You get everything you want
And money always talks
To the idiot savants
Moonlight filtered in through the badly-drawn curtains that were next to Lavender Brown's bed. The rest of the Third Year girls had told their dorm-mate numerous times to ensure she shut them properly. Yet each morning, they woke to the sun shining in their eyes and Lavender was still blissfully asleep. Soft beams slid across the room, illuminating the slight sheen of sweat coating the young Weasley's face. Legs twisted in the blanket, Cassie kicked out as she slept fitfully. Turning over, a small whimper came from the back of her throat. Beneath closed lids, her eyes moved rapidly as she fought against whatever was haunting her dreams.
A sob tumbled past her lips and she tossed once more, rousing Hermione from her own sleep. Snores came from Lavender's section of the room, muffled slightly when she snuggled deeper into the covers. Parvati Patil let out a small cough before flipping onto her stomach and burrowing her head under the pillow. Neither one of them showed any signs of hearing the effects of Cassie's dark dreaming. Quiet – albeit hysterical – pleas bubbled past the pale girl's lips and she kicked out in an attempt to fight off the demons plaguing her.
Pushing back the covers, Hermione slid out of her bed. Crossing the five feet of space between them, the bushy-haired girl reached Cassie's bed. Hermione had chosen the section of the room that was closest to the door whilst Cassie – who was placed to the right of Hermione – had the bed closest to the bathroom. (Well, chose was to imply they had voluntarily picked their beds when in truth, they had been told where to sleep by their other two roommates). Perching on the edge of her best friend's bed, Hermione gently brushed her hand through the red locks splayed across the pillow. As she stroked, she made soothing sounds in the hopes of easing her friend's pain. Even though her body stopped thrashing, Cassie's chest heaved as her heart pounded frantically. Just as Hermione's hand connected with Cassie's shoulder so as to rouse her from sleep, green eyes shot open.
Wild eyes darting around the room, her body remained immobilised as her brain struggled to process where she was. Her breath came out in pants as she took in the four familiar bedposts. Body trembling, Cassie shivered as her shaky hands accepted the glass of water from her friend. Apologising for waking her, the Weasley gently coaxed Hermione back into her own bed after promising that she was fine.
Stumbling into the bathroom, the frightened girl ran the cold tap before splashing the ice water onto her face. She was okay. She was alive. Cassie patted her face dry with the grey towel that belonged to her (Lavender's was pink, Parvati's was a fluffy white and Hermione's was a neatly folded red). A sliver of her face showed in the mirror and she caught a glimpse of her ghostly appearance. Staring at her pale face and blotchy eyes, a blinding flash of green filled up the glass. A petrified squeak bubbled past her lip as she whirled around. Head smacking on the corner of the bathroom cabinet, pain raced down her spine. Ignoring the trickle of blood, she stared at the space between her and the door, expecting a dark-robed figure to materialise from the shadows. There was nothing there. No dead bodies. No pleading wails. She was all alone.
Sinking to the floor, she pulled her knees up to her chin, silently choking on her sobs and the slight drops of blood that slid down her face.
Steam rose from the ginormous cup as she stirred in two heaps of sugar. Placing it in front of the distraught Professor, she patted him softly on the end before setting about making herself a smaller cup. Thirty minutes ago, Cassie had knocked on Hagrid's door for a visit as she hadn't seen him since their return to Hogwarts. Unfortunately, her plans for a cheerful visit evaporated when Hagrid burst into tears at the sight of her. A letter had been clutched in his hand. Since then, the redhead had managed to calm him for long enough that she had deciphered what had caused such distress in the first place. When he finally stopped blubbering long enough to talk, he would speak about three words before he began crying once again. Unable to leave him in such a state, Cassie remained behind and felt her cheerful mood sucked away.
A knock at the door commandeered the attention of those inside. Fang timidly poked his head out of the basket he had burrowed himself in, frightened by the hut-shaking sobs. Hearing Harry's voice, the green-eyed girl placed the copper kettle above the blazing fire. Clambering onto the step, she reached the cupboard and grabbed another three mugs from the cupboard. Sobs came from the door as Hagrid cracked it open, staring at the remaining members of the Golden Quartet.
"You've heard?" He asked, tears splashing onto his vest.
Hagrid threw himself onto Harry, practically squashing the much smaller wizard. Thankfully, Ron and Hermione managed to pull the half-giant off Harry before he collapsed under the weight. The other two escorted the trembling man back into the cabin and safely into an oversized armchair. Surprised at the presence of his twin sister, the ginger boy questioned how Cassie had managed to sneak out without any of them noticing.
"It's called waking up early, Ronald. You should try it sometime," she responded, rolling her eyes.
Hermione had been awake when Cassie left the Common Room but her friend had simply claimed she was going for a walk around the grounds. A large mug was placed in front of her and she thanked the maternal girl. Slumped over the table, Hagrid's shoulders shook as his cries echoed around the curved walls of the hut. The tear-stained Ministry letter lay discarded on the table until spotted by the bespectacled boy. Harry inquired as to what it was but that only served to make Hagrid tear up even more.
Knowing Hagrid was too hysterical to explain, Cassie plucked it off from the table and passed it to Harry who then read it out loud to the other two. Cassie had already read it. She had also allowed it to send her into a blind fury that spiralled into a dark rant about the various hexes she would like to bestow upon the person responsible for the letter being sent. Numerous foul words slipped out of her mouth as she yelled and she knew that without the anger, she never would've uttered such curses in front of a Professor. Luckily, Hagrid was most likely too emotional to process what she was saying.
Harry informed the group that the contents of the letter mentioned the incident that had occurred during Hagrid's first lesson. The authors of the letter stated that they accepted Dumbledore's assurances that Hagrid was in no way responsible for the incident. Clapping the Professor on the back, Ron was cheerful that their friend wouldn't be punished for the idiotic behaviour of Draco Malfoy. Much to his surprise, Ron's action had the wrong effect on Hagrid as he only cried harder. Glancing at his sister in alarm, Ron was dismayed when she shook her head.
"Keep reading," said Cassie softly, unshed tears pooling in her eyes.
Whatever they were about to read was the polar opposite to good news. The second half of the letter voiced concerns about the hazard that the Hippogriff posed if left unchecked. Following on from Lucius Malfoy's complaint about the damage done to his son's arm, the school governors demanded that Hagrid bring Buckbeak before the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures for a hearing. Malfoy must have run to his father snivelling about the brutal injury he had sustained. In turn, Malfoy Sr. had demanded the execution of the beautiful Hippogriff.
Much to the dismay of her friends, Cassie had read the majority of the cases brought before the Committee and it was practically unheard of for the hearing to end in favour of the interesting creatures. Dejected, the young animal-lover reached over and patted the half-horse half-eagle affectionately on the head. He truly was a loveable beast so long as you didn't damage his ego. Buckbeak made an appreciative noise at her touch and continued chomping on the dead animal in his mouth. Blood trickled onto the wooden floor but Hagrid paid it no attention. The chirps garnered the attention of Harry, Hermione and Ron.
"I couldn' leave him tied up out there in the snow!" Hagrid bellowed after receiving quizzical looks. "Not on his own at Christmas."
With the promise that they would help find evidence or information that could aid in clearing Buckbeak's name against the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures, the Golden Quartet departed from the hut an hour later. After ensuring that Hagrid was stable enough to be left alone, they vowed to return before Christmas with parchments full of knowledge. Hearts heavier than they had been that morning, the four of them snuggled in close as they clambered up all the stairs to the castle.
Concealed from view behind the tall stacks of books, Cassie had taken up residence at her table in the Library. No one ever sat at it due to the distance from helpful books and the door and so she had claimed her stake to it. Now, no one else was allowed to sit at it. When the castle was bustling with students, her dim corner of the library was secluded from prying eyes. With it being the first day of the Christmas break, there were not many eyes left in the castle to pry but still she hid. It was time away from the world with nothing but thick volumes of literature to bother her.
Flipping through book after book after book, her frustration spiked. Spine cracking as she straightened, Cassie groaned as her muscles seized in protest to being moved after they had fallen asleep. The moon filtered in through the high windows and the teenaged-girl glanced at her watch with a weary expression. She had been at it for five hours (she had slipped into the library after lunch) and she felt as if she had made no progress. Old newspaper articles were stacked high on the chair to the right of her. A neat – but small – pile rested on the floor consisting of those she read. It was pathetic in comparison to those she had left.
Sheets of parchment littered the table with frantic writing scrawled across them. Typically, her print was neat and equivalent in size. The scribbles before her were hurried and messy. Half of them contained facts that would help Buckbeak in his fight against the devils (those who worked in the Disposal Department). The other half had been titled 'Do Not Do Under Any Circumstance' so that Hagrid knew what he should avoid saying before and during his hearing. Eyes scanning the text, she paid no attention to the footsteps that echoed throughout the near-silent room.
Unable to return home with the other students that morning, the young man had decided to make the most of an empty Common Room. His parents had yet to return from their trip to France and so he was to remain at school for an additional two days. By the time he had decided to curl in front of the fire with a book, he realised he had read all those that he had stashed at the bottom of his trunk. Not desperate enough to flick through his textbooks again, he strolled through the vacant corridors until he wound up before the doors to the Library.
During their last Potions lesson before the holidays, he learnt that the redhead who often hid within these dusty shelves had opted to remain at school these holidays. Even though it was unlikely that she would be here instead of getting ready for dinner, his feet carried him towards her 'reserved' seat. He had caught her there a few times when he'd been on a hunt for the interesting books that tended to be hidden at the back of the Library. Revolted by the urge to see her, the blond brushed it off as a need to insult someone. An empty Common Room and a desolate castle meant there was no one for him to order around. Practically all of the Slytherins returned home for the holidays so that their parents could parade them around during Pureblood Parties. The lack of First Years meant there wasn't many people left for him to degrade. He had to find some way to boost his sense of superiority elsewhere. Perhaps Cassie would be the one to do that.
The scratching of a quill reached his ears and his pace hurried slightly. Anticipation rose in his chest. At first it was tricky to spot the top of her head behind the fort of books she had built. A small gap allowed him to take a moment to watch her before Cassie spotted him. Amusement sparkled in his eyes when he spotted the tip of her tongue poking out from her lips as she concentrated. Ink stained her fingers as her hand flitted across the parchment, unbothered by the smudges she was creating. That's not like her, he thought. He had seen her notes many times in class and they were neat, organised and unblemished. She usually charmed away any ink stains.
Strands of hair fell into her face, having come loose from the bun she had pulled her hair into. He was privy to a hidden side of Cassandra Weasley. Typically her hair was down and styled but he was seeing it in a frazzled mess. She did her best to keep things neat and presentable despite her worn-down uniform and books so this was a surprise. Not wanting to spy any longer, the blue-eyed boy cleared his throat and commanded her attention. Startled by the presence of another human, she flinched ever-so-slightly before her eyes narrowed. The snake glanced down at the stack of papers and stumbled back a step, realising why the lion looked at him so furiously. At this rate, when isn't she furious at me. I should start keeping a list, he mentally snorted.
"What are you doing here, Malfoy?"
His name had been used in venomous contexts before (by her and her friends) but he was rather impressed by how she had managed to make it sound like an insult. Sliding into the seat opposite her, he found himself grateful that she liked to sit in a secluded corner. Though the risk of being spotted was minimal, it wasn't non-existent and he didn't want to be seen willingly conversing with the Weasley. The last thing he needed was his father knowing he had sat across from a Traitor. Subtly, Cassie covered the sheet of parchment she was working on; not trusting the liar around her valuable notes.
"Public domain." He shot back, gesturing around him. "Besides, I thought you would be happy to see me, Worm."
Cassie scoffed in disgust. Perturbed by her lack of words as she often had much to say, Draco leaned in closer. A grin was plastered on his face. Spearmint washed over her mere seconds before his expensive cologne surrounded her. It was almost as if she could smell the money that had bought it. Cassie found she was disgusted and enticed by it.
"Are you giving me the silent treatment? Good luck with that," he muttered the last part lowly.
Judging by the hard set to her jaw, she certainly heard him.
"Do you not have some First Years to run around and torture? No, wait. You've moved on to sentencing beautiful, harmless animals to death. That's what helps you sleep at night, right? Please do correct me if I'm wrong."
"You know you don't have to be such a scathing bitch all the time." Draco spat.
Both of them were taken aback. Insults had been exchanged during every interaction between them but he had somehow avoided using curse words. Since she had arrived at Hogwarts, Cassie had been called a bitch or 'bitchy' numerous times – most of the time it was by Lavender, Parvati and Pansy Parkinson – but she paid it no attention. It never bothered her and she ignored them. Hearing it from Draco's mouth stung a little. Merlin knew it was justified as he received most of her bitchiness but her stomach clenched and there was a pain in the back of her throat.
Grinding her teeth, she broke the eye contact between them. Quill in hand once more, she did her best to feign an air of ignorance as she turned the page.
"Careful, Malfoy. If you start using common words, people might start thinking you're less than the purebred shit you were brought up to be."
By now, she would've stormed off, not allowing him to have the last word or continuing to indulge him. However, the books surrounding her were too precious to leave behind and there were too many to pack up and try and carry out of the Library. Or, at least she wouldn't be able to do it with her dignity still intact. Cassie wrapped her ankles around the legs of her chair to stop her feet from twitching with the intense need to connect with his shin. It was just a natural reaction his presence seemed to invoke.
Draco's eyes ignited with his own anger and they stared at each other with hatred. How dare she speak to me that way? Does she not remember who I am? I'm her better. Unused to such cruel words (despite the fact that she had kicked him once or twice), Draco snarled.
"Watch what you say to me, Blood Traitor."
"I'm not afraid of you, inbreed."
Chest heaving, he was shocked to find that – for the first time in almost three years – he wanted to reach over and smack her. "You should be."
"Please, you're pathetic," she whispered, glancing up at him with a twisted smile on her glossy lips.
Draco exploded. "I'm sorry, okay?! Is that what you wish for me to say? You want me to fall to my knees and tell you that I regret what is going to happen to the beast? I'm not a monster! I happen to like animals. I know what happens in these cases. I've read those papers too! I never meant for any of this to happen when I provoked the bird but there's nothing I can do about it now!"
"You could testify, you twat!" She hissed back, refusing to allow his words to quench her anger.
Opening his mouth to retort, Draco closed it and let out a grunt of frustration. He turned on his heel and stormed off. The library door slammed shut behind him. Madam Pince materialised to glare at the offender before realising he had gone and returning to her task. Marching down the hallway, Draco uncharacteristically ran a hand through his air, messing the neatly-styled hair.
She would never understand. Her parents loved her unconditionally, regardless of weakness or mistakes. They would never belittle her simply because she showed compassion towards animals. If anything, she would probably be allowed to keep it as a pet. (Cassie owned a mouse once after finding it in the garden. It only lasted a week but that's a story best told by Gred and Forge).
Upon discovering that his father had complained about the Hippogriff, Draco had sent a letter asking that Lucius reconsider taking the incident further to the Department of Disposal. He had received such a scathing response that he threw the parchment into the fireplace and vowed not to speak of it again. Cassie would never understand. Her family life was easy.
Now shut your dirty mouth
So bite your tongue
And choke yourself to sleep