Chapter 3 : The Return to the Castle
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At the moment, she was angry with her son because he had been wasting time all morning. And now, when she wanted to apparate to King’s Cross- more than an hour earlier than the train would actually leave the station- he still wasn’t ready.
“It doesn’t matter if you think it’s too early to get up! If you are not ready in 5 minutes, I will personally drag you to the platform, with clothes on or not”, she shouted up the stairs, her voice magically enhanced. She did not like to be late.
The rest of the Malfoy family didn’t dare to speak. They had gathered in the entrance hall a while ago, ready to leave.
Knowing that they wouldn’t be leaving anytime soon, Cassiopeia sat down on her trunk and looked dreamily out of a transom window. The day was way too beautiful to go back to school, she thought, blinking against the bright light of the morning sun.
The daylight poured into the foyer, lighting up the shining marble with a golden glow. Once, it had been a very dark room in spite of the white stone- but now it seemed impressive, and even peaceful.
No one would have believed how much Mrs Malfoy had actually renewed the manor before she had made it her home, and so it was not surprising that nothing in the house would remind of its rather dark past.
What she had left untouched, however, was its old charm, and so the most of the furniture was very ancient, historical in fact.
The first thing she had removed were the paintings of her husband’s ancestors in the hall, as they had always screeched racist tirades of hatred at anyone walking past, and Mrs Malfoy would neither have her children nor guests listening to it. She was ashamed of this part of history and tried to protect her children from it as much as possible.
The portraits had been buried in a faraway corner in the attic of Malfoy Manor, where no one would ever look for them.
Cassiopeia was abruptly brought back to the presence as her elder brother rumbled down the staircase, dragging his enormous trunk behind him. As he reached the bottom of the stairs, he innocently beamed at his family and announced: “Don’t worry everyone, I’m here already. Good to go.”
Before his mother could scold him any longer- “How dare you say already!” - Mr Malfoy took pity on his son, gripped him by the outstretched arm and disapparated with him quickly.
After they had vanished, Mrs Malfoy took a deep breath and tried to collect herself. Cassiopeia knew by experience that her mother was nervous. Almost everyone that mattered would be at the station today, and she, Mrs Astoria Malfoy nee Greengrass, had an enormous pressure lasting on her shoulders.
Not only as a former Slytherin, but as a Slytherin who had refused to force outdated views on her children or to bring them up in the “traditional” way, she was frowned upon by not only the former Gryffindor, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff students, but the students of her own house as well.
It was solely the social status and wealth of her husband’s family- and to some, the purity of her blood, even in this age- that made her a reputable member of the wizarding society.
She herself wouldn’t have cared at all, for she had her husband and her children, whom she loved dearly and that, she thought, was satisfactory enough. But she knew how much it mattered to Mr Malfoy, even though he didn’t admit it, and for his sake she tried her best to fit in.
“Shall we?”, she asked gently, looking at her daughter with her big, innocent doe eyes. Cassiopeia took her mother’s arm and smiled at her encouragingly. She noticed once more how young her mother looked. Even though she knew that Astoria Malfoy had passed forty several years ago, she still seemed like a young girl.
“Astoria, how pleasant to meet you”, the smug, dark haired witch standing next to Mr Malfoy chirped with an insincerely sweet voice as she laid eyes on Mrs Malfoy. “Draco and I have just now talked about our old days…”
Protectively Mrs Malfoy’s eyes fell on the manicured hand clawing in her husband’s shoulder, before she returned the dishonest smile. “Oh, Pansy, I’m thrilled to see you, too. Yes, I would have loved to take part in your adventures as well, but sadly I am so much younger than you. My favourite story has to be the one where Draco took you to the Yule Ball, but hardly even looked at you.”
The friendliness of Pansy Flint, nee Parkinson, was seemingly getting more forced with every word Mrs Malfoy said, and she swiftly removed her fingers from Mr Malfoy’s arm. “Well”, she answered brusquely, “As much I would love to chat, I just have spotted the Burkes. I’m afraid I have to say hello.”
After a few steps she turned around. “Oh, Draco”, she added, “Send your parents my best regards.”
Pleased with herself, Astoria watched the accurately trimmed bob of the unpleasant witch disappear in the crowd, before she turned to her husband. “Why does she send regards to your parents?”, she asked him, raising one eyebrow.
But she knew quite well herself why Mrs Flint had done it. Her in-laws didn’t like Mrs Malfoy’s modern views at all, and had always hoped for their son to marry the more traditional Miss Parkinson instead. And now, Mrs Flint would take any opportunity to remind her of that.
“Oh, Astoria, my love, I don’t even want to know”, Mr Malfoy said warmly, smiling down on her and putting his arm around her waist. “Besides, you know as well as I do that I’m not exactly on speaking terms with my parents.”
Yes, Mrs Malfoy thought and returned his smile brightly. He had chosen her, Astoria Greengrass, and neither Pansy nor his parents. Her.
Cassiopeia cleared her throat to remind her parents of her existence. “I’ve seen a couple of friends”, she lied. “Would it be alright if I leave?”
Mrs Malfoy stroked Cassiopeia’s fair hair lovingly as she embraced her daughter. “Farewell, darling”, she whispered in her ear, “And don’t forget to write me after you’ve arrived. I wish you a lot of fun this year.”
Her father pulled her into his arms as well. “I miss you already princess. You make me very proud, don’t forget that.”
When she beamed up at him, tears stung in her eyes. She knew that she would miss her parents very much.
“There you are, I’ve been looking for you”, Cassiopeia exclaimed as she saw her brother Scorpius, who was just about to enter a compartment that was already filled with noisy Gryffindors.
As his sister appeared, he shut the door quickly, so that his friends couldn’t hear everything they said. They were launched on the worn out seats of the Hogwarts Express, passing around sweets they had brought for the journey. Wherever they had found some space, owl cages had been placed, and on one girl’s lap a black cat had curled up into a ball.
In school, it had not always been easy for Scorpius because of his family’s rather dark heritage and past. Some people associated him with it even after all this time. His fellow housemates only teased him jokingly, but the topic was his Achilles Heel, still.
“What’s up?”, he asked tensely, trying not to mind the people watching them through the glass door. Most of the time, he avoided his sister when they were in school. The less he was tied to the Slytherin house, the better, he thought.
Glancing in the already cramped compartment nervously, Cassiopeia noticed with relieve that Albus wasn’t sitting in it, although she recognised several family members of his. Because they were all staring right at her, she felt herself stiffen. I am not welcome here, she thought to herself.
“Well, I don’t want to bother you for long”, she started, twirling her hair between her fingers as she spoke. All the suspicious eyes lasting on her made her quite nervous. “But earlier I couldn’t but notice that you didn’t say goodbye to mother and father.”
When it was clear that he wasn’t going to say anything, she continued courageously: “While I can only guess why you didn’t, none of the possibilities seem very flattering. You know, even though you may be ashamed of your family, you can’t conceal the fact that we are your family.”
Scorpius was still staring at his toes when Cassiopeia heard a familiar voice asking from behind her back cheerily: “Is there a problem?” With agitation, she spun around.
“Everything is fine”, she spit out, emphasizing the last word. “Don’t you have somewhere else to be to bother anyone there, Potter?”
But without getting intimidated by her harsh words, the handsome boy said in the same cheerful voice: “Not in particularly. I have to go, however, into the very same compartment you are standing in front of. And my friend Scorpius here is going to accompany me. Now, if you’ll excuse us.”
And with this words he slid into the compartment smoothly, and Scorpius followed without another word to his sister, closing the compartment door behind his back.
They left Cassiopeia quivering with anger, speechless about so much rudeness. She turned on her heel, trying to make her way through the now crowded aisle. The train was just about to leave, and the wandering students made it very hard for her and her heavy trunk to pass through.
Finally, she was standing in front of the Prefect’s compartment. The door was made from a dark, solid material and not from glass, like all the other doors. A silver P for Prefect was painted across it, and with excitement Cassiopeia fiddled her own, much smaller P that was attached to her clothes.
With a jolt, she pushed open the heavy door, letting her eyes wander around the compartment with curiosity. It was quite sizable, much larger in fact than the normal compartments, as two prefects of every house, usually sixth years, as well as the head boy and girl had to fit comfortably inside.
In contrary of the rest of the carriage, the seats were clean and had been newly upholstered, and some refreshments had been placed on a coffee table next to the door.
A big clock was ticking above their heads, but it did not show the time. Where the number 12 should have been, the Hogwarts crest was displayed instead, and the only clock hand symbolised the Hogwarts Express, as it would move closer to the castle in the same time as the train did.
Everyone had gathered already, with the exception for the head boy and girl, who would join them later to give them a short introduction of what it meant to be a prefect-
The two Gryffindor students were absorbed in a rather heated argument, taking no notice of the girl that had just entered the carriage whatsoever. They filled the whole compartment with their noise. Cassiopeia didn’t remember their names.
Next to the window, a lanky Ravenclaw girl with braided hair had buried her rather large nose in a book; her fellow housemate’s head was resting on her shoulder as he snored loudly. Cassiopeia didn’t know their names.
While a freckled Hufflepuff girl bent her round face over some piece of parchment she was scribbling on– was she writing home already? Merlin, they hadn’t even left King’s Cross station- the mousy boy next to her smiled at Cassiopeia. As she half-heartedly returned the smile, he started to blush and turned his head away from her. Cassiopeia didn’t want to know their names.
With a deep sigh she slipped on the seat next to the only familiar face. Robert Davies, a bulky, dark haired boy, gave a little whistle as he laid eyes on her. “Well, look who we have here”, he grinned at her appreciatively. “I had absolutely no idea who they had made prefect other than me, and I must say I’m not disappointed.”
“You idiot”, she laughed, pushing her hair behind her ear. The Slytherins always hung out together in a large crowd, just like a very big family. Even though they weren’t especially close or excessively sentimental towards one another, they always had each other’s backs and were very protective of their friends.
To herself Cassiopeia thought that she was glad that Robert had been made Prefect as well. She didn’t consider him as one of her close friends, but they occasionally talked and he was a very pleasant guy.
At the moment, he helped her to store away her heavy trunk as he was a lot stronger than her, for what she was very grateful. They then went on to exchange some empty phrases before chatting about how their summer had been.
After a while, they fell silent and Robert followed the Ravenclaw prefect suit and dozed off, too, leaving Cassiopeia to her own thoughts. According to the clock, she had quite some time to think things through.
Comfortably she stretched out in her seat, drinking a glass of refreshingly chilled pumpkin juice. In her hand she held a half empty bag of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavoured Beans, and without paying attention, she threw random beans into her mouth, chewing them with relish.
Almost immediately, her attention went back to Albus’s shirt inside her trunk. She had struggled with herself if she should actually take it with her, but shortly before they left she just had thrown it into her luggage without another thought. She would give it back to him, she had assured herself. The only reason she was taking Albus Potter’s Quidditch shirt to Hogwarts was so that she could return it.
When they had finally arrived at Hogwarts, Robert and Cassiopeia climbed into one of the black carriages with several other six year Slytherins. As the summer air was very mild, still, the hood of the carriages were left open, and the students had a spectacular view of the starry evening sky above their heads, of Hogsmeade and later, of the castle as well.
“So you two are telling me that you were made Prefects not before yesterday evening? I was almost mad at you for not telling me this yourself, Cassiopeia. I heard it from some random Gryffindor girl, like can you even imagine”, Melia Nott, a brown haired girl sitting next to Cassiopeia, chirped cheerily.
Cassiopeia smiled at Melia with indulgence. As the daughter of her only aunt, Daphne Nott nee Greengrass, she was used to her cousin’s talkativeness since they were toddlers. The spirited girl always seemed to be chattering incessantly, but until now, not many people had taken offense.
On Cassiopeia’s other side, her friend Idelia Bletchley had sprawled herself on the seat of the carriage. To strangers, the tall girl might have seemed shy, but her friends knew that she just wasn’t a person of many words. Even now, she followed the conversation in such a phlegmatic tranquillity that she was easily forgotten by her classmates.
Everyone was in cheerful spirits that evening, with the exception of Hazel Flint, who furrowed her browns in disdain. The name Hazel was one of the most unsuitable names her parents could have chosen for her, Cassiopeia thought, as the girl didn’t have any hazel features at all.
Hazel really wasn’t a beautiful girl, but she put so much effort in herself that she could almost pass as pretty. She kept her thin black hair in an accurate bob similar to her mother’s, and her pale, pointy face was heavily made up. Right now, her watery blue eyes scrutinized Cassiopeia through her bangs.
“I still think it’s funny that they picked you”, she said bluntly, looking at Cassiopeia confrontationally. “Personally, I wasn’t surprised when you didn’t show up in the train. I always thought it was just a matter of time before you changed sides and sat with your little Gryffindor brother instead.”
Melia shook her head with pity, raising one eyebrow before she sharply answered: “Oh shut it, Hazel, literally everyone knows that you wanted to claw the position with your false fingernails for yourself. You’re just being ridiculous.”
The girl Melia had addressed shot her a scathing look, but didn’t say anything in return. As things had calmed down, everyone carried on the conversation and had soon forgotten about the sulking Hazel in the corner of the carriage.
A/N: Hello my lovelies!
So, the third chapter is up. What do you think?
I hope it didn't get to confusing at the end, with all the new names. You'll learn more about (some of) the students in the following chapters, promise!
Well, personally this isn't one of my favourite chapters, but I still think it isn't that bad. Let me know what you thought, though!
I don't know how soon you can expect the next chapters, as I have exam weeks coming up, but right now I have a little time and try to write and upload as fast as I can. So stay tuned!
As always, lots of love - wanderlust xxx
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