Cassie wandered slowly around Lily's small front bedroom.
Faded yellow wallpaper was covered by photographs, news clippings, pages of spell books and diagrams scribbled down in class. She was in one or two of the photos. The two of them waving madly at the camera on the marble staircase and another lying under a beech tree by the black lake, taken just before the summer.
She touched some of the muggle photos, Lily and her sister, their parents, friends playing in a swing park on a sunny afternoon. None of them moved though, they stood completely still as if frozen in time.
Lily crept through the door and handed Cassie a glass of water.
“My parents are fine with you staying. I'm trying to tell my mum we don't need to get out the spare mattress. I'm sure you can do better than that.” She grinned at Cassie and started shifting her trunk to make room for another bed. “Are you alright?”
“Yes.” Cassie murmured, still looking at the still photographs. “I've never been in a muggle house before.”
It was all so strange, so out of place.
Lily just laughed and sat down on her bed. She was surrounded by neat cushions, handmade blankets and a few ratty looking teddy bears she must have had for years. Behind her bookshelves were covered with books that weren't text books, spell books or histories of the Wizarding World. Just stories. There was a soft carpet under her feet, stained by years of use.
Everything was well loved.
Cassie had a ghostly four poster bed and a fake wand when she was growing up. When she was old enough her mother gave her a broomstick and she was left alone to practice.
“I forgot who I was dealing with here. How do you think I felt when I walked into Hogwarts for the first time? It took a lot of getting used to.” Lily laughed.
“No… It's nice. I like it like this.” Cassie jumped onto Lily's bed and sat cross legged amongst the bears.
“So what’s been going on? Have you heard from anyone?”
“Some people.” Lily reached under her pillow and pulled out a small bundle of letters and news clippings. Cassie recognised the one at the top, she had the same one stored in her trunk. “Mary hasn’t been found yet. They found her parents, her brother but not her.”
“They found her parents?” Cassie asked, not holding out much hope.
“They found their bodies, it’s the same as always. The police, the muggle police I mean, can’t work out what happened but it’s pretty obvious. There just more of the same. Everyone’s vanishing, slowly. Have you heard anything on your end?”
Lily was treading carefully.
Mary had never liked Cassie, Cassie hadn’t thought much of her either. On the other hand Lily had been close with her, and everyone liked Lily. Still, she wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
“They don't discuss business around non-marked. Especially not things like that.”
“They killed her whole family! Just because she was Muggleborn, Cassie. How could they?” She pleaded with Cassie. Big green eyes glaring at something or someone Cassie couldn’t see.
“Because that’s what they do, Lily!” She reached forwards and grabbed her hand.
“Please, promise me you’ll be careful this year. Take your wand everywhere you go and whenever possible don’t walk on your own. Even if it means having to stand Potter for ten minutes!”
It seemed all the more important, sitting in her small and perilously unprotected muggle house.
Lily’s face had gone a slight pink, the colour growing darker, clashing horribly with her hair as she sat not meeting Cassie’s eyes.
“What is it?” Cassie felt her heart stop for a moment.
“No it’s… Well I think i’ll have to get used to seeing a lot more of Potter this year.”
Lily pulled a letter out of the stack.
Cassie knew the handwriting at once. She had been staring at it all over the quidditch plans for three years now.
“Potter wrote to you?” She couldn't believe it.
“Yes.” Lily sounded a little defensive. She had turned beetroot now. “It was to say congratulations really, I should have written to him first I suppose. You see…” She fumbled in her pocket for a moment then pulled out a blood red badge, a gold band surrounding it and the words Head Girl stamped into the surface.
Cassie gave a knowing smile, that was hardly a surprise.
“Of course you are. Well done.”
“Well that’s the thing, they’ve made Potter head boy.”
“And? Lily this is brilliant, and James isn’t so bad you know. He’s amazing at quidditch and he isn’t as much of a bastard as he used to be. Don’t worry about it.”
Lily beamed at her. Something else flickered across her face. A look Cassie didn't know.
“I still mean it, be careful this year. Even if you are virtually in charge of the school!”
The next days passed in a flash.
Cassie quickly got used to living in a muggle house. She mostly watched as Lily’s mum made dinner, Lily’s dad drifted in and out of the house, the smell of hand-rolled cigarettes drifting with him.
Her sister was the most entertaining. The ratty girl, a year older than Lily had tried snapping at Cassie the morning after she arrived. Somehow her courage failed her when Cassie made the Microwave unplug itself and chase Petunia from the room, door flapping.
That made Lily laugh for hours.
At night she would lie on a conjured bed beside Lily and talk about what was happening, what was about to happen. It wouldn’t be long now.
Cassie could feel the war creeping closer every day.
Too soon september the first arrived.
She left before Lily, promising to see her on the train.
Cassie disapperated, appearing safely in a maintenance corridor of King’s Cross Station.
White walls stretched on either side, one swing door leading down to the main station and a smooth concrete floor under her feet.
She pulled her ponytail tight, just having time to fix her jacket and take a deep breath before there was a second ear-splitting crack!
Cassie jumped and wheeled round.
A boy had appeared a few metres from her. Lean framed, a pretty, cruel face and rich brown hair brushed back, out of his eyes.
He smiled at her and jogged towards her quickly.
“Cassie!” He scooped her into a crushing hug, spinning her around once. “You’ve not been waiting long have you?”
“No, not long.” She smiled at Eddie. She didn’t see this side to him much any more.
Edmund Avery, one of her oldest friends, was not the kind to be seen her with her in public these days.
“I’ve missed you Cassie. I went to your mothers the other night with my dad, she said you had already left.” He gave her a sweet smile followed by a small frown.
“You know I hate those things.”
“I also know that certain people noticed you leaving.”
“Nobody cares what I do.” Cassie took a step back, the wall stopping her foot from going farther.
“Yes they do. Important people care. They’ve been eyeing you up since you could hold a wand.”
She looked along the bare, white corridor. Wishing that a Muggle would walk around the corridor. It was a mistake meeting here. He couldn’t bring this up in a crowd.
Eddie was her friend, her oldest friend, but recently…
He took another step towards her, his hand nudging her chin to look up at him. She could feel his breath on her face. He was close, too close.
“You don’t have a choice Cassie.”
“Okay. I didn’t send you the letter just to talk about Him.”
“He has a title.” Eddie narrowed his eyes and watched Cassie. His head bowed low, making his hair fall over his face. He was growing his hair for some reason. Before it had always been short and neat.
“I don’t want to talk about the Dark Lord any more!” Cassie all but shrieked. “I’m here because of Mary Macdonald and-”
“What about her?” He sighed as if it was an old topic already.
“Were you there that night?” She demanded.
Cassie stepped forwards, grabbing his left arm and pushing the sleeve up to his elbow. Nothing. He wasn’t marked.
She let out a breath.
“What do you want Cassie? Did you just want to check I wasn’t the one to kill her?”
So, she was dead. That was another breath she didn’t know she’d been holding.
“I want immunity for someone at school.”
“Who?” Eddie was suddenly all business.
“Evans!” He let out a shrill laugh. “Don’t worry about that. Sev put her on the list a while ago.”
“I don’t give a shit about Snape.” She held Eddie’s eye for a minute. Cool blue eyes searched hers, gaging how serious she was.
Nobody cared about the twisted little git, least of all Eddie. He did care about Cassie.
“Anyone touches Evans and they answer to me. Understood?”
Eddie nodded. “Everyone’s allowed a pet.”
There was a boot click at the corner, a pair of steel capped boots and a guard uniform strolling around the corner. The guard was overweight, slow. Sweat showed through the dark uniform, no hair showed under the flat black hat. He blinked when he saw two teenagers standing in a private corridor. Standing so close they would look like a couple.
Before he could open his mouth Eddie had his wand raised, a silent spell shot straight at his chest.
“What did you do? Eddie!” Cassie pushed him away and ran towards the muggle.
“He’s just stunned. I’m not stupid enough to kill him here.”
He picked up his trunk and wandered towards the door. “If that's all then? See you in school, Yaxley.”
Cassie turned and ran for the guard. She muttered the counter curse and watched him slowly start moving.
As soon as he opened his eyes Cassie hand her wand pointed straight at him.
He opened his mouth to shout.
“Shhh… I’m sorry.” He relaxed at Cassie’s voice. “Obliviate.”
Light swelled and then gavished. Leaving the man blinking and dazed, lying back on the floor.
Cassie ran, safe in the knowledge that someone would find him.
She dragged her trunk out into the station. Conjuring a rickety trolley before she ran into any more muggles.
She made the train with minutes to spare. The scarlet engine already filling the platform with white clouds of steam. She ran through the crowd, pulling her trunk, her broom and an empty cage onto the train before she jumped up.
A whistle blew as she slammed the door, the train lurching forwards on its rails.
“Fashionably late Yaxley.” Potter picked up her broom and twisted it in his fingers. “I was wondering if I’d have to find a new chaser this year.”
“And leave the team alone with you! No.” Cassie winked at James. She walked past him, grabbing the broom from his hands.
“Go do whatever a Head Boy does.”
“Look for late quidditch players?”
“That!” Cassie shouted back, turning to find a compartment.
Only to freeze on the spot.
“Prongs, when you’re done being important we’re at the other end.” Black drawled, wandering towards them from the carriage. He stopped, glancing down at Cassie.
“Morning Yaxley.” He said in a low, cool voice.
Cassie’s voice caught in her throat. Black was standing close. Inky hair fell to his shoulders, he was slimmer than he had been before summer. The polished, perfect appearance starting to lose some of the gild. Dark circles had formed under his eyes, cold grey eyes that surveyed her with a certain amount of disdain. It didn’t mean he wasn’t still good looking, part of Cassie's mind spoke up. He just looked tired.
“Black.” She moved to let him past.
Sirius turned from her to James, the familiar sneer coating his face.
“That was all. Find us later, yeah?”
He looked down at Cassie, his eyes flickering slightly to her bare left arm. Before he wheeled around and walked away without another word.
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