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Chapter 9
Shadows






I was always in a fight
cuz I can't do nothin right
Every day I fight a war against a mirror
I can't take the person staring back at me

Hazard To Myself-Pink



Cassie Crescent






“This isn't going to work.”

“Shut up.”

“Really I think you should listen to him....look at this stuff!”

“Do you like the way your face is arranged Peter? I haven't really tried but I'm sure I'm strong enough to rearrange it for you.” I stated calmly, in the most matter of fact voice I could manage.

Silence.

“I think....we can't do this.” Sirius whispered in disbelief.


“Sirius!” My patience was at an end. “Do you guys want to help Remus or not? This is the best way, the only way to do it. He'd do it for us! I can't do this alone, you three...please try.” I gave them my most winning smile before remembering that my fangs were showing. James rolled his eyes.


I really wasn't on task today. The full moon was due tonight and I hadn't slept for two nights in a row. No, these were definitely not the best conditions for being the worlds best non-vampire actress. The fact that it was nearly 3:00 a.m didn't improve my mood.


“Cassie darling those teeth of yours haven't scared us in years. Maybe you should come up with something more original. Maybe you should get a nice roomy coffin to sleep in. It's really all up to you of course, but I suggest a pink one with lace.” Sirius had abandoned the books on the large kitchen table for the couch.


“Coffins are extremely uncomfortable. The air always gets stuffy when the lids close and then you start wondering if someones going to bury you alive in your sleep. And if they do, you have to dig yourself without alerting the angry villagers. Not pleasant.” I said severely as I went to look out the sitting room window that overlooked the Potters expansive garden.


I wasn't really aware of the shocked silence behind me until I heard a dull thump and realized that I was the only one in the room breathing. I turned to find a white faced Peter, a blank faced James and Sirius who had fallen of the couch and was staring at me with disbelief painted over his face.


I couldn't help it. I burst out laughing. I tried to speak coherently between my giggles but I found it rather difficult. “You thought I was...serious?” I finally managed through my laughter. There was another silence and a silly grin spread across Sirius's face.


“You can't be Sirius. I'm Sirius. Why are you people always trying to steal my name?” Sirius himself asked looking as if Christmas had been three years late and come at last. Wincing, I rubbed my temples. I hadn't made that mistake for months.


“I thought we weren't saying that word anymore? You about exploded the last time he made a...you-know-what pun.” James muttered stupidly, obviously still off balance from my coffin joke.


“I think you made James and Peter wet themselves” Sirius observed, casting a critical eye toward the pair.


“And you said I wasn't scary.” I mocked as I walked across the room and laid down on the couch. I felt like I could pass out tight there. Maybe I would.


Closing my eyes I ignored the three boys and concentrated my thoughts on our mission. We needed to become animagus's. Becoming an animagus was possibly the hardest thing we had ever attempted. We needed every ounce of brainpower we could get and yet, the smartest marauder could not help us. There had to be-


“Cassie are you listening?” James asked sitting down on my stomach before jumping up as if he had just sat on a fragile glass table and not realized he had done so until he heard the cracking of glass.


“No, I am not listening and yes you're right I'll probably shatter if you sit on me.” I muttered sarcastically, cracking open and eye and closing it again without bothering to look at them.


“You're sure you can't read minds?” James asked me for the ten-thousandth time since I had met him.


I faked a yawn, then wondered vaguely if I actually could yawn in a not on purpose way. “I'm sure. Will someone come over here and be my pillow? I think I'm just going to go to sleep...finally.” There were muted chuckles and whispers referring to the position of the moon as I dozed, barely awake.


I jerked awake when Sirius lifted my head and sat down placing it on his lap.


“Sorry princess. You know it's a good thing you don't sleep with a knife or anything. You'd probably wake up and stab anyone who came into your bedroom.” he whispered lullingly, trying to make me sleepy.


“I'm sure you could do that for me.” I answered, not registering my words before drifting off to sleep once more as his fingers smoothed my hair.


* * * *


“They're so adorable. Honestly, how can you bet that it'll take longer than a few weeks? Have you seen the way they look at each other?”


I heard Mrs. Potters voice and Mr. Potters answering chuckle.


“Cassie's so stubborn that she probably has herself convinced she thinks of him as her brother. I know that girl. It'll take her at least a year to see it, even if we wave it under her nose.” Mr. Potters voice pulled me slowly toward consciousness.


“I suppose you're right...Should we tell her that we know...who she is?” Mrs. Potter asked in a monotone.


“I really...don't know...” he replied soberly.


My eyelids fluttered open as my mind whirled. Were they talking about Sirius and I? Theories about what? Was I being paranoid? When I got a good bearing of my surroundings things got even more complicated.


Sirius and I were asleep on the couch, covered in a big fluffy blanket that was most likely courtesy of James and Peter. It really wasn't too embarrassing of a position, yet...it was nice. I shook my head and climbed off the sofa, stumbling slightly as the blankets caught my feet.


“Good morning Cassie.” Mrs. Potter tittered from the kitchen table with that mischievous glint in her eyes that reflected the one in her husbands. Why weren't they eating breakfast?


I smiled. A fake smile. “It is a good morning isn't it?” I asked cheerily, glancing back at Sirius who was still completely unconscious. Everything felt oddly surreal.


“Where are James, Peter and Remus?” I asked saying the names so quickly that they blended into one word.


“Sleeping, I think.” Mr. Potter said with a knowing smile. I nodded.


The stairs seemed steeper than usual as I climbed upward..


The air was heavier when I reached the landing, an air of anticipation hung thick over the entire second floor of the house as I made my way to James' room.

The door was wide open and the air smelled of smoke. A gasp escaped my lips as I entered the room. The once white carpet seemed to mock the blood red walls with sinister imitation and the smell of death in the air acclaimed them both.


Blood was splattered across the room almost deliberately and there were scratch marks on the windows as if some desperate creature had made a last attempt to escape the carnage. James, Peter, Remus and Lily lay sprawled on the carpet with crooked smiles on their faces, as if they had died in the throes of demented laughter.


Most disturbing however, was the girl. She was short with black hair that must have matched her heart.. Her eyes were a deep and electrifying purple Blood surrounded her mouth and was splattered over her shirt. Her clothing mirrored my own except that it was a deep black, almost as if they had been soaked in ink.

She was me.

“Cassie...” I turned at the sound of Sirius's voice and a choked sob escaped me. He was in no better condition than the others. I had to be dreaming. I stiffened. Dreaming. I was dreaming.


It all changed. Remus sat against the wall staring into the abyss. His face was lined with the worry and fear that should be unknown to one so young.


Sirius sat in a dark cell. His face was pale and his eyes had a haunted deadness that I would never forget. His hand was wrapped around an iron bar that held him in his prison.


Peter was lying on the floor plumper and balder than he was now with balding patches where hair should be and a silver hand that was his own wrapped around his throat. He stared at me with a twisted combination of unblinking adoration and hate.


James lay on the floor next to Lily unmarked and unchanged except by the ravages of time. Even in death he seemed to be trying to protect Lily who lay with her hands covering a small bundle in her arms.


Another me stood calmly amidst the horror. We were the same, yet completely different. She was paler, if possible, perhaps 3 years older and several inches taller than I. Her clothes were all black and her hair matched. It was much shorter than mine. She was a century older, and ocean sadder and harder than steel. Her eyes were neither cruel nor kind. She could chose to be either without regret. I had never been more afraid. Was this my future?


Why wasn't I awake? I knew that I was asleep. I had reached the limbo between illusion and reality and I had not been released. How could I be aware, awake and still dreaming?


“Don't you want to play Cassie?” Cassandra asked me. It was my voice only colder, crueler. It made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.


“I'm dreaming. I'm not like you.” I told her stubbornly. I had to be.


“Cassie!” all of their voices swirled around me, accusing me.


“You're not like me?” my voice asked from her lips. She was mocking now, “You are me.”

“Cassie wake up!”

“No!”

My eyes flew open. I was in my bed. Safe.

“Cassie...?” Sirius asked quietly

I winced at how similar his voice was to the dream.


“No...” I whispered quietly, shaking my head. It had seemed so real. I had woken up and still been trapped.

“Cassie you're safe. You are in your bed and we're here. Ok?” Remus asked grabbing my arm and gently but firmly shaking me toward reason.


I nodded slowly. I flinched when Sirius touched my face. I didn't like to cry. I hadn't done so for over two years.


Immediately four sets of arms were hugging me.




I sent the boys from my room when they were sure I had regained control. I didn't deserve such good friends.

A long shower helped to soothe me and put the dream behind me. I was very good at repressing bad memories. I had to be. After it became obvious that I could delay my return to the lower floor of the house no longer, I left my room, walking slowly down the staircase.


I smiled at the silence of the house. Obviously the teenage boys were eating. As I approached the kitchen I realized that it was too quiet. Fearing that something was wrong I ran into the kitchen.

A scene that stayed burned in my mind for years afterward awaited me. Five letters lay upon the kitchen table. There was no food. That was my first clue that something was amiss. Second, were the four boys who were staring with a rather admirable intensity at two of the letters in particular.

Remus seemed to be torn between fear and excitement, James and Sirius looked nauseated and Peter looked hopeful, but in a frightened way.

“Uh, guys? Did they actually put bobutuber puss in this year?” I asked breaking the flat lined silence.

Sirius looked up and smiled slightly,his voice was tremulous as he told me, “No princess. It seems that one of these letters is slightly heavier than usual....so either we've won awards of some sort...which I doubt. Or they have made one of us-” he broke off looking too sick to continue.

Remus continued, “A Prefect. We haven't looked yet...but it's almost certain.” He sounded like a grim healer who was breaking the news to a family that one of their loved ones was about to die. Of course it was likely that the prefect was him.

I shuddered but took a deep breath. The sooner we got it over with the sooner the healing could begin.


“Lets have a look then.” I declared, feeling sick. My feet carried me to the table and my hand shot out to grab the first letter my eyes caught.


“James.” I murmured, swiftly tossing him his letter. He exhaled with relief to feel it's light weight.


I took a deep breath and picked up the next bomb, “Pete.” Looking anxious Peter took his letter. His face fell ever so slightly, as if he were either relieved or disappointed when the letter proved to be without a badge.

My hand froze as I picked up the next envelope. “Remus.” I said with a mournful voice. He sighed and took the letter. He ripped it open and dumped it's contents on the table. There was a collective wince as a red and gold badge with the word 'prefect' on it fell with a slight clang to the table.

I tried not to pause. We had all assumed that the letter belonged to Remus. I grabbed my own letter and slit it open.

After it became clear that the danger had passed, James laughed with relief and Sirius let out an excited whoop.

“You know what this means?” James asked looking mischievous.

“That we will treat this new development with maturity and give me the respect I deserve?” Remus asked without conviction.

“No. We could do that but then we would have to live the rest of our lives in bad conscience.” Sirius explained matter of factly.

James laughed and repeated, “Do you realize what this means!? We have people on the inside now! Passwords, secrets, authority....we can triple our pranking! We can get into the staff lounge!” He looked as if somebody had just declared his best friend supreme ruler of the universe and he would be getting all the perks.

“Hey kids, do you want breakfast now or are you going to keep being melodramatic. I have the entire day of so feel free to wait.” Mrs. Potters voice rang with mirth as she entered the kitchen. When her eyes went to the prefect badges on the table her whole face lit up, “Remus Congratulations!”

“Peter blinked returning from his stupor, “How did you figure out it was him?” he asked looking slightly bewildered.

“Theres one boy and one girl for each house, and since Sirius is already quidditch captain, Lily's the only one who could have gotten it. And Remus is the only person in the entire house responsible enough to be picked.” James explained, looking amused.


“Thanks mate.” Sirius said sarcastically, glowering playfully at James.

I suddenly felt tired, as if being awake for the past few hours had exhausted me. Of course, I hadn't slept for three days and I always tended to crash after a full moon. This really wasn't a big development. We always knew that Remus was to responsible for his own good. Talk about confusing.

“Cassie are you alright?” Mrs. Potter asked looking fretful. I nodded. It felt mechanical.

“Yes...I just need to rest. I didn't sleep much last night.” Or the night before, or the night before that.

Sirius stood and waltzed over looking pleased. I should have known what was coming next. Before I knew what was happening He slipped an arm around my waist and lifted me as easily as he would a pillow and gently tossed me over his shoulder. He was an evil, evil boy.

“Sirius, if you don't put me down I'll...do something very unpleasant to you! I'll wait till you're asleep and-” He cut me off by poking me behind my knee as hard as he could. It was odd. There's no name for that spot.

James and Remus snickered, and I realized what I had just said sounded like.

I cut off my rambling as he reached the staircase and sighed at the sound of more laughter from the kitchen. It was most likely at my own expense.

Sirius why do you have to carry me everywhere? Your fan club has enough reasons to want me deader as it is.” I said prodding his lower back.

“My fan club eh? Why would they want you deader?” He asked mocking my 'deader' comment.

“Because they think that we 'like' each other and it makes them insanely jealous.” I explained sleepily. Stupid full moon.

“Really? I thought they were just jealous of our good looks, charm and wit.” he said chuckling.

I glowered at his butt. It was the only significant part of him that I could see. “Everyone is jealous of those. They're just extra jealous because I enjoy more of your 'wit, charm and good looks than they do.” I told him, disapproval of the comment on my looks laced my tone.

“Honestly Cassie,” He said lowering me onto my bed and taking a small step back, “Just because I think you're beautiful doesn't mean everyone else does. And besides, girls are supposed to enjoy being complemented like that.” he smirked.

My stomach felt like there were butterflies dancing it when he said he thought I was beautiful. I didn't understand that. I shook my head and smiled at him. “You think most girls are beautiful and you don't mind telling them so. It's a character flaw if I must say so. And I'm not a normal girl.”

“No. You aren't a normal girl. Thats what I'm getting at. You're amazing. Maybe those girls have a good reason to be jealous...” he trailed of looking as if he regretted saying so much. “Get some sleep princess.” he whispered as he left the room.

I sighed and drifted to sleep again, wandering into better dreams of flower gardens filled with bark like laughter.



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