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Chapter 2 : Cassandra's Curse
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As the gaggle of young witches neared what they thought to be a conveniently empty compartment–Sarah having lead the search–they heard a bellowing voice from the inside shout, "MALIS AMOURIA!"
Caught entirely unawares and hit squarely in the chest, with a jet of crimson light, Sarah staggered backward into her companions. She paused but for only a moment before she broke into oddly-sounding giggles, all the while searching about for her attacker. Her glasses hung slightly askew; one of the lenses had popped from its hold and now lay a short distance away to er right. Cletus, having been released moments before from his insufferably small crate, irritably seized the opportunity to sit upon it and wash himself.
Ignoring her friends' sputtering concerns, she struggled to stand and summoned the lense back to its proper place, nearly managing to send it straight into her eye.
"Oh... Sorry, Sarah," came a chuckle from the doorway, though it really didn't seem to be apologetic in the least bit. "I meant to get... oh, nevermind."
It took a moment for the circle of six to register of whom the voice belonged to, as none of them seemed to have thought to actually look. Perhaps it was that they had become too distracted by the great blob of a cat whom had flopped over onto his back by the force of the airbourne lense and was now struggling madly with his four tiny paws clawing at the air. Or, per chance, it could have been because Sarah had now fallen into a fit of maniacal laughter for seemingly no reason at all.
Whichever it was, Cassandra Mortimer did not care. The fact was that she was seemingly nonexistant to them, or was otherwise just being ignored. Neither of which pleased her. She shrugged and turned to retreat inside of he jostling compartment.
"Fine. Just... ignore me, then," she mutered rather huffily. Freaks. She rolled her eyes and grinned as she felt herself being attacked from behind.
"DANA!" Amber shrieked, her salutations startling a couple from an extremely intimate moment in the adjoining compartment.
"I told you not to call me that," Cassandra hissed, "They might be listening." Her eyes darted shiftily about them, though she did not elabourate as to who 'they' were. Amber tried to follow her gaze, but merely ended up glaring at an unsuspecting first-year passing by at that precise moment, terrifying him into such a deeply flustered shade of crimson; he shot her a horrified look and stumbled away. Cassandra laughed.
"Sorry." The blonde grinned, and she began to inspect her friend closely. And after a moment, she added, "You've changed your hair again."
Cassandra glanced down at her maroon-tipped locks–which were otherwise brown–and she shrugged indifferently. "I don't like it that much." As she said this, a bespectacled face poked out into the hall, a strand of light, wavy blonde feathering about it. She exerted a small squeak, and Amber immediately abandoned Cassandra for the latter.
"Hareyu!" she cried excitedly, pulling her into a quick embrace.
"Anberu!" squealed Haley Shoroni, returning the favor. The two hopped about ecstatically until they noticed the others staring peculiarly at them.
"Right. Let's sit here, then."
The flock of eight noisily filed into the compartment, cramming themselves onto the seats so that there was room enough for all of them. Elaina, being the last to enter, was despairingly forced to be seated upon the floor with a temperamental Cletus sulking in her lap.
"We didn't know you were on the train alredy," Lizzy mused.
"Yeah, we were going to leave you behind," joked Jennifer, when her face suddenly became deathly serious. "But there are only eight of us. Where's-"
Erin Kanagaris was feeling very sour indeed, her expression of displeasure mirrored on the face of her rather lumpy tabby cat. And the reason for her foul spirits was simply that the train had left some time ago, leaving the brunette to stare angrily down the tracks in the direction she supposed it had gone. She hand't meant to be late, of course, fate had just seemed to play out that way. It hadn't helped her desperate situation, either, to have countless glassy-eyed muggles shoot curious glances and obstruct her path. But the little fools had got what they wanted, she thought bitterly to herself, pitying the position she seemed to be in.
"Shut up, Hobbes," she growled, the cat beginning to yowl feverishly and clawing at the bars of her crate. Erin briefly took a moment to mimic the animal's call in a rather obnoxious and mocking manner, which seemed to astonish her into silence.
"Finally." She rolled her eyes dispiritedly. Her heart had begun to pound alarmingly hard against her ribcage, her worries increasing the longer she stared after the Hogwarts Express.
It was unthinkable, really. She, a Slytherin and the eldest of their circle of nine–being in her sixth year that term–had stooped herself into an unnacceptable lapse which allowed her to act so irresponsibly. Oh, how she wished that her mother hadn't simply left her at the station all alone that morning! Something like this was bound to happen.
"Mum," she mewled unhappiily, recalling that her owl was still in her mother's possession at the moment. Of course, she'd just had to have chosen today to borrow her! How could she possibly reach Hogwarts now?
And so, as fate would always seemed to have it, the weather suddenly decided that it should rain.
"Missed the train, have you?"
Erin swivelled, then raised her eyebrows in surprise.
An unusual silence had settled about the compartment. None of them had actually wished for someone to be left behind; they had merely taken Amber's comment in jest, and so had fallen into a state of shock. Sarah glanced at Cassandra warily, though she still seemed unable to cease grinning for a reason that she, herself, was not even aware of.
"So," she suddenly said, "What does that spell actually do?" Cassandra avoided her gaze in mock-innocence whilst she yet again shrugged.
"I dunno, I've never used it before. Someone wrote it in chewing gum under the seat cushion."
Fiona shuddered and Elaina's expression was one of horror mixed with disgust. Though, neither of them voiced the queries as to what she had been up to in order to find such a lovely surprise. Haley had recoiled slightly from the memory, (as she had been present inside of the compartment at the time), and muttered, "Don't ask," under her breath.
"Er, should we see what the 'curse' does, then?" Jenni suggested, eager and curious to learn more about the odd new incantation.
Cassandra grinned, a malicious glint gleaming at the corner of her eye, and Jenni began to wonder if the deranged Slytherin knew precisely what was going to happen. She scrutinized her closely with an air of distrust, but pursed her lips and gazed at her skeptically.
"How do you think it works, Cassie?' Lizzy inquired whilst toying with a foreign device inside of her pocket. (Upon closer examination, Amber discovered that it was one of the muggle 'fellycones' that had earlier been brought into the conversation.)
Cassie scowled, but all-too-quickly suggested, "What if we said her name-"
"Sarah," piped Fiona.
They stared at the accursed blonde expectantly.
"No, like, Sarah Gilnor."
Sarah suddenly began to feel an odd, prickling sensation in her fingers, as if they had been plunged into a vat of particularly carbonated substances. Her mind buzzed and her eyes glazed over, her feet moving of their own accord as she stood. She seemed to be entirely oblivious to the curious–and rather bemused–looks she was receiving from her companions, for instead of responding to any of their silent questions, she stiffly slid open the compartment door and strode away.
Silently, the remaining seven scuttled after her. Sarah looked to be aware of precisely where she was headed off to–though her gait was rather unusually stiff–for she had soon entered another compartment.
"What is she doing?" Elaina whispered in an amused tone.
"I think she's–oh my–" Amber stifled a mad rush of tittering giggles. "I believe... Harry's in there!"
And indeed he was. The girls peered in excitedly, their heads poking in just enough to see the curse's effect displayed clearly before them.
"Er, hello, Sarah, what're you-?"
Harry emitted a howl and clutched his hand protectively over his cheek. "W-what was that for?" he sputtered, the poor chap goggling at the fifth year as though she had suddenly turned into Severus Snape and was performing a rather suggestive dance involving a headless hinkypunk.
"Oh, hello, Harry. What're you doing here?" Sarah blinked, snapping from her trance as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred.
An explosion of laughter erupted from the doorway, and the two turned in surprise. Cassandra, Haley, and Fiona seemed unable to breathe, whilst Lizzy was gasping violently. Jennifer and Elaina had tears streaming in trails about their cheeks. Amber had collapsed upon the floor, and was rolling about wildly.
"S-Sarah Gilnor!" Cassandra managed to choke out.
Harry moaned and threw up his hands in a feeble attempt to cover his face, his rounded spectacles now sporting a small crack near the bridge of his nose.
"What the hell have you done to her?!"
"Wood," Erin muttered acknowledgingly. She attempted to disguise her grattitude at his appearance, for now there was a pinch of hope that somehow, she would reach Hogwarts.
But for her saviour to be Oliver Wood? She gulped.
"Kanagaris." His expression was smug. He was generally a pleasant person, though a bit competitive whem it came to Quidditch–which it often happened to do. Erin nearly sighed, or otherwise allowed her mouth to hang open slightly.
Hobbes hissed spitefully at the newcomer. She didn't take well to Wood, strangers in general, or even any being other than her mistress herself. (That is to say, the cat adored anyone who supplied her with a bit of tuna.) But Oliver, especially, after a rather nasty incident involving a Quaffle four years prior.
"I suppose you'd like help, then," he stated. At least, it didn't seem to be supplied as a question, though she couldn't actually tell.
Erin smiled uneasily. "Um, yeah..." she muttered, not really paying any mind at all to what he had said. The Slytherin nodded slowly whenever she heard some sort of sound and registered that his lips were moving, a dazed dullness in her eyes.
"...never Apparated with another person before, so I hope I don't end up Splinching either of us..."
"...don't know if it will work..."
"...but it's worth a shot..."
"...so if you'll just grab on my arm, we'll be off." He looked at her expectantly. She, however, had not heard a word.
"Wait, what?" Erin gazed at him blankly.
Wood narrowed his eyes in impatience. "Kanagaris, we're Apparating to Hogwarts."
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