'How can I decide what's right
When you're clouding up my mind?
I can't win your losing fight,
All the time.'
Quills scratched against parchment as the students hurried to take down the notes that appeared on the blackboard. Professor Snape's droning voice echoed throughout the dimly lit classroom as he explained the properties of the ingredients found in a Confusing Concoction.
Strands of red hair fell into her view, irritating Cassie as she tried absorbing the information that was being launched at her. Tucking her hair behind her ear for the tenth time, she turned to glare at the sniggering boy sat to her left. Rolling her eyes at his faux look of innocence, she turned her attention back to her notes to avoid snapping at the irritating boy.
Despite the chilly reputation the dungeons had, Snape's classroom was often veering towards hot due to the cauldron fires that were usually boiling away. Sighing as she started to feel herself heat up, Cassie shrugged out of her robes and continued writing. A hum came from her left and she subtly tilted her head to find Malfoy looking at her. Eyes narrowing at his smirk, she frowned when his eyes flickered to the pristine cardigan that Cassie had neatly buttoned that morning. Each black button gleamed in the flickering candlelight. Not a single one was missing and nor had one been sewn back on with mismatched thread. Simply put, it was the nicest piece of clothing she owned so far.
Waiting until Snape had turned his back on the class momentarily, Cassie's respectful upbringing forced her to lean over to the blond boy and discreetly whisper her thanks.
"It was extremely nice, if not unnecessary, for you to buy me a new cardigan. I'm very grateful."
Soft sniggers escaped from Malfoy's mouth but when he saw the flush to Cassie's face, he fell silent once more. Embarrassment caused the tops of Cassie's ears to turn red. Spine straightening, the redhead turned away from the grey eyed boy, regretting that she had ever expressed her gratitude. Unable to resist the urge to irritate her further, Malfoy leaned over until he was almost at her ear. Harry shot him a dirty look, prepared to defend his friend if the Snake were to upset her.
"How sad it must be to be so poor that a simple school cardigan fills you with such pleasantness."
Ignoring his comment, she refused to inform him that it wasn't so much the act that made her thank him – that made her wish to be nice to him – but rather the meaning behind it. Malfoy was renown for his cruelty. He had the ability to act as if he was entitled to whatever he wished to have and never gave a thought to how his behaviour would effect others. Possessions were of little value to him, especially if they belonged to others and if he broke his own, the family fortune could easily afford him something better. Paying to replace a cardigan he ruined of someone he despite was very uncharacteristic of him and Cassie believed his behaviour had been worth acknowledging.
"It's called having manners, you arse, but if you wish to be mean then you can take the cardigan back and shove it up your-."
"Miss Weasley." Snape said sharply. Her insult fell short as she stared up at Professor Snape. "Would you like to share what is so important that you must speak over me? Five points from Gryffindor for your blatant ignorance."
Nodding in defeat, she ducked her head and picked up her quill once more. There was no justifying yourself to Severus Snape and any attempt to defend your actions would only result in more points lost, or even a detention. He was biased towards his own House and unjust towards the others.
"Yes, Mr Malfoy?"
Eyebrows furrowing, Cassie turned to face him along with the rest of the class.
"I regret to inform you that I am the one responsible for talking. Weasley was not at fault." Draco didn't turn to meet her incredulous gaze and brushed off the rest of the class who looked at him in a similar manner.
"Very well, Mr Malfoy. Apologies, Miss Weasley." Snape practically spat before storming back towards the front of the classroom.
Whilst he never returned the points he had taken, an apology was shocking enough. However, Cassie barely paid attention to the fact that Snape had begrudgingly atoned for his harsh comment. She was too busy gawking at Malfoy as if he had grown a second head. Realising his class remained distracted, Snape dismissed the class but his venomous mood ensured he set them all an essay on the correct way to brew the Confusing Concoction. Dazed, Cassie took her time packing away her belongings and just as he turned to leave the classroom, Malfoy finally caught her eye.
"I'm aware you're not used to seeing what having class looks like but find something else to gawk at, Traitor."
The blond shoved past her and yet somehow, Cassie couldn't bring herself to be furious with him for his disgusting comment.
Draco Malfoy had never defended anyone before, not even those in his own House.
By the end of the week, her admiration of his actions had dissipated when the end of Defence Against the Dark Arts saw their feud ignited once more. Eagerly standing near the front of the class, Cassie waited for her first DADA lesson to begin. Professor Lupin had already proven to be a promising teacher but she was also looking forward to being taught more powerful spells and interesting information.
By the age of thirteen, the Ministry of Magic deemed that the witches and wizards were old enough to learn more than the basic spells. Unfortunately, for the past two years, Cassie had been forced to endure learning spells that were below her ability. Since stepping foot on Hogwarts, she had been stealing spell books from Fred and George (and occasionally Percy but he was more likely to notice them missing) and practising the spells out by the Black Lake.
All the chairs in the Staff Room had been pushed to one side. Excitement rippled through the mix of students as they realised the set-up indicated that they were about to have their first practical lesson of the year. The Gryffindors whispered excitedly amongst themselves whilst a small cluster of Slytherins looked on stony faced. True to his nature, Malfoy stood near the back of the room and muttered to his cronies. Their spiteful snickers echoed around the room, putting a slight damper on the lesson.
Neville nervously shuffled to the front of the class when Professor Lupin asked for his assistance. An old wardrobe rattled violently and Lupin revealed that today's lesson would focus around defeating a Boggart first-hand. Immediately, the excitement of the class decreased as anxiousness increased.
"Boggarts can take the shape of whatever it thinks will frighten us most." Hermione recited in response to Lupin's question – not doubt having memorised the passage about them from The Essential Defence Against the Dark Arts.
All of a sudden, the class was no longer eager to begin their advanced learning of the Dark Arts if it meant discovering the thing they feared the most. When Professor Lupin began teaching them the spell needed to defeat a Boggart, most members of the class paid very close attention.
"This class is Riddikulus." Malfoy muttered, looking pleased with himself when Blaise Zabini sniggered.
Terror written plainly across his face, Neville stood in front of the wardrobe as Professor Lupin asked what he believed frightened him most in the world. Nearly everyone in the class let out a chuckle when Neville reluctantly admitted he was petrified of Professor Snape. Cassie brushed away tears as she attempted to calm down but when Seamus snorted in her ear, peals of laughter poured from her mouth once again.
Only a handful of Slytherins (Malfoy, his lackeys, Pugface Parkinson and Bulstrode) remained indifferent, bored looks plastered on their Pureblood faces. Even Zabini was struggling to fight off the grin that kept edging its way onto his face. Asking Neville to retain the image of his grandmother's clothing, Lupin unlocked the wardrobe door and took a step back. Neville was the main focus of the Boggart.
Slowly, the door creaked open. The sound resonated around the room and proceeded to make Neville quake a little more than he previously had been. Boggart Snape took a menacing step towards the boy whose hand shakily raised his wand.
"R – R – Riddikulus!" Neville squeaked.
With a pop sound, Snape was soon dressed in a long, green dress. A musty old hat adorned with a vulture sat atop his dark locks. A fox-fur scarf was draped around his pale neck and a crimson red handbag swung from his left arm. The class roared with laughter and the Boggart glanced around the room in confusion. Cassie clutched her side as she shrieked with amusement.
The remainder of the students hurried to form a line as the Boggart whirled and twisted. Each student thought of what their biggest fear would be and how they could make it look ridiculous as they eagerly awaited their turn. Parvati stepped forward and the Boggart transformed into a bloodied mummy. With a cry, she managed to make the stiff mummy trip over its own bandages and smashed into the floor. Seamus' biggest fear turned out to be a green-faced banshee. As Seamus' spine went ramrod straight, Cassie was reminded of the time he had told her of his fear for them. When he was younger, his mother would tease that the Banshee under his bed would nibble his toes if he misbehaved and kept sneaking into her room. Mrs Finnigan hadn't expected her young son to take it so literally and still be terrified of them almost 12 years later. Clapping her hands over her ears did little to prevent the ear-piercing shriek from assaulting Cassie's ears. Dean was scared of a severed hand that crawled along the floor towards him until he caught it in a mousetrap. Predictably, Ron's biggest fear was a huge spider.
Knowing that her turn was fast approaching due to Harry being next (she was stood behind him), Cassie began ruminating over what her biggest fear was but she had no idea how to make it funny. When she thought long and hard about what scared her most, an image from her most frequent nightmare came to mind. A black robed figure whose face was masked from view reached out a pale, grotesque hand towards her. A blinding flash of green followed a shrill screech.
Thankfully, she needn't worry about what she would see because when Harry stepped forward the Boggart began shifting into a dark, smoky figure. The room dropped a few temperatures and Cassie felt herself getting clammy. Stomach violently churning, Cassie could feel her breakfast mixing together before slowly trying to make its way back up her oesophagus. Before the Dementor could fully take shape, Lupin dashed in front of Harry. The entire class looked on with intrigue as the Boggart morphed into a glowing white orb. Cassie briefly noted that it reminded her of the moon but she filed that away as she gagged.
Knowing that she wouldn't be able to keep it down, Cassie darted out of the classroom before she could empty the contents of her stomach on the Staff Room floor. Concerned voices followed her across the room.
"Pathetic." Malfoy called out as she passed him.
The group of Snakes hissed with laughter as she shouldered past them and rushed towards the nearest girl's bathroom. Cassie's bag in hand, Seamus rushed after her and glared at Malfoy as he went.
Casting a quick spell to rinse out her mouth, the nauseous witch dispelled the stench of vomit and replaced it with a peppermint smell instead. Cold water splashed on her face as she cleaned off the sweat that had collected at her brow. Dust had collected on the mirror that hung above the skin but Cassie could still see the mess her hair had become. She had spent an hour this morning fighting to make it fall straight but now it was returning to its unruly state after she had yanked it out of the way of her vomit. Summoning a small brush that flew through the window, Cassie cleaned up the glass that she had broken before running through the bristles through her red tangles. Pulling it into a high ponytail, she secured it with a Gryffindor ribbon.
Inhaling deeply, she shivered at the chill that lingered in her bones. Despite knowing there was no Dementor following her, happiness had yet to return to her body. As her hand reached for the doorknob, she flinched at her own shadow before reminding herself that there was no threat.
Shutting the door behind her as she left, Cassie let out a short scream when a grinning face appeared before her. Seamus sniggered at the noise and took a step back, safely out of the way when she swung to hit him. Black fabric swung from his finger and Cassie's anger turned into gratitude when she grabbed the strap of her bag from his hand. Hands brushing against each other, Seamus recoiled at her icy touch. Realising she was freezing, he pulled her closer to his side so as to lend her some of his warmth.
"What would you do without me?" Seamus teased in response to yet another thank you from her.
"Have some peace and quiet," she chuckled.
Rolling his eyes, Seamus bumped her before they fell back into silence. Unsure whether he should ask or not, a few minutes passed until Seamus asked if she was all right after her abrupt lesson from the DADA lesson. Eyes trailing the minuscule cracks in the grey flagstones beneath her feet, Cassie struggled with how she should answer that question.
The truthful answer was no; she felt empty inside and she was confused as to why the Dementors affected her more than the others. It wasn't as if she had had a depressing childhood. Her childhood had been filled with happy memories and she and Ron had the same childhood. From birth to present, their lives had been the exact same. And yet, he wasn't vomiting at the first sight of a Dementor. Lying would be the easiest way to move past an unpleasant conversation she had no desire to dive into, and to avoid the emotions swirling within her.
The sooner Sirius Black was caught, the better. At least then Fudge would have no reason to allow Dementors free reign over the grounds of Hogwarts.
Instead of answering the question, Cassie slowed her pace slightly so that she could kick the back of Seamus' knee and watch as she buckled. A dark look passed over Seamus' face as he glared up at the hand that reached out to pull him up.
"I'll get you back for that."
Pink lips moulded into an angelic smile as Cassie looked down at him with an expression she had perfected over the years. A look that said 'no, Mum, I don't know broke it. No, it wasn't me. I had nothing to do with it. I'm afraid I haven't seen the twins since breakfast.' It was the face that had gotten her, Fred and George out of trouble numerous times.
As they entered the courtyard to cut across to the Great Hall, the grating voice of Draco Malfoy floated along the wind and reached their ears; unpleasantly followed by the tittering laughter of his Slytherin entourage.
"Did you see the state of his robes? He most likely took this job because it provided him with free food. Who else would take a cursed position unless their life wasn't worth living in the first place?" Malfoy's platinum blond head disappeared around the corner obvious amongst the dark hair of the small pack of snakes.
Gripping her arm tightly, Seamus warned Cassie that whatever she was about to do wasn't worth it and that there close proximity to the Great Hall meant she was likely to be caught and punished. However, his words fell on deaf ears as Cassie was already darting across the courtyard after the disrespectful boy. Sighing to himself, the Irish lad chased his best friend to ensure she didn't get herself into too much trouble. Furthermore, he didn't want to face the older Weasley twins if they found out he had allowed her to enter a duel on her own.
"Oi, Malfoy." Cassie shouted causing a few students on their way to lunch to stop and watch the drama that unfolded.
The blond stopped in his tracks, shiny shoes turning to face the hurricane that headed towards him. On the outside, he held his arrogant smirk in place but on the inside, he was terrified of the fierce Gryffindor that charged towards him. Green eyes blazing as they looked at him, Draco knew she had heard his comment about Professor Lupin. (He had raised his voice slightly knowing that she was behind him). He knew their moment of peace had shattered earlier when he laughed as she ran from the room. All in all, he knew this interaction was bound to end with him being hurt, whether it be physically or emotionally.
Prepared for the torrent of insults that were bound to spew from Cassie's mouth, he hadn't expected for his heed to reel backwards when a fist smashed into his nose. Pain blossomed across his cheekbones and up into his head. Feeling lightheaded, his feet stumbled and he tripped over himself, landing in an ungraceful heap on the floor. Unsure whether they should hex the bitch that hurt their precious prince or help him up off the ground, the Slytherins looked between the Snake and the Lion in shock. As she stood over his huddled and whimpering form, Cassie felt a surge of power thrumming though her veins. Whilst she tried to ignore it, she felt a sense of superiority. A sense of pride that she had shown him that she was the more powerful of the two.
"You're the one who's pathetic," she hissed. "If you talk about Professor Lupin like that again, I will do a lot more than punch you in the face."
Arm looped through Seamus', Cassie continued on their journey to the Great Hall, thinking about chicken wings. Turning the corner, the duo bumped into Professor Lupin himself who looked down on them with amusement. Fearing that they were about to be given detention, Seamus untangled himself from his fiery friend as if hoping it would show he had no part of the rule breaking that had just occurred.
"Mr Finnigan, Miss Weasley, might I suggest ensuring there are less witnesses next time. Enjoy your lunch. I shall see you both at dinner." Lupin smiled, a twinkle shone in his green eyes.
"Yes, Sir." Both Third Years grinned, watching as Lupin turned the corner.
The Slytherins fell silent and ceased reassuring Malfoy that they would get the 'filthy Blood Traitor'. The eavesdropping Gryffindors let out booming chuckles when Lupin reprimanded Malfoy for rolling around on the floor and politely asked that he behave less like an infant. Lupin was close to fighting McGonagall for top spot as Cassie's 'Favourite Teacher'.
'Just boiling in my blood.
But you think that I can't see.
What kind of man that you are.
If you're a man at all.'