi. Bloody hell, what is wrong with that Bane guy!" yelled half of the Hall.

"Do you realize who this is?" said Firenze. "This is the Potter girl. The quicker she leaves this forest, the better."

"I agree with Firenze!" Tonks murmured 

"What have you been telling her?" growled Bane.

"Remember, Firenze, we are sworn not to set ourselves against the heavens. Have we not read what is to come in the movements of the planets?"

Ronan pawed the ground nervously. "I'm sure Firenze thought he was acting for the best, " he said in his gloomy voice.

Bane kicked his back legs in anger. "For the best! What is that to do with us? Centaurs are concerned with what has been foretold! It is not our business to run around like donkeys after stray humans in our forest!"

Firenze suddenly reared on to his hind legs in anger, so that Cassiopeia had to grab his shoulders to stay on.

"Do you not see that unicorn?" Firenze bellowed at Bane. "Do you not understand why it was killed? Or have the planets not let you in on that secret? I set myself against what is lurking in this forest, Bane, yes, with humans alongside me if I must."

"Go Firenze!" George and Fred yelled.

"Remind me to thank him!" Sirius muttered to Remus.

And Firenze whisked around; with Cassiopeia clutching on as best she could, they plunged off into the trees, leaving Ronan and Bane behind them.

Cassiopeia didn't have a clue what was going on.

"I don't blame you mate," Ron said.

"Neither do I." agreed Seamus

"Why's Bane so angry?" she asked. "What was that thing you saved me from, anyway?"

"I think we all would like to know!" Minerva said.

Firenze slowed to a walk, warned Cassi to keep her head bowed in case of low-hanging branches, but did not answer her question.

"No surprise here.." muttered Ernie, still too shaken after the events.

They made their way through the trees in silence for so long that Cassi thought Firenze didn't want to talk to her anymore. They were passing through a particularly dense patch of trees, however, when Firenze suddenly stopped.

"Cassiopeia Potter, do you know what unicorn blood is used for?"

"No," said Cassiopeia, startled by the odd question. "We've only used the horn and tail hair in Potions."

"And that is exactly how it will be. If I have any say about it!" Snape said sternly, looking sick.

"That is because it is a monstrous thing, to slay a unicorn," said Firenze.

All of the adults nodded their heads.

"It's truly horrible, one of the worst crimes imaginable" agreed Amelia.

By now every single person felt tense. Just how much danger Cassiopeia was in?

"Only one who has nothing to lose, and everything to gain, would commit such a crime. The blood of a unicorn will keep you alive, even if you are an inch from death, but at a terrible price. You have slain something pure and defenseless to save yourself, and you will have but a half-life, a cursed life, from the moment the blood touches your lips."

"Why would anyone want that?" Daphne whispered, shocked to her core.

Cassiopeia stared at the back of Firenze's head, which was dappled silver in the moonlight.

"But who'd be that desperate?" she wondered aloud. "If you're going to be cursed forever, death's better, isn't it?"

"Yes." Cassiopeia and many others said in unison.

Many pureblood were among them. 

"It is," Firenze agreed, "unless all you need is to stay alive long enough to drink something else—something that will bring you back to full strength and power—something that will mean you can never die. Miss. Potter, do you know what is hidden in the school at this very moment?"

"The Sorcerer's Stone!" Terry Boot yelled.

"The Sorcerer's Stone! Of course—the Elixir of Life! But I don't understand who—"

"You better to listen carefully, Montague" Cassiopeia said.

Graham stared at her. His face twitching, eyes growing bigger by second..face turning greener.

"Can you think of nobody who has waited many years to return to power, who has clung to life, awaiting their chance?"

It was as though an iron fist had clenched suddenly around Cassi's heart. Over the rustling of the trees, she seemed to hear once more what Hagrid had told her on the night they had met: "Some say he died. Codswallop, in my opinion. Dunno if he had enough human left in him to die."

" Dear Salazar..Dear Salazar..I knew the Dark Lord crossed many boundaries..but this! I could never be by his side!" Montague almost felt from his chair. He was shaking. 

He hissed to Lily Moon "I do not care what our parents may want or think. I will never take his mark, I will never serve someone like that. He will destroy us all. The magic herself will punish him." 

Lily nodded her head " He is cursed in a worst possible way. But he deserves it, Graham. How many did he killed, tortured? I was telling you to stay away from all that dirt" she whispered to her old friend.

Many Slytherins were green. They look as they were ready to vomit.

Malfoy was gaping like a fish "That was THE Dark Lord..bloody hell..."

"Do you mean," Cassiopeia croaked, "that was Vol-"

"NO!" Umbridge shouted.

"Yes," Ron,Cassiopeia and Hermione said defiantly.

"He was there? On the school grounds? With our children?!" Molly was shouting, her face turning red. 

"I am afraid so, Molly" Dumbledore sigh.

"Albus! You should have informed the Ministry!" Kingsley exclaimed.

But Cassiopeia shook her head. "And would they believe?"

The Ministry workers looked sheepish.

"Cassiopeia! Cassi, are you all right?"

Hermione was running toward them down the path, Hagrid puffing along behind her.

"I was so scared that you were hurt," Hermione said, shaking.

"I'm fine," said Cassi, hardly knowing what she was saying.

Ron snorted "Mate, I hate to break it to you, but your definition of "fine" is far from the world one's" 

"The unicorn's dead, Hagrid, it's in that clearing back there."

"This is where I leave you," Firenze murmured as Hagrid hurried off to examine the unicorn. "You are safe now."

The trio snorted.

Cassiopeia slid off his back.

"Good luck, Cassiopeia Potter," said Firenze. "The planets have been read wrongly before now, even by centaurs. I hope this is one of those times."

"If only," Cass whispered sadly, Cedric lifeless eyes still hunting her.

He turned and cantered back into the depths of the forest, leaving Cassiopeia shivering behind him.

Ron had fallen asleep in the dark common room, waiting for them to return.

"You are such a good friend" murmured Professor Sprout 

He shouted something about Quidditch fouls when Cassiopeia roughly shook him awake.

Fred and George chuckled.

In a matter of seconds, though, he was wide-eyed as Cassiopeia began to tell him and Hermione what had happened in the forest.

Cassiopeia couldn't sit down. She paced up and down in front of the fire. She was still shaking.

"So much for being fine!" Hermione said in her motherly voice. 

Molly was trying hard not to run over to the girl she considered her daughter.

"Snape wants the stone for Voldemort...and Voldemort's waiting in the forest... and all this time we thought Snape just wanted to get rich..."

"Stop saying the name!" said Ron in a terrified whisper, as if he thought Voldemort could hear them.

"Cassiopeia? Stop saying his name..pff, not going to happen, mate!" Neville snorted.

 Cassiopeia wasn't listening.

Ron rolled his eyes. Why he even tried?

"Firenze saved me, but he shouldn't have done so...

"Don't say that," Remus said sharply.

Bane was furious... he was talking about interfering with what the planets say is going to happen... They must show that Voldemort'scoming back... Bane thinks Firenze should have let Voldemort kill me... I suppose that's written in the stars as well."

Many of her friends flinched at that.

"Please, don't say it. Never say it!" Molly sobbed.

"Will you stop saying the name!" Ron hissed.

"So all I've got to wait for now is Snape to steal the Stone,"

Snape ground his teeth.

Cassiopeia went on feverishly, "then Voldemort will be able to come and finish me off... Well, I suppose Bane'll be happy."

"No, my dear girl, trust me, Bane would never wished for it." Dumbledore said sadly.

Hermione looked very frightened, but she had a word of comfort. "Cassi, everyone says Dumbledore's the only one You-Know-Who was ever afraid of. With Dumbledore around, You-Know-Who won't touch you. Anyway, who says the centaurs are right? It sounds like fortune-telling to me, and Professor McGonagall says that's a very imprecise branch of magic."

"Usually yes, but not in that case." Minerva sighed.

The sky had turned light before they stopped talking. They went to bed exhausted, their throats sore. But the night's surprises weren't over.

"Now what?" groaned Tonks

When Cassi pulled back her sheets, she found her invisibility cloak folded neatly underneath them. There was a note pinned to it:

Just in case

The teachers groaned.

"Really, Albus?!" Minerva hissed.

"Albus Dumbledore! Do not encourage them to get into more trouble! They are doing their best as it is!!" shouted Molly.

Dumbledore tried not to look at her. Molly Weasley..well, he didn't want to face her when it was about her children.

"The chapter is over, by the way" Justin said weakly. He thought he needed a drink.