“So what are you doing now?” James asked, peering over my shoulder.
“Getting slightly annoyed at your badgering?” I suggested, leaning unconsciously close to the laptop.
“That’s funny, see, because you’re the Hufflepuff here,”
“This would be so much easier if you could just guess what his password would be,” I said trying changing the URL link but finding myself still blocked by the error message (ignoring James comment completely).
“How would I know? Could be anything – Dumbledore, Hedwig, Scabbers...” James continued, still hovering over me. I could feel his presence, just far enough away so that our skin wasn’t touching (as well as sensing his stupid eagerness over the whole thing), “I mean, I can guess all you want – I’m just not very likely to get it right,”
“Two more seconds,”
“You’re just clicking buttons, surely, you can’t actually hack into the Ministry system – this is just some crazy...”
“I’m in,” I said, not believing it myself, “crap – where do we go now?”
“You are a flipping genius,” James grinned, “I bet you could do anything from here,”
“It’s not that hard – the Ministry’s only been online for like a year anyway, they haven’t got the hang of security yet,”
“You should teach me how to hack then I could be one of those contract workers employed to improve security.”
“You don’t have the patience, okay... your dad’s got a lot of emails from a Mr Ronald Weasley,” I said scrolling down the page.
“What do they say?”
“We can’t read them or it’ll mark them as unread and he’ll know someone’s been in his account. Probably not very interesting anyway,”
“My dad’s plenty interesting,”
“I speak as someone who’s read far too many of my father’s emails. Right – maybe if we make an enquiry?”
“Can’t you just sense your way to the right page?”
“James,” I muttered, rolling my eyes at the ceiling of his bedroom, “I can sense magic, emotions and memories – the internet is cold and emotionless. I can’t sense magic through a screen,”
“All right, keep your crazy on Cassie – I’m only trying to help,” James said, holding up his hands and sighing. He stuck his head in my personal space again, peering at the web page curiously, “you’d have thought it was more exciting, wouldn’t you?”
“Life’s like that,” I sighed, my mouse hovering over the ‘enquires’ section.
“If you’re talking about yourself...” I began (blushing, naturally), “then you’re sadly lacking in observation skills,”
“It’s funny; you’re less embarrassed and blushy when you’re concentrating on something,”
“You’re no less annoying,”
“See!” James said, pointing at me triumphantly, “See! You’re all come-backy and, well, not like yourself,” I blushed scarlet, dragging myself away from the screen for a second in attempt to recover my apparently new found composure with an eyebrow raise. My eyebrows squirmed a little instead, before retreating down my face as if trying to hide my eyes and the fantastic magenta that was currently winning the battle for dominance over my face, “not that I think you should be less like yourself, or maybe you’re being more like yourself? I don’t know,” James continued, rambling on as he tilted his head and watched my skin change colour.
I’m like a flaming mood ring.
“We can talk about my questionable identity in a minute,” I said, turning back to the screen, “Oh, crud, time out. Oh, crap, it’s registered my enquiry.... bugger,” I muttered closing down the site very quickly and shutting down James’s laptop, “so I messed that up,”
“Are we going to Azkaban?” James suggested. Sad thing was, he looked sort of excited by the idea.
“No, it just means that his accounts going to be on top alert for awhile. Probably put in extra security measures,”
“But we go back to school tomorrow!” James said, “You can’t do it at Hogwarts?”
“No,” I said slowly, “well, never mind,” I passed James’s laptop over to him and picked up my own laptop bag. It seemed more logical to attempt the hacking on James’s laptop considering James had told me – much later than it was useful – that his dad sometimes borrowed his laptop.
“What are we going to do now?” James asked, blinking at me stupidly.
“Nothing,” I shrugged, shoving my hands into my pockets and finding myself a lot glummer than I could have expected, “dead end,”
“Are you for real?” James demanded, “Are you actually crazy?”
“Well, you’ve been saying it for five years Potter. It’s a bit late to ask me about it now,” I said, ignoring the fact that my face was burning (when wasn’t it?) and shifting the weight of my laptop bag on my shoulder.
“Cassie, your names been changed, your memories been changed, god knows where your mother is – do you just not care?”
“Of course I care! Did you think this was going to be a little adventure like your parents? We’re kids, James, we can’t solve mysteries! Not when there’s no clues and no leads and I can’t even remember anything. No one’s going to tell me anything! I’ll just have to wait till someone tries to stick a knife in me and then maybe it will all make sense.”
“You’re an adult tomorrow,” James said, half dropping his poor poor laptop on the floor and pulling out another battered book on amnesia. He lay back on his bed, propped himself up on his pillows and opened the book to about half way, “good luck with your driving test, I’ll be around about seven with the others,”
“Fine,” I said, feeling irrationally angry (it seemed James was good at achieving that these days).
“Let yourself out,”
Merlin, what a spoilt brat.
“Cassie,” Harry Potter said, stopping me as I made for the door, “we’re all looking forwards to later,”
“Least we could do,” I smiled politely.
“And sorry we haven’t got very far with exploring you’re, well... power – I’ve been doing some research, and maybe if you’re back over the Christmas holidays..?”
Hopefully we’d have moved house by then – a wonderful way to both avoid James and to get out of a house I really did loath. Far too sparse emotionally, but maybe by the Christmas holidays dad might have been able to provide a layer of memories thick enough to cover the newness of it all.
“Thank you, and sorry for breaking into your back garden – I should really learn not be so curious,”
“Curiosity is not a sin," he said, "but we should exercise caution with our curiosity,"
I stared at him for a long moment, sort of baffled by the moment. I knew that this was Harry Potter, who had essentially saved the world from the most notorious super villain but it was hard to associate that hero with a man that I saw as an irritating kid in my year’s father, and even harder to link those two different Harry Potter’s to the one who’d just spouted something nothing short or wise.
“That’s not erm, an original Harry,” he said awkwardly, “its Dumbledore’s – he was always saying... stuff like that,”
That was better.
“Thanks,” I said, nodding, before letting myself out of the Potter’s front door with a courteous goodbye. I’d never have thought, before this summer, that I’d be letting myself in and out of the Potter’s house whenever I saw fit.
“You passed you’re driving test?” Dad asked for the second time, his eyes wider than what was complimentary, “without magic and everything?”
“Yeah,” I said, walking into the kitchen and frowning around the room, “of course I didn’t really pass considering you faked papers saying I took my theory test and I’m not even old enough to hold a driving licence yet, but yeah – I passed,”
“Oh, wow,” it was quite clear that dad really thought he’d have to march down and confound the man to ensure that I’d actually, genuinely, got a driving licence, “well you can pop down to the shop then! Burgers, some wine – oh, wait, you’re not old enough to buy alcohol yet are you? Where’s your passport?”
I don’t know why I was surprised when after a few minutes of rummaging he handed me my passport with a different date of birth, one where I was actually nineteen tomorrow rather than seventeen – but it still made me stop and consider yet again how many rules my dad was okay with breaking. I had James’s voice in the back of my mind noting down these stupid little details about breaking the law.
Still, everyone did that sort of thing. Maybe they didn’t go as far as forging and changing legal documents – but then again, they probably did if they were rich enough – but people borrowed fake ID’s and things all the time. No one was getting hurt by these little violations of that law, and I wouldn’t have thought about it for a second if it wasn’t for this whole memory changing business screwing everything up.
“Get anything your friends might like,” He continued, ignorant to the torrent of thoughts running around my heads, “and anything the Potter’s might like oh and, Cassie? If there’s anything you want – get that too,”
I shook my head at him, twirled the keys around my fingers distractedly and headed back out to my car. Despite what the deluded bloke said, I was definitely not safe to drive a car. It was more than a little worrying to peel the L plates off from my cars oh-so-shiny-surface and throw them onto the back seat.
Nervously climbing in, I noted how strange it was not to have another presence in the car. At least now there’d be no one around to judge my parking, apart from other more experienced drivers who’d probably obtained a licence in a more legal fashion, and what did they know anyway?
Dad was nervous because we were throwing a house warming/barbeque/pool party. The nerves were unnecessary considering we had virtually no guests – only the Potters, Leanne and Luke. It was also probably quite unnecessary to send me to the shop to buy more food, considering the amount of food there was in the house, but I wasn’t going to object.
I pulled out my phone, out of habit more than anything; after I’d parked rather questionably in the middle of two bays (parking is hard) and found the normal message from Leanne flashing at the top of my screen. I’m coming in my bikini, be warned – I’m not wasting the last of my tan.
I glance upwards at the sky, taking in the large quantities of black cloud and decided against pointing it out to her. She almost definitely knew exactly what the weather was like, that was just Leanne for you.
Do you want anything from the shop? I texted back, wondering into the muggle supermarket and meandering up the fruit and veg aisle with little interest – I briefly considered buying strawberries but decided, although everyone likes them in theory, they’re too much effort to really be enjoyable. The supermarket had a comfortable aura of people being in a half rush, woman finding pleasure in deliberating over tomatoes and the occasional bitter overtone of stressed parent and screeching baby. It was nice though, to be around somewhere with a lot more texture – the Potters house was full of happy memories and fluffy family love (eurgh) and my house was just plain empty. The supermarket was definitely a nice change.
Muggle Pringles and coke. Leanne returned. I replied asking her to ask her brother if he wanted anything. I suspected what he wanted was not to be dragged along, not that I blamed him, but Leanne could be very forceful when she chose to be.
I gritted my teeth, in the interest of not being rude, and sent the same message to James.
He didn’t answer until I was already at the checkout.
I want you to get a new attitude. And some strawberry laces. And Vodka.
I rolled my eyes but doubled back quickly to add two packets of strawberry laces to my shopping, ignore the mention of all things vodka related. James Potter had a lot to answer for.
“You passed? Are you serious? You? You can drive?” James demanded, walking through my kitchen deliberately much to the absolute shock and delight of Leanne who was probably by now planning our wedding and an elaborate plan in which she will become popular. Sometimes I think Leanne should accept that neither of us ever will be popular (nor would I want to be).
“Yes, James,” I said with an eye roll, “and here are your bloody strawberry laces,”
“What about the other things I asked for?”
“Forget it Potter,” I said lightly, flushing slightly mainly because Leanne’s hot twin was milling about look simultaneously bored, impressed and flaming gorgeous. Ah, Luke. Of course he was a first class arse of the most distinguished degree, but that didn’t stop me from looking. Or blushing whenever he walked into the room – stupid skin.
“Well then,” James said, smirking stupidly, “let’s get this raving party on the road,”
I rolled my eyes and wondered why the hell my dad had to have insisted that we throw a bleeding party. I was partially convinced that he still suddenly wanted to be a good father after being essentially negligent (and negligible too for all the time I saw him) this summer. Still, throwing a party was a little bit too far in the other direction for me.
My dad was currently outside chatting to the Potters as he barbequed fancy sausages. I supposed that he did have slightly more in common with the Potters the day he did with most of society – given they occasionally appeared next to each other in ‘richest UK wizards’, ‘most famous UK wizards’ and, quite unfortunately, ‘hottest UK wizards.’ He wasn’t drunk this time though. Yet.
“Where’s Lily and Albus and that?” I asked awkwardly. There was nothing to combat the awkwardness of a supposed it ‘party’ where there were only about four people in attendance, especially when you’re supposed to be the host.
“Albus and Rose went to explore,” James said, still smirking at me like an idiot – I’d forgotten how much he enjoyed making me awkward – “and Lily’s sat outside sulking and texting her boyfriend, don’t worry – they don’t know she’s here,”
I nodded. Sometimes I thought I wouldn’t care if everyone found out Robert Banks was my father. At least everyone would think I was more interesting then.
“I think this is the best house so far,” Leanne grinned, hooking her arm through mine and dragging me outside. James and Luke were left in my kitchen and it suddenly struck me that Luke was one of those people who would have been involved in the ostracising of James Potter, “imagine if you had like... a house party?” I found an unexplainable desire to save him from being left alone in a room with one of the people who’d ditched him, but then reminded myself that Potter was an idiot.
I ignored that as we stepped out into the garden, James and Luke following in silence behind us. It wasn’t exactly a warm summer’s day anymore – that ship had been and gone, but it seemed Leanne had kept to her promise of a bikini because I could see it poking out of her top. I had been pressured into putting my swimming costume on (no way was I wearing a bikini when it was this cold) but had no intention of swimming what so ever.
“Cassie, burger?” Dad called over, “Leanne, Luke, James? Who wants food?”
“What sort of question is that, Mr B?” Leanne grinned, helping herself to a plate and heading over to collect her burger.
“Look,” I hissed to James before he went and joined the queue – not that I blamed him, the burgers smelt lush – “I’ve been researching the ministry security, and I think as long as I’m within so many feet of your Dad then I should be able to access his account without being arrested or whatever,”
“But at Hogwarts you’re not going to be within some many feet..?”
“Well no, but right now I am. At some point I’m going to sneak off and then -”
“What happened to dead end?”
“I’m too curious,” I said, before slipping past him and joining the line. I wasn’t going to say no to a lamb and mint sausage – even if my life was in an extreme state of crisis.
“Cassie, come on!” Leanne yelled from the pool where she was treading water to stop herself from freezing to death. Rose, Albus and Lily were sat at one end of the pool with the feet dangling into the water as they talked about something or other, probably how they were fed up and wanted to go home. My dad wasn’t paying the slightest bit of attention to what any of us were doing as he talked parents and business to Harry and Ginny Potter, “it’s lovely!”
“You’re shivering,” Luke commented dryly, eventually taking a seat next to Rose and Lily and preceding to begin his usual flirting routine. Leanne and I had seen it so many times we could probably recite it word from word.
“Not scared are you, Cassie?” James suggested, grinning
“James?” Leanne pouted, jutting out her lip and grinning, “one of you has to join me,”
“Well, Cassie’s got her costume on,” James shrugged, “Seems like the obvious choice,”
“Not happening,” I said.
“Scared, Cassie?” James asked, beginning to start a stupid routine of standing a little too close to the edge and nearly, but not quite, falling off. Leanne, looking slightly blue, was laughing which provided enough encouragement for him to continue doing it, “scaredy Cass!” James continued.
So I pushed him mid ‘oh no I’m going to fall in wobble’ sending him flying forward and belly flopping into pool with the loudest crash I’d ever heard.
The whole garden went silent for a second as everyone looked over to James, now standing up and spluttering stupidly in the pool. Rose began to clap, followed suit by Lily and Albus. Luke, too, upon realising his company was doing so started clapping looking unimpressed and even more bored than ever. Leanne was almost doubled over with laughing.
Ginny and Harry wondered over, looking at the son with amusement.
James pulled himself out the pool his wet clothes sticking to his skin and his hair plastered all over his face. I was blushing a lot at this point – partially because I’d sort of lost my temper and pushed him and partially because at this point James might as well have been topless (the white t-shirt had been a great idea on his part) and my face is controlled by a thirteen year old girl who finds this sort of thing blush-worthy.
“Was he being an idiot, Cassie?” Ginny asked, making a point of ruffling up her son’s sodden hair with a patronising smile.
“Yeah, he was,” Leanne said quickly when I didn’t answer.
“Well, I’m not drying you off then,” Ginny said, taping the pocket that her wand was sticking out of with a sassy grin.
“Mum,” James complained.
“Cassie, why don’t you get James some towels?” My dad suggested.
“Mum, come ooonnn,” James whined. Ginny grinned and shook her head, “fine then,” James said, suddenly turning around and wrapping his soaking arms around her mum. She cringed away from his wet clothes for a minute, Harry and Al laughing in the background (I think Lily was still texting her boyfriend), before Ginny opted for the bear-hug-method.
When James finally released her with a grin, she just dried herself with her wand and said, “nice try,”
It was such a nice family moment that I was caught up for a moment watching it. I didn’t like when mothers were perfect like Ginny was.
“Come on then Cassie,” James said with an eye roll throwing a wet arm around my shoulders which I cringed away from and blushed stupidly. My shoulders were wet now, “towels,”
“Fine,” I said, trying not to smile as I led him up to the house. I grabbed a set of towels from one of the ground floor bathrooms and threw it in his direction before grabbing my laptop from the side and starting it up as quickly as possible. James followed me into the kitchen and watched as I went through the same motions as earlier and, after only five minutes this time, wound up inside the ministry system under his dad’s name.
“I was thinking,” James said, his voice low, “Dad might have already done the search under his account... like, he obviously researched into the whole thing so maybe... if you got access to his history or?”
“That’s... really smart,” I said slowly, staring at him for a second in disbelief before kicking back into gear and searching for his ‘enquiry history’
“Yeah well we’re not all hufflepuffs,”
“Shut up a minute,” I said staring at the screen in front of me at the results of the enquiry that were now glaring at me from the screen. James noticed my silent and leaned forwards too, both of us now so close to the screen that our noses were practically touching.
“Protection,” James said slowly, “recipient in mortal danger... Sebastian Croaker,”
“What are you two doing in here?” My dad’s voice asked from the doorway. I slammed down the lid of the laptop and both of us jerked away from the laptop and each other. He raised his eyebrows at us for a second and glanced between the two of us. I was Gryffindor red. I suspected, at the assumption my dad appeared to have made about what we were doing, James had turned a sickly yellow colour. At least we were currently showing house unity and what not, even if this wasn’t my finest sleuthing moment.
“Nothing,” I said hastily. It would be much easier if he did think he’d walked in on a moment between James and me than if he thought I’d been illegally hacking into the ministry computer system to find out that I was in mortal danger, “we’ll be outside in a sec,” I added, “just getting James a drink,”
“Okay, Cas,” Dad said, raising his eyebrows at James again before disappearing out the door and leaving us alone again.
James swore appreciatively.
“Mortal danger?” He questioned.
“I need to log out quickly,” I said, lifting up the lid of my laptop and exiting the ministry system – making a note to go through and delete my history, before filling it up again by clicking through a bunch of my favourite links until no one would really know that I’d deleted my history in the first place.
“So your dad isn’t just paranoid?”
“Evidently,” I said, grabbing James a can of coke out of the drinks fridges and handing it to him.
“Are you going to react to that at any point?” James asked, taking the coke without opening it – still staring at me as if I was about to break down and cry in a puddle on the floor.
“Couple of hours, maybe,” I said sarcastically with added blush, before biting my lip and getting myself a coke, “we should go, erm, join the party,”
“Are you okay?” James asked seriously.
“Yes,” I said pointedly, but I could feel my eyes prickling up now, “didn’t I say that we weren’t going to talk about feelings and stuff when it came to this? Colleagues, right?”
“Whatever,” James said, waving this away, “are you all right?”
“Well no, but.... well, I’m not going to die now – am I? At least there’s a reason that my brain has been messed about with. I’m not crazy for no reason,”
“You’re not crazy at all,” James said, opening his can of coke with a ‘hiss’ before wondering out of my kitchen with half the household’s towels wrapped around his dripping form. What an annoying individual.
“You won’t be saying that tomorrow,” I said with a shrug, pushing past him to go get another burger. I needed it. With extra ketchup for comfort.
“What happens tomorrow?” James called after me.
“Back to school,” I called back.
“And you turn seventeen!” My dad called, “an adult! To cassie!” He said, holding up his glass of wine woozily and holding it up to the sky, “because you can’t have birthday parties on September 1st!”
“Cheers,” James said, appearing behind me having somehow acquired a bottle of beer, “and happy birthday you mental patient,”
It’s official. I hate him.
First off, as Harry says "Curiosity is not a sin.... But we should exercise caution with our curiosity." Belongs to Dumbledore/JK Rowling and can be found in GOF, chapter 30, page 520 of the UK edition :)
An update? Wow. Somebody I'd never talked to before on the forums asked me whether there would be an update soon and I got really excited and this chapter was born. Yup, born. The delivery took a little longer than I expected due to this wonderful thing called NANOWRIMO (I'm officially a winner now) but, anyway, here's your new chapter. Enjoy! Hopefully it won't be so long next time :(