This could be my last goodbye
You cross your heart, I hope to die
And I can't deny your eyes
You know I try to read between the lines
I saw a warning sign
And then you threw me up against the wall-Up Against the Wall, Boys Like Girls
Cassie CrescentI was free.
My mother had gotten remarried-again.
This husband fit the usual mould; rich, dumb and intolerant. I was ecstatic at my quick escape from spending any extended period of time with my mother’s fourth husband. Or was it her fifth?
I was losing track. How pitiful.
I hadn't bothered to learn his name-though it may have started with an ‘L’.
He was simply number four...or five, and he would be gone by the time I got back home next year anyway.
I smiled at the sight of James Potter’s rather large house. All the other Marauders were there already, Sirius having narrowly escaped after a mere month.
Walking up to the front door across the neatly manicured lawn, I laughed under my breath; Mr. Potter took his yard very seriously.
I stifled a giggle at the thought of all the boys already there waiting for me to join them. Merlin only knew what they were up to. Last time I had left them alone they ended up lost in the woods behind James's house; they didn't like to talk about the incident.
The last two years had flown by so quickly that I seemed to recall it all as a blur of classes, pranks and friends. We were due to start third year this September.
Amazingly, the Marauders had managed to keep themselves anonymous, which was quite the accomplishment.
Whenever gossip ran scarce, or a new prank was unleashed upon Slytherin house, talk inevitably turned to the Marauders. Who were they?
We found peoples’ curiosity to be deeply amusing, because we weren‘t even on the suspect list due to our ages.
I smirked, knowing the anonymity wouldn't last. The guys were just too big headed to keep the secret for long.
There had also been many close calls when it came to my secret. I knew that my friends were suspicious that something was up but they hadn't asked yet.
I hoped to keep it that way for a while at least. I knew they were too smart and perceptive not to notice that something was off, especially Remus. In fact I had a feeling he was keeping a secret of his own.
Eventually I would have to tell them, but for now everyone was happy not knowing.
I raised my hand to the door, which flew open before I could knock
“Cassie!” I heard four male voices cry out and without further ado, I was pulled through the door into the large entry room, laughing as each of the Marauders gave me a hug.
“Guys, it's been a month! You can't have missed me that much!” I exclaimed.
Sirius and James laughed while Peter and Remus rolled their eyes almost in unison. “You try and spend a day with these two without you here too!” Remus complained.
“It's always ‘Cassie this, Cassie that. When’s Cassie getting here?' ” Peter mocked
“What can we say?” Sirius said looking at me with a huge grin as he gave me another rib cracking hug that lifted me off of the ground-I hated being the shortest in the group- “You are the marauder princess after all...besides we're lost without you, we couldn't even plan a prank properly.”
I snorted. James had started calling me princess when he realized how much the other marauders pampered me and the rest of them had picked it up with great sarcastic enthusiasm.
“Well at least you can recognize royalty when you see it!” I complimented imperiously trying and failing at not laughing.
James grabbed my trunk, “Come on princess, mum's already made up your usual room for you.”
I laughed at the pet name, “Thanks James, I never would have been able to carry that whole suitcase on my own.” I rolled my eyes as James nodded in agreement just to annoy me.
“I was joking I'm perfectly capable of carrying my own things!” I mumbled grumpily.
Sirius chortled from behind me, “He's quite right, Cassie. In fact, we can't let you walk up all those stairs on your own either. That is what us mere peasants are for!”
I growled when he picked me up and I tried to kick him but he held my legs still.
He just laughed.
“Sirius Clideus Black! Put me down this instant!”
He gave me an extra shake as he threw me over his shoulder potato sack style for the unauthorized use of his middle name.
“Sorry Cassie Cremlit Crescent! But as you are a princess you really shouldn't strain yourself.” he said putting an extra emphasis on my middle name.
“At least my middle name doesn't rhyme with-” He clapped a hand over my mouth while using the other to keep me from wiggling free.
I was infuriated, so I did what any proper lady would do in my situation.
I licked his hand.
“Ew.” Sirius commented in a rather bored tone as he wiped his hand off on the leg of my muggle pants.
“Now that is no way for a princess to act.” He scolded, holding me tighter to keep me from getting loose.
“Hideous!” I cried out as he groaned.
I smirked, “Clideus, Hideous!”
It wasn’t even that funny, but it drove Sirius, who was the vainest thirteen year old boy I’d ever met, insane.
Sirius had been cursed with very good looks and he was unfortunate enough to be surrounded with girls who insisted on inflating his head for the better part of every year.
Everyone but Sirius laughed just to be annoying as James led the way to my room. “Here you are princess!” he said cheerfully with a sweeping bow.
This was the room I had always stayed in over the summer at James's house. It looked like it always had except for the mirror that was now hung above the dresser.
I smirked evilly. Sirius had to put me down now that we were here....
“Let’s go outside!” Remus ordered, catching my smirk.
I glared at him causing his smug look at ruining my plan to evaporate. He knew that he was in for it now.
I wasn't about to argue too much, though. I absolutely loved it outside in the fall.
I could practically feel Sirius smirking as he calmly carried me downstairs in a viselike grip to prevent my escape. “James! Make Sirius put me down!” I whined as Sirius laughed.
“Yeah James make me.” Sirius mocked with such a big smirk that he should have been arrested.
Sirius and James were within centimeters of each others heights, but Sirius was broader and he got in way more fights, therefore he usually won when they rough housed.
When they dueled, however, they each had a fifty percent survival rate, so in the end it was pretty even. Muggle fighting was rather useless in practicality.
James looked disgruntled “Cassie, I'm sorry but there's nothing I can do.” I pouted, hoping the puppy dog face would have enough effect.
He turned to Sirius with a theatrical sigh, “Leave my sister alone!”
I smiled warmly at him. His whole family was treating me like an adopted daughter.
He took it the most seriously. Blood didn't matter to him; Remus, Peter and Sirius were his brothers too, just as they were mine.
I laughed and turned to Remus which was difficult considering the odd angle I was being held at. “Remus...old buddy old pal....my best friend in the world...the salt to my pepper-”
“What do you want” Remus asked with a chuckle as he cut across my monologue. I stuck out my tongue at him and Peter snorted.
“You couldn't...I don't know…exchange negotiations with this troll and tell him to leave the princess alone?” I could practically feel Sirius's smirk as he lowered me to the ground and started tickling me.
“Sirius!” I laughed, trying to sound stern, “let me...go! This isn't...isn't fair! You're too strong. ” I said between laughs.
Why did boys get to be the strongest? It wasn’t fair.
He smirked and continued to tickle me. “The troll doesn't feel like it”
I kept laughing. “Fine! You're...not a...troll...you're actually...quite...quite....good looking...” He stopped tickling me but I stayed on the grass still laughing breathlessly.
“So you think I'm good looking?” He half-asked with his usual award winning smile causing James and Remus to roll their eyes.
“Yep” I said with the trademark smirk “You could beat a troll in any beauty contest. The giant squid would probably beat you hands down though. He has a year-round tan.”
I laughed at the look on his face and took off running with the others in my wake.
They all outran me easily and jumped into the lake, apparently deciding it was a good time to swim.
I was beginning to wonder why Sirius hadn't kept up, because he was much faster than everyone except Remus when I felt him grab me around the waist, causing us both to fall.
He rolled so he didn't land on me-which was very fortunate-so I fell on top of him panting from running.
“Yes?” I asked pleasantly, trying to keep a straight face. Sirius smiled, it was a real smile too, not his usual smirk or the award winning smile that he put on for pictures and girls.
“Care for a dip?” he asked in the same tone before jumping up and into the lake without even putting me down first.
“Sirius!” I scolded, gripping him tightly, “You know I can't swim!”
He chuckled, “Cassie I haven't even let go of you! Do you honestly think I would let anything happen to you?” He whispered the last sentence.
I took a deep breath still clutching him, “You're right. You just scared me, I sink like a stone in water and I have absolutely no buoyancy.”
He laughed, “I don't understand that! You're so light! It just doesn't make sense.”
I just shook my head. I had never been able to swim and I knew exactly why. I wouldn't be explaining that to anyone anytime soon though.
The boys swam until darkness fell, taking turns at holding me up in the water. At first I tried to tell them to just have me sit on the edge of the water and watch, but they thought that it would bore me, so they tried to dunk whoever held me up instead.
I noticed that Sirius took a lot more turns than anyone else. I was really just glad that Peter wouldn't let James dunk me when he snuck up behind us.
As the red and gold sun began to sink out of the sky we all climbed out of the water, ignoring the beautiful night sky like the children we were.
I shivered, it was really cold. Sirius frowned at the sight of me standing there shivering and threw his sweatshirt at me.
“Are you sure you don't want it?” I asked, already shoving it over my head.
He smirked, “I'll be fine. Put that on before you catch a cold and Mrs. Potter wrings our necks for it then stuffs us full of cough medicine.” I rolled my eyes but finished putting the sweatshirt on all the same, it was cold.
I smelled the sweatshirt it and smiled. It smelled like Sirius and it was really warm. I decided that I wasn't giving it back. It was just too comfy.
I felt oddly tired when we got back to the house. I dragged myself into the downstairs bathroom and put on some of the guys’ baggy clothes. I always used their stuff for pajamas.
“Sirius, the princess wants you to carry her upstairs!” I announced innocently as I walked into the living room where they were all sprawled over various pieces of furniture, hoping he would actually fall for it.
He smirked, “Is the ickle princess tired?”
I nodded, yawning. “Yes, and according to you it's the peasants’ job to carry me and that means you.”
A crooked smile crossed his face as he stood and heaved me over his shoulder with very little effort.
“Night guys!” I called over his shoulder Remus looked at me like I was crazy for going to bed earlier than 3 o'clock in the morning and James and Peter muttered something that sounded suspiciously like “insanity”.
“Here you are beautiful! Don't let the nargles bite!” Sirius told me in the voice of a drugged up tour guide.
I rolled my eyes as he turned to go. Nargles, honestly...
“Wait! I have some of your clothes here!” I called as he reached the stairs.
I needed to get rid of them before I forgot. He smiled and plopped down on my bed after striding through the door like he‘d known he was coming back all along.
I pulled my trunk out of the corner and put a pile of freshly laundered clothes in front of me.
“Let’s see...that’s James's....Remus...” I muttered to myself as I put all of their clothes into proper piles. Sirius slid onto the floor next to me.
“How is it possible that all of these clothes end up with you? And where did you learn to fold laundry?” He asked sounding awed.
I smiled, “You just…I dunno. You just fold them up. It’s instinctual!”
I was trying to decide whether he was awed that half of their clothes found their way into my trunk or that I was actually folding them...probably both.
I supposed the main reason for the mixed packing was that I spent half my time hanging out in their dorm, I even slept there some nights on accident.
“Now come on, Cassie. How can you possibly know whose those all are? I can't even tell the difference.”
I rolled my eyes as I tossed yet another plain black t-shirt into his pile. “It's not really hard. Peter is a size smaller than the rest of you, so all the smaller clothes are his. James, Remus and you are about the same size but there are differences.
“You are the only one I've ever seen in a plain black t-shirt and your clothes smell like you-plus the house elves are afraid of you still, so they use extra starch in you things. Remus’s clothes are the ones that aren’t over-expensive designer tags and the rest belong to James.”
He looked amazed “What do I smell like; I hope it's a good smell? And I thought that Kudsy was over the butterbeer drinking contest! It was his own fault anyway. Smug little bummer.”
I rolled my eyes and sniffed him. “I don't know exactly what it is...your soap maybe? Anyway that’s everything. And all the elves think that you‘re going to come back and do it again, or maybe it‘s just your last name.” I explained, gesturing to the piles of clothes. I stood up and stretched, and then I saw the mirror.
My eyes opened wide and I moved from in front of it but it was too late. Sirius had seen the empty mirror and I could tell by the look on his face that he had seen-or not seen, I suppose.
“Cassie...?” He broke off looking unnerved when the others came bounding into my room, they never knocked.
“Hey Cassie, have you got our clothes yet?” James asked, jumping onto my bed and jostling Sirius, who hadn‘t reacted yet.
James knew I would never sleep this early.
I nodded and gave him a fake smile as I tossed him his clothes. Peter picked up the other two piles off of the floor and tossed Remus his clothes without bothering to aim.
Remus was staring at Sirius curiously but caught them all without looking away, or even glancing up.
Apparently he knew he had walked in on something that had scared Sirius. I carefully avoided his eyes.
We didn't bother to compliment Remus’ impossible catching abilities; we had long since accepted his inhuman reflexes and given up on wondering about them. My main hope was that if they were wondering about him they wouldn't notice me.
“Ok so...start of term prank?” James questioned happily; seemingly oblivious to Sirius's discontented look.
I chanced a glance at him, he looked as though he had just been forced to watch something he knew and loved disappear; like watching the Potters house burn down. I hoped he wouldn't say anything in front of the others.
Hopefully he was sitting there convincing himself it had been a trick of the light.
“I don't know James...I think I'm going to go to bed. I'm sure I'll be able to think better after I sleep.
He nodded looking concerned “Night then...” he said uncertainly.
I sighed in relief as the door shut behind and pointed my wand at the mirror and muttered the incantation that would make my reflection appear. I knew I wasn't supposed to do magic but since I was here, the ministry wouldn't know it was me.
I could only hope Sirius would manage to forget the fact that one of his best friends had no reflection.
* * * *
I woke to the sound of twittering birds.
A slight breeze ruffled my hair as I inhaled the smell of flowers. I blinked, slightly confused. Birds...flowers...breeze?
I sat up and after a moment of shock, I smiled. I was outside in the Potters large flower garden. I loved it out here.
I pushed the covers off of myself and found a note on my pillow in Remus’ handwriting- probably because his was the neatest.
Good Morning Birthday Girl!
We thought you might enjoy a change of scenery! We have your breakfast waiting for you in the tree house. However, we have decided that princesses shouldn't have to walk anywhere so we are sending your quite good looking troll to carry you.
Happy Birthday Cassie,
James, Sirius, Peter, Remus
I smiled as I read the note. I had completely forgotten it was my birthday and I was amazed at how the guys had outdone themselves this year.
Every year since we became friends they had done something. I grinned, wondering what else they had cooked up.
I loved it outside; I could’ve lived outdoors. The only weather I loved more than rain and thunderstorms was snow. I usually made the guys wake up and come outside with me on the first snowfall of the year.
I looked up when I heard Sirius walking along towards me. He smiled at the happy look on my face, managing to mask his worry in a way that nobody his age should’ve been capable of.
“Breakfast awaits, my princess.” he intoned, giving a sweeping bow similar to the one James had done last night.
The sad part was that it looked practiced. I rolled my eyes and jumped off of my bed to hug him.
“You guys are amazing! How did you even get the bed out here?” I asked when I let go.
“If I tell you I have to kill you.” he said in a very matter-of-fact voice. The effect was ruined slightly however, by the smirk.
I shook my head still smiling, “I'll just go get my potion and we'll eat. I'm sure you're starving.”
He grinned and took a small bottle out of his pocket.
“It was on your dresser.” he said apologetically, “I figured you'd rather take it now than go all the way inside.”
I smiled and took the potion, “You're right." I said grimacing at the awful taste but smiled as a calm feeling seeped throughout my body.
I had convinced the guys some years earlier that the potion was for my high stress levels and it kept me from having panic attacks. It was true that I would most certainly have a panic attack if I went without it, but panic wasn't what it treated.
I smiled and Sirius tried to pick me up again but I dodged him.
He chuckled; we both knew he would win any race but I tried to run anyway. I had only gotten a few paces ahead of him when it happened.
When I looked back at that moment I knew without a doubt that all I felt was pure terror.
Fear had never been a dominant emotion for me. It was always muted, controlled by the fact that I’d been long since desensitized to things that gave normal people-even the ones like Sirius-nightmares.
My potion stopped working.
It was only for a few seconds, but it was enough. The world around me spun, my vision became vividly accurate, and the half of me that I had always worked so hard to hide surfaced.
It took every ounce of self control I had and then some, not to kill Sirius on the spot. Five seconds later it was gone. I blinked feeling nauseous and Sirius caught up to me.
“Cassie...Cassie? Are you still with me...?” Sirius's voice was concerned for me.
I nodded after a moment, “Breakfast right?” I asked in what was hopefully a cheery, bright voice.
It was a fluke. It had to be. Just my imagination. That was all.
He looked at me curiously and I pulled a content look onto my face.
“Right.” he said slowly.
He looked calm, even though he wasn’t.
That was always the problem with us.
It was too easy to pretend that nothing was wrong when everyone could smile in the face of a hurricane.
I smiled hoping it didn't look forced. How could the potion have stopped working? What if I hurt Sirius or the others?
I was really confused; maybe I was building up a tolerance to it. I shuddered at the thought. If the potion wasn't working there was no way I would be allowed back at Hogwarts.
Dumbledore only allowed me to attend the school because the potion made me harmless.
I shook my head and tried to enjoy my birthday. After breakfast, where I was strangely devoid of any kind of appetite, the guys gave me presents.
James gave me a big book of hexes, which made me momentarily forget my current problems.
Remus gave me a big box of chocolate as usual; we always gave each other chocolate because we both loved it so much.
Peter gave me some beautiful earrings that went perfect with one of my favourite outfits-which made me feel unacceptably girly, but happy all the same.
And Sirius gave me a little glass ball that imitated the weather outside. The ball was the same temperature as it was outdoors and it gave off a little light showing how sunny it was.
I hugged them all and gave Sirius a kiss on the cheek after I opened his gift, which to my great amusement made him blush. He rarely let things like that slip.
We spent the whole day outside playing tag, hide and go seek, and truth or dare Marauder style.
Mrs. Potter called us in for dinner at around dusk and the guys hurried inside, obviously very excited about eating.
I was ravenous but when I sat down I realized I wasn't hungry at all. But that made no sense because I was hungry. I felt like I’d gone without food for years, in fact.
I didn't understand, I knew that I was hungry but the thought of eating food made me feel physically ill. Was I getting sick? Was that possible?
“Ouch!” Peter exclaimed dropping his knife and nursing the small cut on his thumb. Then it hit me. I wasn't hungry for food, not normal food at least.
“Mrs. Potter, I'm not feeling well...I think I need to talk to my healer.”
Mrs. Potter nodded looking worried, asking no questions. My mother had already explained to her that I took a potion for “anxiety” and may need to talk to Healer Rosethorn at some point two years ago.
“Come over here dear.” she said sounding anxious. I took a deep breath and avoided touching her as she led me to the fireplace.
“Cassie, are you alright?” Sirius asked, looking cautious. James, Remus and Peter looked considerably paler.
I understood why. I had never been even the slightest bit ill in the time I had known them.
I walked to the fireplace trying to avoid all human contact for the safety of all humans concerned.
I threw the floo powder in the fireplace and said in the clearest voice I could muster, “Healer Rosethorn’s office!” and with a swirling mixture of relief and nausea I was gone.
I stumbled into a white room and I barely had time to catch myself from falling before Rosey (as I called her) gently pressed me into a chair.
I could feel it now. The desire. I wanted to hurt this woman. I wanted her dead. I didn’t want to be ‘saved’. I wanted to be free of this cage.
I lost myself.
“The potion stopped working.” I whispered bluntly and without prelude. She gasped and ran to her desk, ripping open the drawer, making me smile. Did she honestly believe that I’d let her do this if I didn’t want her to?
I had a plan, and as much as I hated it, I had to stick to it. Just a few more years. I would prove him wrong.
She came toward me and I had to struggle not to harm her... I could hear the voice in my head for the first time in over six years, 'come now Cassie...we both know what you are...strike out now and show the world what happens when they try to control us!'
I shook my head “No! I won't,” I murmured weakly, feeling the odd contrast between the dark and the light.
It was maddeningly interesting, the contrast between this weak, human child and myself. We were the same person, in fact she was identical to my thirteen-year-old-self.
But she was still clean. She was still innocent.
For a backward moment, I wished that I could go back.
This life was making me soft, obviously.
I had a bet to win.
I couldn't be sure whether or not I had spoken out loud. Rosey looked frightened as she muttered a spell. I felt sleepy and I knew I was going to wake up in a hospital bed.
* * * *
I woke, not to a pleasant breeze and the sound of birds, but continuous muttering. I sat up and Rosey jumped along with another healer I did not know.
“You'll be ok Cassie...we did know that this would happen eventually. You really are lucky that you were indoors when the potion lost complete effect.” The man declared calmly-he was obviously a lab worker.
I nodded, but stayed quiet.
The man continued. “While you were asleep we did some tests on your brain. You have to understand that you are very unique. No one like you has ever been domesticated.” A threatening hiss escaped my lips and I closed my eyes.
The hiss hadn't come from me.
He looked apologetic-and ready to wet himself, “Forgive me. They usually don't let me out of the lab. I hardly ever interact with the patients...As I was saying you are very unique. We have very little idea of your future but at the present it seems that some changes will be necessary. Your less favourable side is getting stronger so unless you are hospitalized at all times we can't keep everything abnormal about you under control.”
He seemed frustrated.
“In order to keep you under your own control we have changed your potion to free some of the less dangerous parts of your dual personality.”
I broke in before he could continue, “Dual personality.”
He smiled sadly at me, “You are two different people, Cassie. There's the young woman sitting here before me and your other side that has been relatively dormant until today. You could think of her as…the bad version of you. We will make the changes and keep her from taking you over...but you might still hear her as she gets stronger and she may cause you to do small things. That hiss, a twitch of the fingers, maybe even a word or two. If you are highly stressed she will become more active.”
I took a deep breath and rubbed my temples. They were going to make me meditate. I just knew it.
Rosey smiled nervously, “You'll be able to do almost everything the same...with a few little differences...”
I had never heard such an obvious lie in my entire existence.
* * * *
I returned to the Potters through the fireplace five hours after I had left. It was nearly one in the morning. Everyone was sitting up and when I stepped through the fireplace they all looked up abruptly.
“I'm fine.” I said warding off their questions.
“You shouldn't have stayed up.” I added quietly, amazed that they cared so much.
“It was no trouble dear...how about we all go to bed and we'll talk tomorrow.” Mr. Potter said in a carefully relaxed voice.
“Wait, Cassie dear, aren't you hungry?” Mrs. Potter asked, looking hopeful. I smiled humorlessly.
The last thing she needed or wanted was for me to eat; she just didn't know it… yet.
Life was cruel. Twelve hours ago I had been on top of the world. My biggest problem had involved the theft of Sirius’s sweater and how I was going to keep it from him permanently.
Now all I could think about was if my secret would last another second and what on earth I'd do when everyone discovered the monster I was.
“No thanks. They gave me ice cream at the hospital.” I lied too easily and left them to look confused as I shuffled upstairs to pass out on my bed, wondering whether my mother knew that I had seen Rosey yet-or if she even cared.
* * *
“It’s not morning, Siri…” I mumbled sleepily as the door to my room opened, waking me instantly.
I didn’t know it was him for sure, but who else could it be?
“Cassie, wake up.” I heard Sirius sounding anxious. I looked up at him. He was pale and he had dark circles under his eyes as if he hadn't slept.
“Who...what, are you?” he whispered in a flat voice, looking at me as if he had never seen me before.
The secret was out. Life as I'd known it was a bitter memory.
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