Cassiel sat in the corner of the drawing room, looking around at the men and woman chatting away, holding antique crystal glasses and wearing the family jewelry, passed down for generations.

The guests were all of a kind. All extraordinarily wealthy, the sort to be found in the Pure-Blood Directory and all supporters of… Cassie didn’t want to think about that. 

She sat in the corner of the room, holding her own crystal glass, spinning the thin stem between her fingers. 

From the far side of the room Leila gave a loud, confident laugh. She could see her sister swish a molten gold braid over her shoulder and smile brightly at whomever she was talking to. It didn’t matter who, not really. One truly pure-blood family was as good as any other.

Cassie looked out the window, it was raining in Edinburgh. Tiny drops of water trickled down each pane of glass, landing in a little pool on the sandstone window ledge. The rain was somehow more interesting then the party. 

Glasses started clicking, someone tapping a polished silver spoon against the edge of the crystal.

“Ladies, Gentlemen. Esteemed Witches and Wizards, we are honoured to welcome you to our home.” Her mother's voice drifted from the stairs in the hall. She liked to think of this as her effort for the coming war, bringing true pure-bloods, the loyal, closer together.
“This year, without a doubt has been hard. We have lost friends, family all in service for...”

Cassie tuned out of, what she was sure, would have been another bland speech.
Her job was to sit there, pretty in her new robes and borrowed jewelry, and try not to draw attention to herself.
It was almost working until she felt the cushion move beside her.

“They’re all the same after a while aren't they?”

A boy, a year younger than Cassie sat down. The chaise longue was only big enough for one really, meaning he had to sit annoyingly close.

He was slight, small, he would probably have been quite good looking if Cassie hadn’t met his brother.

“Couldn’t have said it better myself.” She gave Regulus a small smile.

Her mother was talking about Him now, she sounded half scared half love-struck at the thought of him. She didn’t mention that he wasn’t here, despite all efforts made.

“Are you looking forwards to going back? I know school isn't the easiest for you.”

Cassie shrugged to herself and downed the last of her wine. She wasn’t meant to be drinking. “It’s not the school that’s the problem. It’s the people.”

“I can imagine. How many mudbloods and blood traitors… You especially, you’re surrounded by them.”
He had misunderstood her completely. There was no point correcting him. She may as well tell her mother she was marrying a Muggle. She would be believed just as quickly.

Regulus was trying to score points now, “I mean, imagine having to spend most of your time with my brother. It would be unbearable… not that you can't- I mean-”

“I know what you mean.” She gave him a slight smile. No matter what she thought of Sirius, Regulus certainly lacked his brothers charm. “It’s one more year, I can survive that long. Then I’ll be out of here… out of the country.”

“You won’t stay around to join up?” Regulus’s voice rose just to loud. Earning them a glare from the Senior Mrs Malfoy standing closest, wrapped in aging furs and emeralds.

“We’ll see…” Cassie dropped her empty glass onto the mahogany side table.

“Will you have a choice?”

“...Raise a toast.” Her mother was still going on. “To the Dark Lord.”

“The Dark Lord.” Was echoed around the house and everyone clapped, drank. Sparks were shot from a few wands. They all started chatting again, straight away Leila’s laughter filled the room.

“Who is she talking to? There isn’t anyone here that funny.”

“Rabastan Lestrange.” Regulus sighed. “He’s a sort of cousin now. His brother just married Bella.”

Cassie raised an eyebrow. Leila had started husband hunting the moment she left Hogwarts. A Lestrange would be almost perfect for her. If one was good enough for Bella Black…

Regulus looked as though he was struggling for something to say.

“I spoke to your mother earlier.” Cassie took him out of his misery. “She seems pleased with everything you’re doing at school.”

He blushed, the colour staining his parchment white face blood red.

“Well, she can be very kind.”

“She said you were thinking of joining… after school.”

He nodded, once.

It was hardly something to be ashamed of in that house. Over half the death eaters in the country were currently drinking in Cassie’s dining room. Leaning on her armchairs. Probably wandering up her stairs… Spreading like a disease.

A tray bobbed by at her side.

“Wait.” Cassie ordered. She grabbed two full glasses from the top. “Thank you Lala.”
She whispered under her breath.

“Thank you Miss Cassie.” The elf bobbed and scuttled off into the sea of legs.

“Here.” Cassie passed a glass to Regulus.

“Are you sure about… you know?”

He nodded again, with more determination this time.

He was mad, Cassie thought to herself. They all were. Maybe she was mad too, just for being here.

“Well here’s to not getting killed.”

They clinked glasses and Cassie got to her feet. She had taken as much as she could of this house, this party.

“See you at school, Regulus.”

“Oh. See you Cassie!” He beamed up at her, suddenly seeming very young.

She pushed her way through the crowd, until she reached the stairs, snaking around her mother, chatting, to go to her room.

“Just where are you going?” A cold hand stopped on her arm.


“Why?” Her mother turned her around to face her, instantly reaching to tuck stubborn flyaways back into her braid.

“Because I need to go. You said I could leave after nine.”

“Where, exactly, are you going, Cassiel?” She scanned Cassie’s eyes, searching for a lie.

“The Leaky Caldron. To meet Pyra.” A lie.

“Pyra Zabini? Darling she isn’t the most responsible person to be spending time with. Anyway, you can’t leave. Your sister is about to become engaged.” There was a note of pride in her mother’s voice. Her head lifted a little higher, her snarl crawling into a real smile.

“Then I’ll send her an owl. She won’t want me here anyway.”

Tatiana Yaxley nodded, that was difficult to dispute.

“Very well. You will send her a letter full of heartfelt congratulations. Take some time over it, make her feel like you actually mean it. It is good for the family.”

She gave Cassie a cool kiss on the cheek then turned and swept over to Mr Lestrange and his son.

Cassie turned and as fast as possible, bolted up three flights of stairs. Right to the top where her room was tucked away. As far from the revolting guests as possible.
She ran to a mirror, pulling out the tight braid and shaking a her mane of chestnut hair. She tugged off the pale grey robe, she had narrowly avoided the green one simply because Leila was wearing green, and tossed it onto the bed along with the heavy silver jewelry.

Two minuets later and she was in jeans and a plain white t shirt, Doc Martens pulled onto her feet and a baggy denim jacket on over a red jumper.
Her trunk was ready to go. It hadn’t been unpacked when she got home, some robes pulled out to be washed. That was all.

“Miss Cassie.” A voice squeaked from the doorway.

“Yes Lala?” She glanced down at her elf as she fixed her hair into a low ponytail.

“Lala made you these, Miss.”

She held out a small stack of sandwiches and a flask of the best Coco in the country.

“Thank you!” Cassie tucked them away and beamed down at Lala. “Now get back! Before someone notices you’re gone! I’ll see you at christmas.”

“Thank you Miss Cassie!”

She vanished, leaving Cassie alone in her room.

It was starting to get dark outside. Just enough cover for a safe appearance.
She pulled her broom from the corner and picked her owl cage up from it’s spot by the window. Her tawny owl was hunting. She was smart though, she knew how to find Cassie.
She needed to hold tightly to everything. Merlin knew what would happen if she let go half way.

She closed her eyes and imagined exactly what she had always been told.
A little house, modern built, on the corner of a quiet street in Cokeworth. A yew tree in the garden, a neat lawn and a new red car in the drive. Just like the letters described.

Disaperating was harder when you had never been to the place. Still, Cassie was good at it. It wasn’t much of a challenge.
She held her breath and turned sharply on the spot. Vanishing with a loud crack.

She appeared a few hundred miles south, outside the corner house on a quiet, modern street. Trunk, broom and cage all intact.
No-one seemed to notice the noise, or the girl who now stood where nobody had been a moment before.

A curtain flicked in an upstairs window, a pale face with long red hair glancing out into the night.
Seconds later she was gone. Cassie could hear shouting inside the house and then the door was thrown open. Her best friend standing in the light.

“Lily I couldn't take it anymore.” Cassie dropped her trunk. “Is it alright if I stay here until… Well until school?”

“Of course.” Lily Evans stepped out of her door, wrapped in slippers and a red fluffy dressing gown. “Stay as long as you like.”


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