Chapter 12 : Last Flowers
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Cassandra closed the thick volume with a loud thud, gaining some dirty looks from the wizards sitting beside her.
It was the fifth book about werewolves she had managed to read that afternoon. The fifth. And she had yet to find something even remotely useful.
The so-called werewolves researchers kept going on about the dangers of being around such filthy creatures, almost without considering other, more interesting elements about werewolves lives. How were the packs organized? How did lycanthropy affect wizards' magical powers? And Muggles? Was there a possibility for a Muggle to survive a werewolf attack? Those were only some of the questions that were left unanswered.
Cassandra sighed heavily, massaging her temples with the top of her fingers. She should have expected this. Sirius had warned her about the disinformation showed by those books. Still, it was appalling that in the biggest magical library in Great Britain she couldn't find a decent book about werewolves. It was a pity, really. Cassandra had been so excited when Sirius had told her about the magical library: having the possibility to read about that odd culture without having to spend hundreds of pounds or galleons was the greatest gift the girl could wish for. Visiting the library was necessary for their future plans too: after the encounter with Severus Snape, both the ex-soldier and the Grim knew that they had to move out of their flat as soon as possible, therefore the girl needed to gather as much information about the wizarding world as she could.
They didn't know exactly where to go: Cassandra wanted to go and search for her father, but Sirius would rather check on Harry first. The point was, London wasn't safe anymore.
Padfoot had explained the girl about the troubled relationship the Marauders had endured with the Slytherin git since their first years at Hogwarst... the pranks, the hexes and cruel words that had been sent from both parts; the jealously James had felt for Lily, the hatred Severus had showed towards Prongs when the bespectacled boy had finally won over the redhead's heart... Sirius knew that most of the times the Marauders had exaggerated towards the git, but Snape shared his good deal of responsibility too. He had always answered to their relatively innocent pranks with ferocity, and was often the one to cause the commotion in the first place.
Only once had Severus been unable to fight back, and it had been completely Sirius' fault: the grey-eyed boy had let his anger and frustration towards Snivellius be channeled through the Grim' strength, and the dog had decided to have some fun with the Slytherin student. The result could have been disastrous, since Padfoot had all but revealed to Snape the way to enter the place where her father transformed. Fortunately, nothing irreparable had happened, but that "prank" had been the last straw for Snape: since that fateful full moon he had never stopped taunting the Marauders, not by pulling pranks as usual, but by hurting them and, even worse, the people they loved.
He had managed to convince Sirius' brother to join the Death Eaters. He had almost caused Lily to lose her still unborn child... And he had managed to take Cassandra away from her Dad.
Severus Snape had underestimated the little girl's strength and power. He had probably hoped that a couple of nights lost in the woods would have taken her innocent soul away, but Cassandra was a creature of the Earth, even though "artificial", and the forest had probably helped the child surviving until the Muggles had found her.
Unfortunately for Cassandra, being alive meant that Snape's revenge hadn't been completely successful. The chances were he was already planning a way to get to the girl and finish the work he had begun thirteen years before.
The girl got up from the large wooden table, quietly putting those unuseful books back into place and scanning the shelves for other potentially useful volumes.
How to make a wand in ten easy steps
Sirius felt responsible for what had happened because of the Prank, of course. And how couldn't he? He had done an incredibly stupid and reckless thing, that was true.
But what was worse? Acting stupidly because of a blinding rage or taking revenge by coldly hurting innocents?
What kind of man could have the heart of looking into the frightened eyes of a four-year-old child and abandoning her to her death?
What kind of man could hate so much a boy to be ready to hurt his pregnant girlfriend?
What kind of man could be so coward to condemn a young boy to his ruin instead of facing the boy's more intimidating older brother?
Cassandra didn't blame Sirius. Probably she was just blinded by her love and respect for the grey-eyed man, but she knew that she had felt the same way fifteen years before, when she had just been saved and her father was still furious at the dog animagus for his reckless behavior.
She remembered of looking at a dark-haired, distraught wizard sitting all alone in that big Hall with the enchanted ceiling.
She remembered of hearing him crying himself to sleep.
She remembered him launching into the most pointless fights, only to be hurt.
Only to be punished.
She remembered him looking at her with curiosity and wonder, not daring to speak to her.
And then, she remembered what anger could do to a person: she herself had almost destroyed her flat during a fit of rage.
The only thing she was a bit confused about was the reason of young Sirius' wrath, but the man had showed no intentions in revealing that detail to her and she hadn't pushed the subject.
Truth be told, that wasn't the only mystery regarding the escaped convict's life, and Cassandra wished he could trust her enough to tell her something more about his past. Differently from the young woman, however, Sirius seemed reluctant to open up with her, as if afraid that she could judge him or , even worse, being bored by his experiences.
He should know better than that...But then again, Sirius has spent half of his life in a jail. A little trust issue is perfectly understandable.
And trust wasn't the only issue he had, for sure. He had night terrors almost every night, even worse than Cassandra's ones. Most of the time the girl woke up at the sound of his heart-wrenching screams, and the two ended up sat on the floor in the dark, watching late shows on the TV and eating biscuits. He never told Cassandra about what the nightmares were about, but the girl somewhat suspected that they had something to do with that Azkaban place.
What if they tortured him? Like in those Medieval prisons...
Cassandra shuddered at the thought. She still remembered when, ten years before, she had been on a school trip to an ancient Castle and the guide had brought the class into the dungeons... Dark, cold, humid rooms filled with wooden tables, chains and various kinds of knives. They had looked even worse than the instruments she had seen, and "tested", during the war.
Lost in thoughts, Cassandra kept scanning the bookshelves until she finally found other three volumes of her interest.
Healing potions: major ingredients and their properties.
Living with the Nymphs.
Azkaban: the sea, the prison, the Dementors.
The girl was on her way back towards her table when a familiar voice stopped her on her tracks.
"Do you really think he is ready, Albus?"
Who is she ? Do you know her?
I don't know, Amal. Let me hear...
The wolf huffed annoyingly before sitting down and reinforce Cassandra's attention to that voice.
"He is a strong man, Minerva. He only needs something to live for, and I think that a job would be perfect for him. Moreover, spending some time with other people will do him good."
Minerva? She didn't know anybody with that name... And who was that Albus, anyway? Even his voice sounded familiar.
"I don't know... What about the memories? Hogwarst was probably the only place he considered home, but now... All his friends are dead, or proved to be traitors. His daughter is somewhere in London, living as a muggle and probably ignoring his existence. What if he is overwhelmed by the memories? What if he sinks even further into depression?"
"My dear Minerva, I swear, I have never seen you so insecure."
"it's just... Albus, you haven't seen him if not in your office. When he is alone or he is caught off guard he is... cold. Almost dead. He may have stopped drinking years ago, but he hasn't changed... When I told him to come and teach at Hogwarst he smiled and all, but he was off. Like if deep inside he didn't care. Teaching is not a goal for him anymore...Maybe if we found Cassandra..."
wait wait wait.
Cassandra? Come on, there will be thousands of Cassandras in the wizarding world. They aren't talking about me...
But, Human... they are talking about a man who lost all his friends... our father...
I know... But...
"Cassandra can't be found, Minerva. As Remus said, bringing her into our world would be probably a change for the worse. As he probably told you, when he saw her she was happy. I wanted to see the memory myself, Minerva. She was laughing and talking amiably with her companions. She has built herself a life in the muggle world, she travels, she has a good job and friends. You know my ideas about lycanthropy and werewolves rights, but let's be honest: if she comes into our world she will be immediately treated as an outcast, especially if her father's condition becomes public. Remus is too poor to allow her to live without working, and he won't be able to spend too much time with her if not during holidays. As much as these facts may seem unimportant, they may be an important issue in this situation, so actually it is best for her to keep ignoring her father's existence."
They were really talking about her.
That meant that her father had found her.
.. And abandoned her?
Cassandra felt tears filling her eyes as the world crumbled under her feet.
He had abandoned her.
The one she had called desperately every night before falling to sleep.
The one she had asked for help so many times during her difficult life, never receiving a response.
The one she had loved and trusted and looked up to without even remembering his face.
It was like replaying the meeting with the Colonel over and over again.
It was worse.
She felt the room spinning around her, she felt her legs give in to the weight of that information.
She could remember only one meal spent with other people during which she hadn't felt the deep desire to strangle someone. It had been two years before, when a small group of her comrades had invited her to celebrate a sort of delayed Christmas with her. She didn't know them well, but they were kind and funny and came from similar, equally troubled familiar backgrounds. She had wished to be assigned to their same mission, but of course it didn't happen.
As far as she knew, most of them had died during the first year of their mission.
Why did her father have to find her on that occasion?! He could have picked any other day of that year, and he would have found her broken!
Cassandra could feel Amal growling and huffing inside her head.
He... betrayed us.. OUR ALPHA ABANDONED US, BETRAYED US! US! FLESH OF HIS FLESH! HOW DARED HIM!
Anger started burning Cassandra's veins again, although less forcefully than the night before.
Amal... Please, calm down... we are not in our flat... Sirius isn't here... If we do something stupid...
WHAT? THAT MINERVA AND THAT ALBUS WILL FIND OUT. SO? OUR FATHER WILL FIND OUT WHAT HAD HAPPENED TO US. SO? HE DOESN'T CARE. NOBODY CARES.
...Sirius... Sirius cares. He has risked his life for us. And we have to help him... so stop.
OUR FATHER BETRAYED US, HUMAN!
NO, HE DIDN'T
Cassandra felt the wolf fall silent, and even she was a bit stunned by her own words.
He did... he did what he should have done years ago. I am not his daughter, and you neither. we were created using his DNA, and he was kind enough to give us the illusion of a human life for a couple of years. He did what he could. But we are not made for family. We are made to fight...
Her... Remus had loved her and cared for her as if she was a real child. He had fed her, given her clothes, sacrificed his own wolf for her.
He had suffered when she had disappeared, he had searched for her and found her.
Seeing that she looked happy he had let her be.
A robot, a useless scientific experiment like her, couldn't have asked for more. After all, she had been meant to be destroyed.
She was grateful for the years of happiness that kind teenage boy had given her, and she was going to thank him by returning him his best friend.
It was the least she could do, after having caused him so much pain.
The girl closed her eyes, imaging for a minute the moment of the reunion between the two marauders, and a small smile graced her scarred face. Remus would be happy, that was a certain thing. So happy that he would probably ask her to stay with him forever.
Yes, Remus Lupin was far too kind and generous not to offer shelter to a girl who shared half of her DNA with him. But it would be so unfair to him, having to care for her when he didn't owe her anything, especially after he had decided not to see her anymore.
Her presence would be only a dark cloud in a sunny day.
No, she couldn't do that to him. She couldn't stand to see his happy face screwed by her presence. In a corner of her mind Amal whimpered in anticipation, trying desperately to change her human's mind. But it was too late. Cassandra let her green eyes wander through the library, allowing her lungs to exhale a resigned breath.
The National Magical Library was a huge building developed on four floors. It was part of the London National Library, hidden to the eyes of curious Muggles behind an anonymous old bookshelf. It was a remarkable example of Gothic Architecture, with tall, pointed ceilings and immense windows adorned with coloured, moving images. The parts of the walls which weren't occupied by windows were covered by ancient-looking wooden bookshelves crammed with books and parchments. Further bookshelves divided each floor in twenty compartments, each one furnished with a long wooden desk and huge, comfortable chairs.
Every piece of furniture had been expertly carved with floral patterns and dangerous looking creatures, and the decorations had been covered in gold foil. Gold were also the huge chandeliers that hanged from the ceilings, as well as the windows frame. That precious metal, together with the numerous gems and precious stones that adorned walls and shelves and hanged from the chandeliers, reflected the shy light of London summer sun, filling the otherwise dark rooms with light.
There weren't stairs, but sort of floating, transparent-looking moving panels that slowly led the visitors up and down the building and allowed to easily access to the highest shelves without having to climb old wobbling stairs. The floor had been paved with huge white marble plates, mottled with golden and silver vains.
It was a fascinating sight, and Cassandra felt her heart break at the thought that soon enough she wouldn't be able to admire such beauty anymore.
Maybe I will come back from time to time. I won't be on missions forever, will I?
Amal was still silent, but Cassandra could sense her disappointment and fear.
Amal. Hope. When Cassandra had revealed her choice of names to Sirius he had smiled happily, convinced that such a name could only mean that the girl had finally decided to let go her past and concentrate on her future.
And he was right. Until now.
Amal meant Hope, that was true. But not hope in the future, not anymore.
Cassandra and her wolf didn't have a future. They were going to die on a foreign land, covered in blood and mud and sweat.
They were going to die fighting, as they were meant to do.
If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England.*
Those words were tattooed on the small of her back in tiny letters. She had always loved that poem by Rupert Brooks, even if she had never felt particularly patriotic: for a fifteen-year-old terrified girl, knowing that somehow a piece of her home, of her past, would survive even after her death was a quite comforting thought.
Maybe even the memory of her hopes could survive her death. Cassandra had experienced hope, even though only for a couple of days, and those had been the best days of her life. Maybe, naming her wolf like that, she would never forget them. Maybe, with that name she would be able to imprint in the soil around her dying body some of the joy she had felt.
Amal was crying.
Oh, my poor wolf. Don't waste your tears for this. Death... will be good. And light. And relaxing. You'll be able to roam free, and I'll be able to get some rest.
And, God, she needed to rest. She was tired of surviving, she was tired to fight for her useless, insignificant life. She was tired of the nightmares that haunted her nights, she was tired of the loneliness, the guilt, the pain.
She was tired of getting up every single time her heart got crushed by a cruel destiny.
She was going to died covered in the blood of her victims. She would go to Hell, but even the flaming jaws of the devil felt like a trip to the seaside. But then again, animals or things didn't have a Heaven or a Hell. There was just darkness waiting for them.
A last gift to the Pack... And then peace.
Lost in her own world of guilt and self-pity, Cassandra registered distractedly that those familiar voices hadn't stopped talking. The male voice, however, was different.
"Minerva, I don't think you understand the gravity of the situation."
"Severus, I don't think you understand. I don't... It doesn't matter if you saw her or not. Albus and Remus are right, as much as this hurts me to say: she has her life now, and we must respect that."
Cassandra's ears perked up at hearing that awful name.
Oh, not again! That guy is everywhere.
"Minerva, I am not interested in respecting the life of that.. creature, nor I am interested in revealing its location to Lupin.."
"Severus! She is NOT a creature! She is a person, a..."
"Oh, please. With all the due respect, your Gryffindor soul is blinding your judgement, Minerva. We all know how that thing was created. It is the result of a disgusting experiment designed by the Dark Lord himself. It has no soul, nor feelings. Its presence in the Muggle world is dangerous for everybody... What if its werewolf genes suddenly make their appearance? It is an unstable being, and you perfectly know that."
Cassandra felt her stomach clench. It has no soul... Even Snape had understood that.
Amal growled angrily, probably trying to emerge and attack the greasy git.
Quiet, Amal. He is right and you know it.
No, human! We are not soulless! We have feelings, we...
We believed to have a soul because the few years we spent with Remus let us believe that.
You are so blind, human... You'll lead us to our ruin.
We are ALREADY ruined! We were born ruined. Not even a kind man like Remus Lupin could save us.
The wolf snarled angrily between the tears, trying to break free, but Cassandra wouldn't have any of that. The girl wanted to listen to that enlightening conversation, and Amal's rambling wasn't helping.
"You... How dare you to speak like that! She is a human being, Severus! Really, sometimes I wonder why Albus still trusts you...You never ceased to sound like a Death Eater."
Minerva hissed those words like an angry cat, and Cassandra felt her heart warm up a bit despite herself. It felt good to know that another person in the world was kind enough to stand up for her despite her filthy nature.
"So little gratefulness for a man who wants to protect people from a monster... The thing is dangerous. It looks sweet and gentle in order to confuse its victims, but it will never cease to be a filthy, murderous beast. Not to mention that the people it is now associated with are just equally dangerous."
The last statement seemed to catch Minerva by surprise, while Cassandra simply felt dread descending like an icy blanket on her skin.
Oh, God. He knows. He bloody knows..
"What are you talking about?"
"I am talking about Sirius Black, Minerva. He is an unregistered animagus in the form of a black dog, and he was in the shop with the creature."
"How... How do you..."
"I've got my sources. The point is Black knows about the potential of the Kid A. I suppose he'll use it as a way to reach and harm the Potter brat. Not that I am concerned about the boy's safety, but I reckon this could be disastrous for all of us. As I said, the Kid A is unstable."
Cassandra was frozen.
Snape knew Sirius was with her.
Snape knew where she worked.
The ex-soldier immediately scrambled onto her feet, grabbing her satchel and bolting out of the library, her books forgotten.
Snape may have been right about her, but he was definitely delusional if he thought she would let an innocent man, Sirius, be deprived of his freedom again.
The time was up.
Their journey had to begin.
Sirius sat in the middle of the room, tired as hell but satisfied with his work.
He had managed to pack Cassandra's belongings in a small rucksack, thanks to a lot of concentration and a bit of wandless magic. It had been difficult and physically exhausting but it was necessary: Snivellius was a dangerous brat, and, now that he knew where the girl worked, it would be a matter of time before some other wizard would appear at the shop to take her away, probably with bad intentions.
Saying that Sirius wasn't calm was un understatement. He wasn't calm: He was restless and worried, especially now that Cassandra was away. Initially he had been reluctant to allow her to go to the library, but she really needed to make her researches, both to understand the magical world better and as a sort of coping system. Dogs, however, weren't allowed in the building, so Sirius had been left alone in the tiny flat, waiting for the girl to come back with a car or a train ticket.
A small source of relief from his brooding was knowing that soon enough he would be able to check on Harry. He had been thinking about his godson almost every second, replaying constantly in his mind the first time he had been able to see him again after all those years. What had the muggles done to lead his little Prongslet to leave Privet Drive in the middle of the night ? The thought that those foul people could hurt the poor child enraged the animagus deeply, but that wasn't the time to do anything rush. The chances were the muggles would soon receive a lesson, but he needed to know the full extent of their actions on Harry before inflicting his punishment. Not to mention that Remus would be incredibly disappointed not to be included in the revenge.
Oh, they were going to have so much fun.
Sirius smiled as he distractedly played with the straps of the rucksack: he was looking forward to finally having the pack reunited. He knew that Cassandra wasn't still ok with her birth, but he didn't doubt that the presence of her father would resolve her issues. Harry's presence would help too: being the youngest member of the pack, the kid would probably assume the role of a little brother or even a son to Cassandra, and taking care of him could be a good way to avoid gloomy thoughts.
Just as the animagus began to lose himself in the blissful dream of a happy family and a bright future, Cassandra burst open the entrance door, bolting inside the room and looking around frantically.
"Good. You packed. We need to go. Now."
Sirius automatically grabbed the leash and the collar, looking in confusion at the girl in front of him .
"What... what hap.."
"Questions later. Now we have to go"
"Did you get the car, or at least a train ticket? We agreed that we had to drive till the boundary with Scotland and then walk!"
Cassandra simply grabbed the rucksack looking at the surprisingly light object curiously.
"Are you sure you took everything? Oh, well. Don't worry about the car, I know what to do. Just transform and follow me."
Sirius complied, still dumbfounded and increasingly worried.
What had happened? Where were they going?
Cassandra ignored the black dog's questioning look and grabbed the leash, bolting down the stairs while inwardly thanking the animagus for having healed her leg. Walking slowly with a crutch would have been their doom.
They ran, ran, ran. Cassandra's heart was suffering, her lungs were burning, but she was far too worried to notice.
Those onyx eyes were everywhere, looking at her, spying on her. Everywhere, black robes twirled in the air and pale hands reached to grab her arms and take Sirius away from her.
No, she couldn't have that.
Another little sacrifice was due. It was nothing, really. She had done that before.
They ran, and ran, and ran. Padfoot was panting, his tongue dangling from the side of his mouth. His paws hurt and he felt so tired, but he never stopped, because if Cassandra was worried there had to be a reason.
Finally, the couple came to a stop in front of a door Sirius didn't recognize. Cassandra, panting and holding her side after the long run, lifted her right arm and banged loudly on the door.
"MR. THOMPSON! OPEN THIS DAMN DOOR!"
Remus was sitting on his shabby bed in his shabby bedroom, his shabby trunk packed beside him.
He was ready to go to Hogwarst.
Ah. Ah. Ah. Really funny.
Of course he wasn't.
After that strange dream a couple of nights before, the werewolf hadn't been able to sleep. Hell, he hadn't been able to think.
Moony had been awfully enraged after Black's disappearance from Remus' mind, and the green-eyed wizard was now having a hard time keeping the wolf in his cage.
He couldn't let him free. He was still tempted to, because the beast seemed to know something about Cassandra's tragic end his human senses couldn't capture, but he couldn't.
Albus had pleaded not to give in to the beast, because that would endanger his position as a teacher.
Remus didn't care about being a professor anymore, so losing the job wouldn't have been a great deal. What worried Remus to no end was the thought of hurting the students, which was possible, considering that the wolf had been imprisoned for many years and was probably unstable. Moony would have to wait for at least a year, if not more.
And, of course, the wolf didn't particularly appreciate the idea.
He kept haunting Remus' mind with images of his daughter covered in blood and mud, or even with loud cacophonies of voices and sounds.
He hated those voices. He supposed they were little snapshots of his Pack's lives, and that meant that he was substantially overhearing Sirius Black's conversations, maybe even something from Harry's mind, but not much: the kid was safe under the Headmaster's care, and he was probably having fun, he would have had no need to call for his Alpha.
Sirius Black was calling him, though.
How dared him!
He had betrayed Lily and James. He had killed them. And he expected Remus to help him!
Sorry is not your word to say.
We'll find him Sirius, we'll find the rat.
He kept replaying that voice over and over again. It sounded so familiar, but yet it held a different undertone...
That voice was talking to Sirius.
He was a murderer.
He could feel the wolf fidget impatiently.
Could he be...
No. The wolf was delusional. James had chosen Sirius as a Secret Keeper. Sirius had betrayed James. James was dead.
Sighing heavily, the werewolf got up from the bed, slowly making his way towards the kitchen. A small glass of firewhisky couldn't hurt anybody, could it?
He knew he shouldn't. He had stopped drinking years before, after he had blacked out for almost three days.
He observed as the amber liquid poured into the glass, lazily reflecting the light of a dying day.
He remembered his first shot.
It had been offered him by the traitor.
Take this, it'll help you forget.
It had been such a blissful feeling. Forgetting the guilt, the pain, the worry.
For a night he had been the good old Remus, ex Hogwarst student having fun with his friends.
That feeling never returned, not the second, nor the third, nor the twentieth time the werewolf got drunk.
Slowly, as if careful not to get burned, the thirty-year-old man closed his hand around the now full glass, gripping it tightly.
Cassandra hated when S... The traitor got drunk. The smell of alcohol made her sneeze.
She would be disgusted by him if he started drinking again.
But yet, Cassandra was dead.
The dying light suddenly reflected on a square object, catching immediately Remus' attention.
He walked towards the now shimmering object, the glass of firewishkey still safely held in his hand.
Little Cassandra was laughing and grinning like only she could do. Her plump cheeks were flushed, and her bright, ice-green eyes shimmered in the sunlight of a happy sunny day. Her blond locks were bouncing wildly on her shoulders as she waved excitedly to the camera, a crown of little flowers dangling on the side of her head.
She was held tightly by a young man, with equally green eyes and slightly darker hair. He looked tired and his face was covered in scars, but his smile was just as bright as the one of the toddler in his arms. Occasionally he would stop waving his free arm in order to cover Cassandra with kisses, making her giggle even harder.
"I am sorry... I am so sorry..."
The glass slipped on the floor, shattering into thousands of little, sharp pieces.
"I AM SORRY"
With a heart wrenching, desperate cry, Remus fell on the broken glass, clutching the picture tightly to his chest.
He rocked back and forth, just like when Cassandra was a toddler and couldn't sleep.
A wave of cinnamon, orange and vanilla invaded his nostrils, winning over the sharp smell of smoke.
He knew that scent, but this time smelling it didn't help him to calm down.
It was an illusion, an allucination.
The wolf was still playing with his mind.
The pain, oh God, the pain. It ripped his heart apart, tearing the flesh, burning in his veins.
He wanted his Cassandra, his daughter. But he was alone.
There was so much silence in the cottage. Too much.
The animals were scared by the wolf, the trees had already begun to lose their leaves.
He couldn't stay there. Not without Cassandra.
He looked at the picture again and blinked.
Cassandra wasn't smiling anymore. She was tall, and thin, and haunted.
She was wearing a green uniform.
There was a strange symbol on her shoulder.
Two swords crossed behind a crowned lion.
The similarity with the Gryffindor symbol was almost confusing, but Remus knew that image had nothing to do with magic.
He blinked again, and little Cassandra was back there, waving and smiling with no care in the world.
A sudden thought crossed the werewolf mind, and the man quickly got up from the floor, ignoring the painful gashes which now covered his legs and knees.
He carefully removed the picture from its frame, folding it and placing it inside the pocket of his jacket. He then walked quickly into a room he had decided not to enter ever again.
It was darker and dustier than the last time he had been there, but apart from that, nothing had changed: the boxes were still there, piled with an almost reverent care by a young father who still hoped to save his little daughter. The dim ray of light that came from the window danced in the dust-filled atmosphere, giving the room an almost ghostly appearance.
In a corner, isolated from the rest, a tiny wooden bed lied covered in dust. It still had Cassandra's favourite blankets on, their colorful pattern worn out by the time. Four objects had been carefully placed on the white pillow: a carillon, a stuffed stag, a stuffed wolf, a stuffed dog.
Remus didn't want to disturb the innocence which still radiated from that small temple if his past happiness, but a voice in his mind told him that was the only way to let go. He bent down and gathered the wolf and the stag with trembling hands, pointedly ignoring the dog. He turned on the carillon, shivering as the sweet notes of the lullaby started playing softly.
He could almost see his little angel sighing happily and drifting to a dreamless, refreshing sleep.
He stood there, listening to the song, not even daring to sit on the little sanctuary. When the carillon stopped, Remus scanned through the boxes, finally finding the object of his interest.
There it was: the flower crown, dusty and dried and fragile.
He held it with both of his hands, took a deep breath and disappeared.
*These lines were taken from Rupert Brooks' poetry The Soldier.
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