This story is a sequel to my story Among the Muggles . . . Again. I think it is important to have read the first story before you read this one or you will be fairly confused.
This story begins several months after the scene in Dumbledore's office. Cassie Robinson has been trying to adjust to life after her visit to Hogwarts with limited success. However, something happens that suddenly thrusts her back into the magical community. Old scars will be reopened and feelings will have to be re-examined as Cassie meets her wizarding friends again.
As always, I would appreciate any comments, questions, or reviews.
It was perhaps the strangest sight ever witnessed in the Robinson family room. In the middle of the room stood an open travel trunk, nearly full. Inside were some books, witch's robes, a witch's hat, some quills and parchment, and a broomstick. While the Robinsons had certainly used their family room to pack for trips before, they had never before packed to send someone to Hogwarts.
Into the room came Cassie followed closely by her mother, who had a pinched, tired look around her mouth. Cassie was dressed in a white blouse and pleated gray skirt which ended just above her knees. She wore the red and gold tie of Gryffindor house knotted neatly around her neck. Over all of this she wore one of the black robes required for the young witches and wizards at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Cassie was carrying a make-up case and some Muggle clothing. Her mother was also carrying some of Cassie's clothes, a particularly bulky pile of sweaters. They both put their things into the trunk and Cassie closed the lid. "Honestly, Mum, don't worry so much. I'm sure I won't freeze to death. They have fireplaces all through the castle."
"That may be but Remus said you have at least two classes outside. And I don't think this robe will do much to keep you warm." She fingered the thin material and her lips pinched together even tighter.
"Everyone else manages to survive, Mother, I'm sure they must have some sort of provision made."
"But Scotland, northern Scotland. It's going to be so . . ."
"Rebecca, don't worry. All the students do just fine there. We don't like them freezing to death," Arthur Weasley said gently.
"Well, but . . ." She didn't look very convinced. She looked to her husband for some support, but he just stared at his daughter and didn't say a word. Cassie looked from her mother to the three men watching her from near the fire. She smiled self-consciously. Her mother was certainly making a fuss. The light from the fire and lamps in the room reflected across her face which deepened the contrast between her blond hair and her somber black robes.
"You look perfect." Remus Lupin smiled at her and Cassie relaxed. It had been important that he think so. "Professor Dumbledore took the liberty of assigning you to Gryffindor. He decided that having you sorted might be, um, problematic. So Arthur picked the Gryffindor scarf and tie up for you.
Mr. Weasley smiled broadly and looked on in appreciation at Cassie's new uniform. "You do look wonderful, Cassie." He turned to her father, still looking amazed and bewildered at the scene before him. "She'll do fine, Andrew. You don't need to worry. Muggle-born children adapt quickly to the differences. She'll fit right in."
"I'll be fine, Dad. I really will."
Andrew Robinson forced a reassuring smile but it didn't quite reach his eyes. "I know you will, sweety. It's just a lot happening all at once. Two days ago I thought witches and wizards only existed in fairy tales. Then, you tell me that Harry Evans, uh, Potter, is actually a wizard who goes to wizard school. And now I'm watching you go off to this same school in Scotland and who knows where after that."
Arthur soothingly patted Cassie's father on the shoulder. "I understand, Andrew. It's just that now that Cassie knows, it's best to get her away from the Muggles and to Hogwarts as soon as possible." He suddenly flushed. "Sorry about that Muggles comment." Cassie's parents smiled patiently back at Arthur. They had taken almost immediately to him - even before they knew he was a wizard. They had found him odd, interesting, funny, and enjoyable to visit with. Although it took a little persuading for the Robinsons to believe that both Arthur and Remus were wizards, they eventually had. And they trusted the two older wizards with Cassie. Of course, Cassie wondered if that would still be the case if she told them Remus' secret, that in only a few days before he would be a full-grown wolf, again. Not that she would, of course, but she imagined she would be keeping a lot more secrets from them now then she ever had before.
"It is highly irregular for a student to be placed in Hogwarts in the middle of the school year. However, circumstances being what they are . . . . Dumbledore is taking care of all of that. We'll be going directly to his office when we portkey." He turned to Cassie. "Do you have your wand with you?"
Cassie fished into a pocket of her robes and pulled out a 9 ½ inch cherry wood wand with a core of unicorn hair. Cassie had been very excited to know that her wand would have a unicorn hair in it. Since she was a little girl, she had loved unicorns and thought they were beautiful. She had been thrilled when she was at Hogwarts in June to not only learn that unicorns were real and to not only see one, but to actually be able to pet one. Cassie's thoughts were brought back to the present as she heard Mr. Weasley explaining how she had to keep her wand with her. "Remember, Cassie, witches and wizards try to keep their wands with them at all times in case they need them. You should do the same - either in your robe pocket or the pockets of your Muggle clothes."
Cassie nodded and fidgeted a little out of nervousness. "I hope I remembered everything. I guess if I forgot anything, mum, you could send it by owl post." At the puzzled and worried expression on her parents' faces, Mr. Weasley again spoke up.
"I'll explain how to send things to her in a few moments." Somehow, her parents didn't look comforted at the idea, but they let the subject drop as Remus pulled a cloth bag out of his pocket.
Here's a little spending money, Cassie. This should last for a while. Do you know how the money works?"
"Um, yeah. I think so. It's 27 knuts to the sickle and 17 sickles to the Galleon, right?"
"That's impressive. But it's actually 29 knuts to the sickle."
"Oh. Sorry." Cassie felt a blush creep over her face. She wondered if she'd ever fit in to this world. Right now she had her serious doubts.
"There's one more thing. Rebecca, Andrew. I don't imagine Cassie told you about Hogsmeade?" Both her parents shook their head and Arthur again jumped in.
"The students love it. They can go in their third year and up, so Cassie'll be allowed. I think there's probably a trip in a week or so."
"What is it, exactly?" Her father had been a brick about all of this but he was still concerned about her safety.
Remus answered his question. "It's a village. The only completely wizarding village in Britain. It's very close to the school and the students can go there to buy sweets and school supplies and socialize. Honeydukes is there." He looked meaningfully at Cassie's mom and she turned a pale shade of pink. "But she will need a permission form signed. I brought one with me tonight. I think that Cassie would have a wonderful time there and it would allow her to fit in a little easier. That's important, I'm sure you'll agree."
"Okay." Cassie bit her lip as her father signed the paper. His hand shook a little as he finished and handed it back to Remus. She felt so bad for doing this to her parents but did she really have any choice? "Are the visits supervised? I wouldn't want her to get into any trouble."
Mr. Weasley answered again and Cassie appreciated him. He had children of his own and so he could understand her parents' worries. "I can understand your concerns, considering the circumstances. But there's no reason to worry. The students keep an eye on each other and I am sure that her friends will stick close. And, truthfully, the teachers often go down to Hogsmeade for a nip in the Three Broomsticks. In the winter, the students often hang out there and have a warm butterbeer or two themselves." Cassie groaned to herself. Did he have to mention butterbeer? Maybe her parents wouldn't notice. They noticed.
"Butterbeer? Is it alcoholic? Cassie, you know you are too young to . . . ."
"Don't worry, don't worry. Shouldn't have mentioned it, I suppose. It's only got a very little bit, I mean, it's barely, well, I mean . . . ." His voice trailed off and he looked at Cassie apologetically.
"Mum, Dad. Don't worry. I know how to take care of . . . ." But she was not able to finish her sentence before her mother jumped onto another subject. Cassie bit her lip. She supposed it was natural that her parents would be worried. She was being plunged suddenly into a world that they knew nothing about and one where they could not follow. She needed to be patient. She glanced in what she hoped was a sly manner at her watch. Remus had said they would be leaving at 7. That meant she had about 10 more minutes to endure her mother's fretting and her father's shell-shocked expression.
"And, Cassie, you make sure to eat healthy." Turning to Remus, she elaborated. "Cassie said that when she ate dinner there, she did not see any vegetables or salads or anything. I know that traditional British food is rather sparse on the vegetables and I understand that's the menu at the school, basically."
"Well," Remus answered, obviously a little taken aback by this line of questioning, "I have seen vegetables and salads offered at most meals . . . . It's just that particular night, I think that it was more of a comfort food sort of thing. I mean, all things considered . . ." Cassie started shaking her head behind her mother's back frantically, praying with all of her might that Remus would notice and not follow that conversation through to its natural conclusion. She had told her mother about the battle and everything, but her father still didn't know any details. Apparently, her prayers were answered because Remus looked up at the movement and understood. "Uh, um, well . . . there were vegetables that night. There are always vegetables." Cassie's mother relaxed a little more when he said that. "Anyway, we can speak to the house elves about . . . ."
Her father laughed loudly and everyone turned to looked at him, Remus and Arthur looking faintly puzzled and Cassie and her mother looking embarrassed. Andrew Robinson quickly recognized his faux pas and stammered "Oh, well, I, I thought you were joking, uh, you know, about the elves. Sorry." Remus and Arthur smiled and turned back to Cassie and her mother.
"Anyway, we can talk to the elves and they'll make sure that she eats things she is comfortable with. Do not worry about it, all right? I think you have enough on your mind." Both her parents nodded and Cassie's mother even smiled a little.
"Remember, drink a lot of juice for breakfast. It will help you avoid getting sick, especially if you're out in the cold a lot."
Cassie grinned. "Oh, don't worry, I'll drink plenty of pumpkin juice. It's delicious."
Her father got a sick look on his face. "Pumpkin juice? That's disgusting."
Arthur jumped in. "It's really quite good, especially when served chilled. Maybe I can bring you some sometime." Neither of the Robinsons looked too excited at that suggestion.
"Mum, I don't know why you are so worried. You left me here alone, well, with Harry, for a week last summer and trusted me to take care of myself. And I did okay." Her mother turned and Cassie swore that there was fire in her mother's eyes.
"If I were you, young lady, I would not be bringing up that week as evidence of your trustworthiness. You broke multiple rules, not the least of which was going to Scotland. So I don't know that . . . ."
"Now, Rebecca," Cassie's father broke in. "She's explained all that. You can't hold it against her." Cassie swallowed hard. She definitely should not have brought up that subject. Her mother was right. She and Harry had gotten into some difficulties, but neither of them could be blamed for any of it. They had tried to be careful. She had stayed overnight at Harry's, it was true, but how could she do otherwise when a Death Eater was practically camped on his front step, and then she had gone to Hogwarts and joined in the middle of a battle, but that was for her own protection. She searched frantically in her mind for a way to change the subject before her mother started in on her again. Fortunately, Remus saved her.
"We're almost ready to leave. The portkey will take us right at 7." Arthur seemed to want to explain more about this option in the hopes of calming the two Muggles down, but Cassie thought he was probably just making her parents more nervous.
"We considered having her go by Floo powder. Young witches and wizards usually travel that way until they get their license to apparate. But we decided that using the portkey would be better." Arthur saw the puzzlement on their faces and hastened to elaborate. "Floo powder is a way of traveling through connected fireplaces. You step into the flames and then throw . . . ." Her parents had a look of utmost horror on their faces and Arthur seemed to realize that he was not helping the situation. "Uh, well, anyway. They're not doing that."
Cassie stepped toward her parents and swallowed hard. She hugged her father and he hugged her back and then kissed her cheek. She then turned to her mother and they hugged for a long time. Her mother wiped her eyes and attempted to smile. Cassie felt an ache in the back of her throat and realized this was going to be harder than she had thought. Now it was her turn to put on a brave smile.
"I'll be okay, mum. I really will."
"I know, dear. I do trust you, I really do. Don't worry about us, either. We'll be fine. You just enjoy it as much as you can."
"Be sure to give Matthew and John a hug for me."
"You know I will. They're going to miss you, despite everything they said." Cassie smiled faintly. Her mother had sent her two younger brothers to friends that evening so they wouldn't get in the way of the packing and everything. The brothers had pretended utter joy and excitement at Cassie's departure, arguing over who would get her room.
Cassie straightened her shoulders and walked over to her trunk. Remus sat on one end and held the handle. Cassie sat next to him and grabbed the handle on her end. He reached into the pocket of his robe and pulled out the now-familiar lion paperweight. She laid her hand on the lion's head. "We've got just another few moments, Cassie." She nodded.
"I hope this is easier than the other times I've traveled by portkey." She had found it very unpleasant in the past, landing in very awkward positions at Hogwarts, in Diagon Alley, and back at home.
"It does get a little easier each time. But I don't know that you ever get used to it."
Cassie looked at her parents and did her best to give a reassuring smile. They were also trying to smile and Cassie tried to relax for their sakes. All kinds of thoughts were racing through her head at that moment. She was scared, curious, worried, happy, sad . . . . She had only one time before been so far from her family and that hadn't worked out particularly well. Now she was going to be just as far away for a lot longer than a week. She hoped things would work out. She hoped it would all go the way it was supposed to. She was homesick already. And yet, she felt a thrill of excitement. She was doing something she had not thought would ever be possible. She was going back to Hogwarts, as a student! Then she felt the now-familiar tug behind her navel and her parents, Arthur Weasley, and her family room disappeared.