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CHAPTER FIFTEEN
"...I know. I know what I've got to do..."

 

 

 



“What are you talking about?” James looked wary, though this time it wasn’t an expression of distrust, just bewilderment at her behaviour.

 

“Hang on.” Cassie held up a hand to stop him talking. She had the idea, she knew she did. She just had to focus on it, stop it slipping away and hiding behind things so she couldn’t see how it all fit together.

 

Because it did fit together. She’d had a moment of blinding clarity, but only a moment. Now she had to focus and figure it out, check it, make sure this wasn’t another false alarm…

 

“No, you hang on.” He now looked disgruntled. “It’s five o’clock in the morning and I’m doing you a favour here; I could be asleep -”

 

“Could you?” Cassie cut in, smoothly.
 


The confirmation on his face was enough for her to claim triumph. He might be a complete conundrum, but she took great satisfaction in each and every little piece of the James Potter mystery that she unravelled. Hard though it was to believe, she was actually beginning to understand him.
 


And if she couldn’t sleep for going over and over everything in her mind, she was sure that he couldn’t either.
 


After a long moment of sullen staring, he changed the subject back. “What the hell is going on?”
 


Cassie cursed herself for not concentrating. Every moment she wasn’t concentrating on this idea she was sure it edged away from her. “I just… I just need to think. Please. This is important; I think I might have -”
 


Might have a plan, she intended to say. But she didn’t quite want to. She needed to be sure of this. She didn’t want to raise any hopes - hers or any of the families - just to have them dashed.
 


For all his ‘not the one with the plan’ talk, James seemed to understand immediately from Cassie’s words, her expression and her behaviour, how important this was for her. It was as if he could see her struggle to formulate the idea and recognised how hard it was to visualise. Perhaps he could relate to it; the feeling of knowing that there’s something to be done but not quite being able to understand how to achieve it.

 

Whatever the reason, he kept quiet.
 


Cassie paced up and down the short clear space beside the stream, hitting her - still empty - bottle agitatedly against her leg. She had to think, she had this.

 

She had it.

 

Surely.

 

It could work, she thought. It could go wrong, sure. And it would be difficult. And there were some finer aspects to tune. But the ‘big idea’, the basic concept…

 

She was fairly certain it could work. And it was the only thing she could think of that might.

 

It was their best bet.

 

After turning on her heel more times than she’d kept track of, she jumped to see James in front of her. She’d sort of forgotten he was there. She’d sort of forgotten she was there. Or at least, she hadn’t been paying a lot of attention to her surroundings.

 

It struck her as surprising that James had kept quiet for so long. He didn’t seem like he’d have the patience. That must have been something she was wrong about. Al was the impatient one. She recalled a similar situation to this, when she’d been too absorbed, too panicked, to explain her thoughts to Al. He’d demanded to know, hadn’t shut up.

 

James had kept silent.

 

The first positive trait she’d seen James to possess that Al hadn’t, perhaps.

 

He still didn’t say a word. Just, kind of gently, took the bottle from her hand and knelt to dip it into the stream, filling it. She thought maybe he felt like he needed to be doing something useful. He may have been patient when he needed to be, but he didn’t like feeling completely useless. No one did.

 

“I’m the one who get’s all the practical stuff done along the way,” Those had been his own words. He’d been right.

 

He straightened up and seemed surprised to see her paused exactly where he’d left her in her pacing. But he recovered quickly and held the bottle back out to her.

 

“Just don’t do that hitting it against your leg thing again,” He said, tersely, “Was doing my head in.”

 

Cassie unscrewed the cap of the bottle and took a tiny sip. It numbed her lips, it was that cold.
 


“Are you going to tell me what the hell you’re thinking?” He asked, as she wiped some icy stray drops from her face.

 

After his careful screening of everything he said in front of her, his lack of trust, and his outright withholding of information from her, Cassie was momentarily tempted to refuse to tell him.

 

But only for a second. Maybe it was his patience. Maybe it was the poorly-concealed strain, so like his father’s, evident on his face. Maybe it was just to do the right thing, for once.

 

“I might have an idea.” Cassie said.

 

She watched the sequence of emotions briefly crossing his face as if from a distance; surprise, hope, curiosity, and suspicion. Then he lapsed back into his usual sullen expression and it was as if she’d imagined the whole lot, with just the lingering feeling of the James Potter intensity.

 

“We have to tell my Dad.” He said.

 

Cassie had been in the process of opening her mouth to make the usual required, weary protest about how he could trust her, and had to change mid motion. “Wait, what?”

 

“My Dad. If you have an idea, we have to go to my Dad.”

 

“What?” Cassie repeated, too bewildered to respond in any other way. She shook her head, “What, no suspicion? No doubt, no questions? You don’t even know what I’m thinking and you’re just trusting me? Just like that?”

 

There was another moment where Cassie was sure that she’d just missed the flicker of an emotion on James’ face, and left with the indistinct and lingering feeling that, whatever it was, it was intense.

 

“We have to go to my Dad.” He repeated.

 

“I will. I’m not stupid. I just… I need to figure this out for myself first, it might be a load of crap. I don’t want to raise anyone’s hopes or anything… if they even listen to me in the first place…”

 

“He’ll listen.” James said. “Let’s go.”

 

“Just give me a minute.”

 

“We don’t have a minute. It’s five in the morning. I’m cold. I’m tired. And if you know something that’s going to help my brother or my Mum then you’re telling my Dad.”

 

“Let me just -”

 

“Now.”

 

Cassie was irritated. “It doesn’t make a difference. You heard your Dad. There’s nothing we can do tonight. So give me a minute to think about this -”

 

“But -”

 

Cassie was really irritated. “Look, I understand if you’re used to running to your Dad every time you can’t handle something. That’s great. But some of us have had to cope on our own. Some of us can think for ourselves. Some of us are capable of that.”

 

She didn’t know what made her do it. Stand up to him like that. And she kind of felt the tiniest bit guilty. It was certainly awkward, anyway. To have to stand there and keep that defiant look on her face because his hard stare was directed right at her and she knew that she couldn’t just back off now.

 

Without warning, he turned around and kicked through the undergrowth back the way they’d come from camp.

 

Cassie hesitated for a moment, catching a breath that she hadn’t realised she was holding, and marvelled at what the hell had come over her. Talking back to the Potter that hated her. Good move.

 

Then she had no choice but to follow. She wasn’t sure if she could find her way back alone so she had to hurry to follow the direction of his trail. It wasn’t hard. He was stamping through bushes and yanking at branches at quite a pace. But she was too far to follow in his footsteps this time, so she had to stumble.

 

By the time she reached the tent he was nowhere to be seen.

 
 


**

 

 

The sun was up.

 

Finally.

 

Cassie didn’t know how she’d managed to wait those final few hours. She’d told herself that she wasn’t going to wake anyone up before sunrise. If they were managing to sleep then good for them. She wouldn’t deny them of it. And she especially wasn’t going to wake them up to tell them her idea. Just in case there was an enormous flaw she was missing. She wouldn’t wake them for nothing.

 

In the end, she must have managed to doze off. Because after tossing and turning in the darkness for what seemed like hours on end, the next time she opened her eyes it was bright. The tent flap was tied open and she could see people moving about outside.

 

She scrambled out from her sleeping bag and out into the fresh air. The sky was clear and the wind was crisp. This, she decided as she took in a lungful of air, was a good sign.

 

Even the smell of cooking eggs seemed optimistic.

 

Until she saw who was cooking them.

 

While she assumed Teddy must have been the one to gather the supplies - as he always was - he wasn’t the one on his hand and knees, deftly and expertly feeding firewood in to make as smokeless a fire as possible. Piercing blue eyes caught hers from underneath a dirty head of hair; making her jump, look away, and decide that she definitely wasn’t hungry.

 

Looking past him, she saw Ryan and Hugo sniggering amongst themselves, no doubt at something disgusting, from the mildly horrified looks on Dominique and Rose’s faces. The thought that some normality could remain made me smile.

 

But it was also sad. Because she couldn’t help but wonder whether Ryan would keep up his lively good spirits if they went through with her idea. If things went to plan… well, it’d be a while before she’d get to see that.

 

“Did you sleep?” A quiet voice came from behind Cassie.

 

She turned and met the green eyes, so similar to Al’s. Although the more common question would be ‘did you sleep well’, it didn’t strike her as odd. Of course she wouldn’t sleep well.

 

“A little. Maybe. Did you?”

 

Harry heaved a shrug, as if he wasn’t quite sure either. Cassie wondered if he’d been up all night as well. She wondered if he’d heard her and James.

 

“There’s something I want to run by you.” She said, tentatively.

 

Harry looked up, a new light of curiosity in his eyes. “I’m listening.”

 

“I don’t…” Cassie glanced around at the family spread around the fire. “I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up or anything…”

 

“But you think it’s worth sharing.” Harry said, considering her words and looking out at his family. He understood. “Follow me.”

 

But Cassie was busy following his gaze. She noticed the small crowd gathered around Teddy.

 

“What are they looking at?” She asked.

 

“Oh.” Harry tried to form a smile but it didn’t quite work. “The Prophet. Teddy dashed out to get it this morning. They should’ve… they should’ve been in the news - the Ministry’d have a field day reporting that two Potter’s have been caught. But nothing. We don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing.”
 


“Oh.” Cassie’s stomach lurched with a brief surge of hope, “Do you think maybe -”

 

“We can’t let ourselves think that.” Harry shook his head, but his eyes were kind. “No matter how much we want to believe it, we can’t give ourselves false hope.”

 

“Right.” She swallowed and nodded. “Right.” She agreed. Of course she agreed. But she couldn’t stamp out that hope.

 

“So you wanted to tell me something?” Harry asked, indicating the far end of the small clearing.

 

Cassie nodded and followed him.

 

“It might not work.” She said, as he took shelter underneath an overhanging tree. “I don’t know if… that’s why I need to tell you. Someone. You. I need -”

 

“Another point of view. Sure.” Harry nodded, then nodded again in greeting over Cassie’s shoulder.

 

Cassie turned and saw three figures approaching. While the rest of the camp were absorbed in their strained attempt at normality, three had noticed Cassie and Harry’s behaviour.

 

“Oh.” Cassie shook her head, “This isn’t… I didn’t mean to sort of… call on you all. It’s nothing big I can just talk to you -”

 

“But, as you probably can guess, I can’t claim to provide an unbiased opinion.” Harry smiled wryly, “It’s my wife and my son. I’ve not slept. If you’ve got an idea that even makes an ounce of sense I’d probably quite happily jump at it at this point in time. I’m afraid I just can’t be trusted at the moment.”

 

“But…” Cassie turned to Ron and Hermione, approaching. “I didn’t want to raise anybodies hopes…”

 

“Too late.” Ron quipped. “Come on, let’s have it.”

 

Cassie raised her eyes cautiously to meet the ice blue sullen stare of her biggest critic.

 

“We need him too.” Ron said, noting the direction of Cassie’s gaze. “For once his nit-picking is going to come in handy.”

 

James snorted. “I’ll remember that allegation, next time you want a hot shower -”

 

Hot shower?”

 

“ - alright, luke-warm. But if you’d rather icy stream water then be my guest.”

 

Cassie couldn’t help but notice that she’d not once been offered even a luke-warm shower. It seemed James only offered this gem of mechanical knowledge to a select few.

 

“Cassie?” Harry cut smoothly through the light-hearted antagonism. Though his voice was even and low she could sense the urgency.

 

“I just have a few questions,” Cassie said, considering her words carefully. “About occlumency.”

 

The silence seemed to echo as not one of the four surrounding her believed that this was all she’d wanted to say, but she wasn’t challenged on it.

 

“What of it?” Hermione was the one to respond.

 

“You can stop people stealing your memories.” Cassie stated. “How far can it go?”

 

Hermione considered. “I’m not quite sure what you mean.”

 

Cassie was fairly certain that she had an idea, but wanted to clarify. “I just thought maybe…” Again she had to consider her words. “Say you block them out. They hit a wall. They realise.”

 

The elder three nodded slowly, and Cassie thought she saw understanding spark.

 

“So to take it further, could you… could someone theoretically draw on something in their mind other than what the person’s looking for? Something real or… not. “

 

“According to magical theory,” Hermione nodded, “It’s possible. It’s difficult, and it would take a skilled occlumens. But it’s possible.”

 

“My next question,” Cassie said, “How do you become a skilled occlumens? Skill, obviously. Magical skill or…”

 

“It’s more a particular aspect of character,” Hermione said, as Harry rolled his eyes with a self-depreciating air, “Some find it easier than others.”

 

“But it can be taught?” Cassie probed.

 

“Well, yes…” Hermione started to look troubled, “Cassie, whatever you’re thinking, this is incredibly risky. I don’t think -”

 

“Can I be taught?” She asked.

 

Again, Hermione didn’t look like she wanted to answer, but it was as if she couldn’t help but impart her knowledge if asked. “From what we’ve learnt of you beforehand - your immunity to Cole’s ploy and your spell work - and from what we’ve seen of you first hand… I’d say yes. Yes, you could be taught. Though it requires wand work, which we obviously can’t… and it’s not a safe idea anyway, Cassie. If this plan is anything like I think it’s going to be it’s not -”

 

“I thought about the wand work thing.” Cassie spoke quickly. “And you proved two nights ago that it’s possible to set up a temporary protection. It could be done. Apparate to a random place. Set up the protection. Practice for half an hour. Move on.”

 

Harry, Ron, and Hermione exchanged uneasy looks. They couldn’t disagree with the logic in that. James just stared at Cassie, eyes narrowed.

 

“We could just try.” Cassie took advantage of their silence. “If I could learn it; learn it quickly and well. Then it’s perfect. I can do it. I can go back. Give myself up. Give them some sort of sob story about how awful it was being captured by the Potters when all I wanted to do was to save Al from them. Then we can find a way out.”

 

Despite the increasingly confident yet frantic tone her voice had taken, her words were still met with silence.

 

“I think it can work.” She said, resolutely.

 

More silence.

 

In the same split second that James began to shake his head, expression mutinous; his father spoke.

 

“All this is hanging on one small thread - the assumption that you’ll be able to project some sort of a story strongly and realistically enough…” Even as Harry voiced the limitations, she could hear in his voice that he was considering the idea and it elated her.

 

Of course, the other Potter had to bring that crashing down.

 

“No way. Dad -” He appealed to his father but cut himself off furiously, obviously recalling Cassie’s scathing words from the previous night, before rounding on her, “You can’t.” His eyes were hard to look into, “You’ve got to be kidding me, we’re not going to… you can’t do this. You’re just a kid.”

 

Excuse me?” Cassie was taken aback. “I’m seventeen - I‘m of age. I’m only two years younger than you -”

 

“You’re a Hogwarts Kid.” He barely spared her a second glance and, paired with the flicker of disdain, this stung. “Dad, we can’t put everything on them. Her and Al, they’re just kids.”
 


“Al’s eighteen -” The protest came from Cassie’s mouth without even considering it.

 

“You’re just proving my point.” James’ tone was final and dismissive. “Dad -” He didn’t even look abashed at looking to his father this time.

 

But Harry‘s answer wasn‘t what James wanted to hear. Harry knew this, which was why his words were slow and drawn out, as if to soften the blow. “This is the best plan we’ve got, James. And it… could work.”

 

The look of betrayal on James’ face reminded Cassie for a fleeting moment of the way Al had looked when he’d found out the truth about her betrayal. It made her flinch.

 

“They can’t.” He lowered his voice, no longer on the brink of shouting. It seemed to echo in its quietness. “They can’t. They’re Hogwarts Kids -”

 

It was really beginning to bug Cassie. This ‘Hogwarts Kids’ phrase.

 

“Which is just what we need right now.” Harry gently reminded his son. “And they’re not just Hogwarts Kids. They’re Hogwarts Kids with a weapon. Or a defence, depending on how you look at it.”

 

Cassie watched as James tried to fight the grudging acknowledgement that his father was right from showing on his face. He briefly caught her eye but quickly scowled down at the floor.

 

When he spoke again his voice was carefully level and with a hint of ‘don‘t come crying to me when the shit hit’s the fan‘. “I don’t think they’ll be able to do it.”

 

“Sometimes you should just trust.” Harry said, “I know you’re not dumb enough to think you know everything, James, you weren’t brought up that way.”

 

“I’m just being realistic, Dad, look at the facts -”

 

“You think I ever thought my eldest son would ever get back on a broom again after the first time? Let alone ask me for help? Let alone become one of the most talented Quidditch players I may have ever seen?”

 

Cassie remembered the story of James’ first experience on a broom well. It was one of the first times Al had ever talked about his family to her. She supposed it was how everything started. Perhaps everything would have been better if he’d just gone back to his loner ways.

 

James didn’t respond to the calculated remark but to stare right back at his father, their eye level a good few inches above Cassie’s.

 

“Sometimes you should just trust.” Harry repeated, “And you might be pleasantly surprised.”

 

For a long few seconds the only thing Cassie could make out was a few long exhalations from James’ direction. But he didn’t say anything. Perhaps he was coming to terms with it.

 

“Then I want in.”

 

Or perhaps not.

 

“What?”

 

“I’ll do it.” James said. “Come on, maybe I can do this occlumency thing. I’ll be better than Al, we all know that. And I’ve got just as much of a chance as her. I’ll just -”

 

“James. You’re nineteen.” Harry shook his head.

 

James stopped. “Well, then… I could -”

 

“You could go to Azkaban.”

 

That really did stop him.

 

“Like it or not,” Harry said, “This is what we’re doing. You’re not the right man for the job. What we need is a Hogwarts Kid, one who can withstand and defy what they’re doing in there, and we have Cassie right here.”

 

“She’s seventeen. She could go to Azkaban too.” James pointed out.

 

Oh sure. She was of age when it suited him.

 

“She’s still a student. And, as far as they know, she’s innocent. And she’s not a Potter.” Harry said, attempting a joke but his voice was too grave.

 

“Your son is, though.” James added, without remorse.

 

Harry winced.

 

“You’re really willing to put Al in danger? More danger. Again?” James demanded.

 

Harry swallowed briefly, and though he opened his mouth, Cassie sensed he wasn’t going to have a reply. What reply was there, when one of your sons was accusing you of having a disregard for the other one’s life?

 

She couldn’t watch it.

 

“At least this way we’re giving him a better chance of making it out of the danger.” She cut in, before Harry had to form any words. She felt quite disgusted. “What’s your plan, James?” She realised that was the first time she’d ever said his name. It felt strange to form it. “Leave him there? Come on, what’s the plan?”

 

He merely continued to glare sullenly at her. He didn’t give any outward sign that he made the association between her taunt and his outburst in the cave, but she felt sure that behind his ice-cold stare was something more heated.

 

It was a low move, sure, but he was being infuriating. Still not trusting her after all she’d proved and after she’d thought they’d come to some sort of an understanding. Making out she was too immature - too weak - to do this. Not only her, but Al. She thought that was what angered her more; his condescendence toward his younger and - Cassie thought - braver and more chivalrous brother. Al could do anything. Cassie knew that. What right did James have to pass judgement, when he hadn’t even been around to see the man his brother had grown into?

 

And when he’d tried to manipulate his father, Cassie couldn’t sit quietly any more.

 

In the milliseconds after she’d spoken, she’d felt a little bad at taunting him like that. But that was just in the fraction of a second before she felt the tiny thrill of standing up to him, throwing him off and provoking him. After so long accepting his hatred with a humble silence or meek few words, this felt good.

 

Especially when she could see something battling behind the clear blue of his stare.

 

The staring went on - James at Cassie and Cassie at James - for what seemed like a long time. Too long for an ‘I told you so’ to be thrown in there.

 

Neither of them broke it.

 

“We’ve got ourselves a plan.” Harry said, quietly, almost to himself.

 

 

**
 


 

“I’m sorry about him.”

 

Cassie was lying on her back on the hard, dry earth outside the tent, looking at the stars through gaps in the treetops. She pulled herself up to a sitting position at Harry’s voice, drawing her knees into her chest and wrapping her arms around them, while he sat opposite her on a knotted fallen tree.

 

She managed a small smile. “You’re the third Potter to say that to me. All I need now is Lily, and an apology himself, and I’ll have the whole lot.”

 

Harry smiled and looked maybe a little sad. Cassie felt a little bad. She hadn’t meant to sound like she was complaining. James didn’t like her. It wasn’t an issue. Just one of those facts of life, like how you needed air to breath.

 

“I love my family a lot.” He said.

 

Cassie thought she heard an unspoken ‘even James’. But that could be just her biased opinion.

 

“He means well,” He continued.

 

Cassie involuntarily raised an eyebrow.

 

“He does. Whether he knows it or not. Everything he does is to make things better for the family. It’s just his… trust issues. That make him difficult. He‘s had it harder than any of the others.”

 

Trust issues. That just about summed it up. That was why he’d been so outwardly hostile to her all along, even when everyone else trusted her. And then she gave him the confirmation he’d been expecting all along by setting off the chain, however unintentionally. Just as he’d perhaps been ever so slightly warming towards her. Or that could have been her imagination.

 

As well as that, the way he so often refused help with all of his odd jobs around the camp. Preferring to do everything himself, so he knew it was done properly. Didn’t trust others to do it right. If he absolutely needed help, such as with the tree-felling - and impossible job for one person - he’d only bring himself to ask his father. It wasn’t until Al offered, and allowed himself to be ordered around good-naturedly, that James would accept help from anyone else.

 

“I don’t think he’s ever going to trust me.” Cassie said, not meaning to say it, but just speaking her mind, “And I guess I can’t really expect him to, after everything. It’s just… I really do just want to help. I’d do anything to get Al out of there. I’ll give… everything. It’s just… it just gets to me that he thinks that’s not enough.”

 

“He’s just worried. If it goes wrong - and it could do, you know that - then we’re back where we were three years ago. Everything he’s worked so hard at is already gone when the camp was invaded, he can’t lose any more. Especially not… look, they have a complicated relationship. James and Al. But they‘re my boys, and I know that they‘re fiercely loyal to each other. If something goes wrong, and one of them…”

 

“One of them what?” Cassie asked, barely wanting to hear the answer. She knew what he meant. And he knew she knew.

 

“It was hard enough for me, leaving Al the first time. But I don’t think… I can’t watch my son hurting again at the loss of his brother.”

 

Cassie’s eyes prickled again, and her stomach clenched in guilt. Even that part was her fault. Alright, she may not have ‘opened the clasp‘, like she had with this big mess, but it was indirectly all down to her. Her and this stupid ability; this so-called weapon. The Potter family had suffered a lot, both because of her, and for her. “I’m so sorry.” She whispered.

 

Harry either didn‘t understand - or else didn‘t let on that he did - what she was really talking about. “That’s all in the past, now. You can do this. I have every faith that you can.”

 

Cassie blinked away the dampness around her eyes and looked up at him with something like wonder and curiosity. “But why?” She asked, quietly.

 

“What?”

 

“Why? Why do you trust me? You have just as much reason as him to just…” She shrugged and looked down at the floor.

 

Harry seemed to consider this for a moment. “Because.” He said, as though he was still mulling it over, “Because, like you said, you’d do anything for Albus. Anyone can see that. I worried, you know, when he first told us about you. He’s so… he’s always been so upfront, so genuine, generous and trusting, my son. He could easily be taken advantage of. Of course, being at Hogwarts, he’s learnt to put up more of a guard, but I thought… I thought that maybe becoming friends with you so quickly might not be such a good idea. You were just a dot on a map to us, someone spending an unusual amount of time with my son. He’d do anything for his friends and family, and that can get abused. But then when you followed him out here, just to see that he was alright…”

 

Cassie had been nodding absently at everything Harry said, but she paused at that and looked past Harry at Ryan, sitting against a tree with a dozing Lily leant awkwardly against his side.

 

She didn’t know why, but she felt herself saying, “That wasn’t the only reason.”

 

Harry followed her gaze. “I know. I know Ryan was a big part of it as well, of course he was. But when you got here, it wasn’t Ryan you were asking for.”

 

No. It wasn’t. Partly because she wasn’t scared for Ryan in the same way she’d been scared for Al. She hadn’t even known if Ryan was there until he’d barrelled in. But Al she was genuinely worried about.

 

“And then seeing the two of you together… you could just tell that you were the same. He’d have done anything for you and you’d have done anything for him. That makes you trust a person.”

 

“I’m doing it to save Ginny too. I’m doing it for everyone.” Cassie said, worrying that they might think that she was doing it all just to save her friend. “And not just because I owe you all your lives. I really do want to help. You all… I care about you all. I just want to help. I just want things to be…” She couldn’t sum it up.

 

Harry smiled. “That’s all any of us want.” After a moments pause, he added, “And for what it’s worth, I think you’re capable of pulling this off.”

 

Cassie wiped her face with the back of her hand with a watery grin and looked back up at the stars. “Thank you.” She spoke to quietly that she wasn’t sure that Harry heard her. Even if he did, a peaceful silence followed.

 

Well. As peaceful as it could be until Cassie thought about the enormity of what she had to do. This big, vague ‘plan’ she’d come up with, ridden with potential mistakes, pitfalls…

 

It seemed so overwhelming. Sure, she’d figured out the idea, but how exactly were they supposed to execute it? And when? How long did they have before Al or Ginny were in grave, grave danger?

 

As if sensing her anxiety, Harry spoke up, breaking the peaceful quiet of the night. “You’ve given us hope. Get some sleep. The next part’s ours.”
 


Cassie snapped her gaze from the stars at and Harry, who was standing up and looking toward Ron and Hermione.

 

But not his wife.

 

She should be there. She’d been such a constant, uplifting fixture in Cassie’s life out here so far, that every so often it struck Cassie as completely wrong to see Harry without his ever-smiling, ever-laughing wife somewhere close by.

 

But at the same time, looking over at the three of them standing together as she’d seen in so many old images in books, articles and archives, it restored a sort of comfort and confidence in her.

 

They could do this. Look at all they’d done before. This was just what they did. Cassie had done her part; this plan was just that little bit too underhand, too messy and reckless for it to be anything that Ginny or Albus Potter would suspect. They’d automatically dismiss the possibility of their family putting someone (I.e. Cassie) at risk like that.

 

The details, the constructive parts, the smart parts; they could work out.

 

“…I’m the one that gets the practical stuff sorted along the way. I’m the one that holds it together…”
 

Cassie heard James’ harsh, self-depreciating words from the cave ringing in her ears as the eldest Potter son emerged from the tent, and although she was still utterly perplexed, irritated, disgusted and slightly frightened of this boy, she instinctively knew that he’d be of valuable help to his father, aunt and uncle in orchestrating this plan. Partly because, as he said, that was just what he did. And partly because, as his father had said, he didn’t have that sense of trust that everything would go well if he didn’t work himself into the ground to ensure that it did.

 

As Harry clapped his son on the back, and James’ naturally brooding expression brightened the tiniest fraction, Cassie registered Harry’s words.

 

“Wait, what?” She called, “Get some sleep?… tomorrow -?” It was one thing to broach the plan, but a whole other thing to actually put it into motion. While panic fluttered in her stomach, she felt a rush of fierce determination. She had to make this work.

 

“Just get some sleep, Cassie Cooper.” Harry said. His smile, though genuine, was a little strained. As if he disliked what he was resorting to. As if, even though he’d agreed that it was their best chance, he regretted that this plan was what they were stuck with.

 

After all, he knew how it felt to have the weight of the wizarding world on a pair of seventeen-year-old shoulders.

 

 

 

 

 

 











 

A.N. Hi! Cassie's plan. Or the vague version, anyway. You probably guessed it. BUT will it work? Will we finally get back to Al? And how exactly will it be executed?

Hope you enjoyed it, I'd love to hear what you think!

Also, I thought about a vote just to give me a bit of insight. Because I (being rather god-like in all of this obviously) know who my James and Al are. But I want to know if it's coming across like that in the story. So. A vote.

1. James or Al?

2. Love James or hate James?

3. Al and Cassie - friends or going somewhere?

Wonderful. It would be interesting to hear what you think :) And as usual, any opinions are welcomed.

Thanks for reading, and please review!

Rx.
 
 
 
 

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