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Hogwarts was such an explosion of magic, emotions and memories that it always made me feel like my flesh was buzzing with it – I supposed Hogwarts, for me, was a little like a Quidditch stadium where the hum of life and anticipation seemed to run through my very veins. As Leanne and I walked up to the castle, I could feel my resolve strengthening and my mood lightening slightly – faltering, every so often, when we walked passed a particular spot where someone had been murdered or tortured in one of the battles – but compared to the bland emptiness of the mansion in my new home, the rich texture of the place filled me up and made me feel alive.

“So,” Leanne asked, “do you think James will be better this year?”

I offered her a non-committal shrug. I doubted that he would have changed very much and the only changes I could envision were largely seated around the fact that none of his friends were talking to him, rather than anything to do with me. Even if he’d somehow stumbled across the truth about why I was, or at least had been, in some mortal danger and his friends had been talking to him, I suspected his attention would only have been held for a couple of minutes.

“Didn’t think so,” Leanne said, “oh, well – Ryan and that will probably be bored by now.”

“How’s everyone else been?” I asked as we ascended the steps and entered Hogwarts. The pure character of the place felt like heat.

“Good,” Leanne said, running her hands through her hair and smiling at one of the Ravenclaws, “nothing much happened, really.”

I usually trusted Leanne to keep me up to date with the other people in our dorm and our year. It was difficult for me to socialise during the summer due to the secrecy surrounding my actual identity and due to my desire not to lie to people, I wasn’t particularly close with our other dorm mates – unlike Leanne, who had an innate desire to be liked and to know everyone’s secrets.

“I’ve got a good feeling about sixth year,” Leanne said, stretching out her hands, “I think it’s going to be better than last year.”

“Cassandra!” Ryan Bradley declared, throwing an arm around my shoulders and then pressing his fingers against my cheek as if to measure the temperature of my blushing face. “How’s crazy town?” He asked, not waiting for an answer before he was swept up in a conversation with one of the seventh year Gryffindors.

“You think?” I asked Leanne, smiling slightly at her irritated expression.

*

Hogwarts made me hungry: sometimes it was an actual physical hunger down to the energy the walls exuberated and sometimes it was the sense of adventure – the fact that, in these walls, there were so many secrets and passages and such history, that countess heroes and marauders had found their true spirit here.

Sometimes there were unpleasant layers to it, but if anything the depth of experience made everything much more: the need for adventure that Hogwarts sparked up in my stomach, the curiosity, meant that sometimes I just closed my eyes and followed the pull of the magic – just as I had that day of summer when I’d stumbled into the Potter’s garden.

Which was how, in my first year, I’d found the secret passage from our dormitory to the kitchens – fulfilling both my hunger and the hunger for adventure.

The Hufflepuff dormitory was on the same corridor as the kitchens anyways, so the passage was mostly pointless, but I was confident in the knowledge that no one had found the passage for centuries. In fact, I was nearly convinced that almost everyone was ignorant to the fact that almost all the portraits on the corridor leading to the both the kitchens and the Hufflepuff Common Room were hiding something.

James hadn’t spoken to me since this morning, with all the weird behaviour and grabbing my wrist and things like that (I blushed when thinking about it), which I decided was quite likely to be the way things continued for quite some time.

The whole summer seemed even more surreal now I was back at Hogwarts – as it usually did. At Hogwarts, the most magical place in Hogwarts, public opinion of me was so low that I could barely believe myself that my Dad was Robert Banks, millionaire and business man.

Now, with a fair proportion of the Potter/Weasley clan knowing this, it made it feel even less real. And anyway, instead of thinking of me as special in any way, it seemed the news that I was a millionaire made me less interesting – perhaps if I were dirt poor they’d have seen some sort of glamour in that, but... after a summer where they’d discovered half my parentage, the only one who seemed to care remotely was James – and that was, well, I wasn’t entirely sure why.

I sat in the gloom of the kitchens feeling slightly displaced. The world seemed to relish in not giving me some consistency – there was always a new house to move into, always more memories to feel and always some disrupting things when life fell into a rhythm.

And Hogwarts, which was usually my constant – nothing glorious really, an existence where I was continually grated on and mocked – but a constant all the same, had suddenly been tainted. James had really thrown a spanner into the works, because now I was torn between expecting him to talk to me, expecting him to ignore me and deciding whether I even wanted him to.

Two wand lights burst into the kitchens, accompanied with giggling and whispers that I couldn’t quite here. I shrank back to my corner of the Hufflepuff table and hoped that the couple wouldn’t spot me, deciding to shrink back towards the small passage if things got too awkward. I liked sitting in the kitchens though – the sense of the house elves’ giddy excitement to get everyone fed, the desire to please, the pleasure in serving others.  It was nice.

“Hey, Deb,” the male voice muttered and I looked up upon realising that I recognised the voice – Luke, Leanne’s brother and one of the fifth year Gryffindor girls, apparently midway through some sort of date, “missed me over the holidays?” He asked, before pressing his lips against her cheek.

I picked up my book and stood up, more than ready to retreat back into the shadows.

“Who’s there?” The girl, Debbie, asked squinting over in my directions.

“Sorry,” I muttered, “I was just reading, I’ll just –”

“Cassie?” Luke asked. “My sister’s best friend,” he quantified to Debbie – and of course it required quantifying. In fact, I was slightly taken aback that he’d acknowledge my existence at all, “give us a sec. You okay, Cass?” Luke asked, walking over my table and leaning over the table.

“Yeah.” I answered, my face flushing slightly. Luke had always been too good looking for his own good, but of course he was even more aware of his distinct charm than James or Ryan and his usual obnoxious flirting was enough to put you off forever, but I supposed he must like this Debbie girl to go as far as to actually act as though he cared about me.

“The James thing must be weird, huh?” Luke suggested.

There was a part of me that wanted to spit out just how weird it was just so I could watch his refined exterior crumple slightly. I was tired of playing along with everyone’s stupid games. I knew that Luke would engage in minimal conversation with me over the summer holidays and then proceed to ignore me for the rest of the school year and I was fine with that. I hated that people kept disrupting the few constants that I could rely on.

“I can deal with it,” I said coolly, tucking my book underneath my arm, “I should get to bed.”

“Night Cassie!” Luke called out after me, as though we’d just exchanged some deep quite conversation rather than me getting irritated and being the closest I was physically capable of being to confrontational.

“Night.” I said to them both in return, through gritted teeth, exiting into the corridor feeling irritated. Not only had he been an arse, his little date meant that I had to run the risk of getting caught rather than the nice trek back to my dorm where there was a guarantee that I wouldn’t get into trouble.

I felt thoroughly irritated as I walked down the corridor and for once let the irritation show on my face, given there was no one to see it anyway. Or at least, so I thought... because just as I was approaching the entrance to the Hufflepuff dormitory something grabbed my wrist and slapped a hand over my mouth to stop me from screaming.

For a second it felt like the mortal danger had caught up with me from somewhere as I desperately and silently struggled against the silent thing that had me pinned up against the wall and unable to escape. Until I felt the hand over my mouth shaking with laughter and, at that point, I stopped struggling and felt my face flushing stupidly. If I hadn’t been so focused on being irritated I would have felt his presence before he had a chance to scare me and now the identity of my mystery abductor was so obvious it was unreal.

“Sorry, Cassie,” James disembodied voice said into the corridor, “couldn’t resist.”

“Of course,” I muttered to the empty corridor, “some sort of spell?”

“Invisibility cloak, my Dads old one. Top secret.”

“So why are you telling me?” I hissed back, hand on my hip as I began to become very aware that I was still wearing my dressing gown.

“Figured you were gonna find out as we’re questing together.”

Questing?”

“Standing in the corridor in your dressing gown talking to a wall, Cassie?” Ryan Bradley asked loudly, walking down the corridor with his usual irritating superior-than-thou swagger. “I’ll add it on to the crazy list.”

“Did no one eat at the feast?” I asked irritably, stunning Ryan and myself into silence for a few long silent moments.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Ryan said. “Someone already down here?”

James, under the invisibility cloak, edged closer towards me. His hands relinquished my wrist but I very much wanted to tell him that he was breathing much too loudly. In my ear. Much too close to my face.

“Luke and some girl,” I muttered, beginning to wonder why my face wasn’t a fantastic shade of red and feeling slightly proud of my one-line-defiance, “and you, I suppose.” The lack of red face changed when I felt the material of the invisibility cloak touch the side of my skin as James exhaled. A whole corridor to choose from and he had to act inconspicuous in my space, whilst breathing on me?

“No one else?”

“No,” I said, “unless you’re counting me.”

“I wasn’t,” Ryan said, looking at the entrance to the kitchens before turning away, “night, Crazy.”

“What are you doing?” I whispered to James once Ryan had disappeared out of hearing range.

“How do you know which way to talk?” James asked. “That’s my favourite part.”

“I can sense you, never mind the fact that you’re breathing on my face. Why are you here?”

“Checking to see if he was following me.”

“And you accused me of being paranoid.”

“If we’re going to work this out, Cass, it would be really great if I didn’t have my ex-best-mate following us around trying to dig up shit. It’s all for your benefit, so you should go back to your dorm and blush in a corner – I’m only thinking of you, here.”

“Well he did follow,” I said, “and he obviously knows about the cloak -”

“He thinks Lily’s still got it,” James said, “although probably not after that performance. You’re a terrible actor.”

“I’ve hidden the fact that I’m a billionaire for six years, Potter, I can’t be that bed.”

“No,” James said, “you told me about that, remember? It’s just you’re so ridiculous that no one believed a word you said. You’re too damn crazy.”

“I thought you were trying to make up for calling my crazy?” I whispered.

“I thought you’d forgiven me. I knew you hadn’t. And I bet you wouldn’t have told me that even if I’d asked which means, Cassandra Surname-not-yet-discovered, you’re full of crap.” James said triumphantly, adding a poke to the shoulder for good measure which, given I had no warning, nearly sent me toppling over.

“I’m going to bed.” I muttered, my face flushing red hot with heat.

“And I’m still talking to you!”

*

True to form, after the incident on the first night James seemed to have forgotten that I existed the second classes had began and his family had formed a mass movement to let the truth be known about Ryan, hence resulting in a shift of allegiance and a whole host of school politics that Leanne and the other door mates seemed very excited about. From what I could gather, popular opinion was now magnificently split.

“Hey Cassie.” James said as he sat down next to me in potions on the fourth day of school, hardly bothering to turn to face me as he half heartedly pulled out his books and kicked up at his feet, pulling his phone out of his pocket and beginning to concentrate very hard on not looking like he was texting someone. I was sure that I could trace most things wrong with life at Hogwarts to the fact that my dad had invented all (or more adapted, really) this new technology.

Admittedly it had been nice to be able to send my Dad an email telling him I’d gotten to school okay and hadn’t crashed the car and he’d sent me a one line response saying that the car had been picked up and was safely back home, adding that he hoped I’d had a nice birthday and that anytime I needed the car anywhere in the country I should just let him know (why he thought I’d need a car at Hogwarts, I wasn’t going to ask). Still, I didn’t think that was worth it for the fact that everyone seemed to be on spellbook and Leanne spent more time texting her twin brother than she did talking to him face to face.

James took the ticket for the abuser of all things WCT though, walking round school with his headphones hanging out the top of his robes and his second class phone permanently attached to his hand as he texted someone or other (the vindictive side of me liked to think it was always his mother). Particularly in classes where he seemed to think that looking directly into his lap didn’t make it obvious that he was texting in lesson time.

It was difficult not to be annoyed, not because I’d expected anything more from him, but more because I had hoped that he’d be able to prove me wrong. It had almost seemed like he was taking it seriously, in that James-like fashion of his which primarily focused on turning the whole thing into a bit of an over exaggerated joke – but, although I felt stupid for thinking it, for a second there I thought he was determined to be questers together. Not because he wanted to help me out – I’d accepted long ago that he had some ulterior motive I knew nothing of – but because we were colleagues and he was curious. Instead, I was resigning myself to continuing the mission alone as James continually abused the WCT phone’s inbox capacity, when I felt my phone vibrate in the pocket of my robes.

If we crack the case, can I have a free phone please?

James.

“Don’t want to talk to me in public?” I suggested, turning off my phone and returning in to my pocket. I wanted to add some snipe about wearing the invisibility cloak when he was talking of me, but I thought my face might catch fire due to the extreme nature of the subsequent blush. Of course, snide remarks and blushing still went hand in hand – and no doubt anyone who was watching was wondering what, exactly, could have happened to induce such a glorious shade of scarlet. I decided that I didn’t care. It didn’t make a difference to me, anyway, but James cared much more about his reputation and maybe some tarnishing rumour that I had a crush on him might bring him down a peg or two.

James turned his head in my direction, assessing the blush, “I thought it was supposed to be a secret.”

That made my face heat up even more.

James cracked a smile, muttering something about me being good value and shuffling through the pieces of parchment that he’d pulled out in a wad – his notes already being disorganised to the point of absurdity – and eventually retrieving a thin piece of parchment on which he had written a series of numbers and three points.

1.)    One, hypnosis to bring back forgotten memories

2.)    Break into the Ministry of Magic and find the information

3.)    Steal the sorting hat to ask about CC’s ancestry.


“What do you think?” James asked, flashing me a grin.

“Honestly?” I muttered, feeling my heart sink slightly: I had been semi-relying on James, if he hadn’t already given up for the sake of popularity and his precious reputation, to come up with something extraordinary or adventurous which might eventually lead to some results, but the only one that seemed remotely plausible was the third and I wasn’t even entirely sure why that was supposed to be helpful. “This is crap.”

“You’ve got no spirit of adventure,” James said dismissively, “we could ride to the Ministry on threastrals and then break one of their huge ornaments... or use polyjuice potions to –“

“James,” I interrupted, “I really don’t think that this is a great time to replicate your parent’s endeavours.”

“But they’re lives were so much more exciting.” James sighed, tapping his quill against the side of the desk and ignoring the continue talk of potions from the front of the classroom.

“Anyway,” I said, “we’ve practically done the modern equivalent.”

“The modern equivalent?” James questioned, running this over in his head and nodding appreciatively, “I like that. Much more hipster.”

“Bit geekier,” I interjected, “hacking a computer system.”

The conversation was brought to a halt by the glare we were receiving from the Potions Professor and both of us were silent for a few long minutes – the drone of his voice filling up my brain again. I closed my eyes and practiced sensing out the room: James, the familiar concentration of energy to my left, and the other classmates... the glow of the magically lit fires beneath our waiting, the ingredients in the store cupboard buzzing with magical energy.

“Do you have any ideas then?” James asked, leaning forwards in his chair to address me in a whisper.

“No.” I admitted, my shoulders sloping downwards with the familiar prospect of knowing that the information might be out of our grasp unless my father, or someone else, felt the need to tell me – and it didn’t look like they were going to. James might not want to give up but it didn’t seem like we had much choice.

“I say we try my ideas then,” James said, scrapping his chair back loudly – he always had to do everything in such a loud and obtuse manner that bordered, and sometimes crossed over, to rudeness – and going to collect himself so potions, “I’ll try and think of something better, but... if not, we’re going to run with it.”

There was no point arguing because there wasn’t a chance in hell that I was going to win. James, who’d probably use the ‘you’re crazy’ argument as a trump card whenever I managed to stop blushing enough to actually retort and, well, it wasn’t worth being red in the face for half the day. Hypnosis. Stealing the Sorting Hat. Hopefully, he’d drop the stuff about breaking into the Ministry of Magic because I doubted the fact that James made it impossible for me to say no would hold up in court.

Then again, I could always plead insanity. 

 

 





I guess we've all be reacquainted with the plot which is quite fun, really. Hope you guys are still enjoying this and not too annoyed about the slowness of new chapters, but I guess I'll never know unless you tell me (in a review, perhaps?). June is Curiosity month, so that's when you'll need to be checking this story for all the exciting updates and such.

Thanks for reading, guys :)

 

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