Chapter 6 : A War of Scarlet and Emerald
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As she scurried through the moonlight flooded halls and corridors of the Hogwarts castle, she seemed to become one with the dark shadows. Even though she was as quiet as a cat and her feet didn’t quite seem to touch the ground, making no noise whatsoever, she was very lucky that she met no one on her journey.
Finally, she stood in front of the still life that had been her destination, with a graceful movement she stretched out her arm and tickled a very mellow looking pear with her delicate fingers. The painting under her hand transformed at once, and where the pear had been only a couple seconds ago, a heavy doorknob appeared. She had known about this secret entrance since she had been nine years of age, for her brother Scorpius had mentioned it in one of the first letters he had ever sent her, keeping his word and describing every single centimetre in the huge castle to his curious sister, who wished nothing more than to attend Hogwarts as well.
She turned the doorknob, and the tremendous oil painting swung open with a muffled creak, revealing a hidden archway that lay in the shadows completely. She looked back over her shoulder cautiously to assure herself that no one had heard her, but the corridor appeared to be deserted except for a stack of barrels that had been there longer than she could remember. When she was sure she was alone, she slipped through the archway into the shadows, hearing the painting swinging back slowly to conceal the entrance once again.
As she entered the enormous room that laid behind the passageway, she was greeted warmly by the house elves, who bustled about in the kitchen, cleaning pots and plates and preparing the Sunday breakfast already. Thankfully Cassiopeia took a cup of steaming hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and made her way through the high-ceilinged room. Suddenly she paused, noticing a well-known figure sitting on one of the large tables that stood in the centre of the kitchens.
With a smile she approached the broad shouldered boy with the silvery hair that was so similar to hers. Hearing her footsteps, he turned around with a startled expression, but as Scorpius recognized his sister he returned the smile and moved over, so that the petite girl could seat herself next to her older brother.
“Why are you still up in the middle of the night, Cass?”, Scorpius asked his sister, stirring the dark liquid in the cup on the table in front of him. Cassiopeia sighed deeply and took a sip from her chocolate, which she regretted immediately, as it was still scalding hot. “I couldn’t sleep”, she said finally, in lack of a better answer. “What about you?”
He shrugged and raised his cup to his mouth as well, gulping down the brown beverage that smelled pleasantly like freshly brewed coffee. “Couldn’t sleep as well.” As a faint rose colour reddened his cheeks, Scorpius raked his fingers through his already tousled hair, tangling it even more. “It’s just that I can’t stop to think about Rose, you know.”
Compassionately, his sister put her arm around his broad shoulders to comfort him. “Tell her”, she suggested softly with an encouraging smile. “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Scorpius looked at his sister in disbelief and said: “You don’t understand how much I cannot do that. Besides, Al would kill me if I made advances to his cousin.”
The mention of Albus Potter stung Cassiopeia a little inside and her stomach tensed uncomfortably, but she tried to ignore the feeling as good as possible. “I forgot”, she said glumly, “relatives are off-limits.” As her brother nodded, she continued: “That’s a stupid rule anyways. He can’t expect you to ignore your feelings just because he happens to be related to her. He seems to be related to at least half of the students at Hogwarts.”
But Scorpius just sadly shook his head. “No, I can’t break this rule. He’s my best friend, Cass! That would be the same as he making a pass at you. He wouldn’t do that to me.” Cassiopeia stared fixedly into her cup of hot chocolate, pushing a strand of her silvery hair out of her face.
“Yes”, she mumbled under her breath, “that would be terrible.
On the next morning, Cassiopeia hoped that she looked only half as tired as she felt, and that would be bad enough already. She sat at the long Slytherin table in the Great Hall next to her two best friends, with a cup of strongly brewed coffee in front of her. Melia Nott and Idelia Bletchley seemed to have gotten a much better night’s sleep, as Melia filled the hall with her merry chattering and Idelia tackled the large pile of food she had stacked up on her plate.
Melia, who had placed her Divination textbook as well as a crystal ball in front of her, wrinkled her nose at the table manners of Idelia, who didn’t seem to mind one bit. “That’s disgusting”, she remarked pointedly, but the honey blonde girl just rolled her eyes and proceeded her meal with eagerness.
“Anyways”, Melia continued, “this Divination homework is just stupid. I have to see something that is true in the crystal ball, how am I supposed to do that? It is only a stupid ball, for Merlin’s sake!” With a frustrated groan she moved so close to the crystal ball that her nose touched its cool surface, but nothing happened.
Untouched by her friend’s distress, Cassiopeia took a deep sip from her cup, but the bitter taste of the dark liquid made her grimace in disgust. She normally didn’t drink coffee at all as she didn’t like it, but this day she felt so exhausted that she had made an exception.
“Hey, I see something!”, the brunette screeched suddenly, her piercing voice quivering with excitement. Cassiopeia looked up from the dark liquid that her mug contained, only to see her friend eagerly ogling the crystal ball in front of her, the beautiful doe-eyes wide open so she wouldn’t miss anything happening in front of her eyes. “What is it?”, Idelia asked half-heartedly, chewing keenly on an especially tasty piece of her crispy breakfast bacon.
Melia furrowed her brows, pushing a strand of her chestnut coloured hair out of her face, unaware of the fact that she had attracted the attention of at least half of the Hogwarts students having breakfast in the Great Hall on this particularly bright Sunday morning. From all over the vast room people looked curiously to the trio sitting in the centre of the long Slytherin table. Conversations had faded away almost altogether, and a tense silence spread through the hall.
“I see you, Cassiopeia!”, Melia chirped, pleased with herself. “You are standing in our dormitory; I can see it all very clearly. There is your bed, but what are you doing? Oh, you are lifting your pillow, there is some scarlet fabric underneath -“ With a loud bang Cassiopeia placed her mug on her saucer, cutting off the resounding words spoken by her friend, which had seemed to fill the entirety of the room.
Dazedly, Melia blinked a couple of times as if the noise had catapulted her back into the present. As she glanced at the crystal ball again, the only thing she could make out in the swirling fog that always seemed to float around on the inside of the sphere was her own reflection staring intensely back hat her. “It’s gone”, she whispered disappointedly. The silence, that had lain on the Great Hall almost like a spell, had vanished as well.
Turning back to Cassiopeia, Melia asked: “I wonder what the chrystal ball was trying to tell me with that. It seems so strange, don’t you think? What is this scarlet piece of cloth that you keep under your pillow?” Cassiopeia elevated from her seat abruptly. “The stupid thing lied, there’s no cloth”, she answered brusquely, but she didn’t dare to look at her friends. “Now, if you excuse me.”
And with these words she turned on her heel, making her way quickly through the Great Hall. Even without lifting her gaze from the heavy stones that made up the floor of the room, she could tell that every single pair of eyes in the Great Hall lasted on her as she stalked through the heavy oak portal.
As she had almost reached the entrance to the dungeons, she heard the noise of fast, heavy footsteps behind her, causing her to turn around. As she laid eyes on him, the dark haired boy stopped dead in his tracks. “Are you alright?”, he asked.
Cassiopeia rolled her eyes. “What do you care, Potter?”, she shot back sarcastically. Instead of offending him, her words caused one of his big, cocky smiles to appear on his face. “I just so happen to know what piece of scarlet cloth you’re hiding under that pillow”, he said, bristling with arrogance.
“And how do you know?”, the girl questioned coldly, crossing her arms in front of her body, giving her best to seem clueless what he was talking about. But she knew perfectly well what he meant, and Albus was aware of it. Slowly, he paced through the entrance hall of the castle. “Because I gave it to you”, he shrugged, stopping directly in front of the petite girl.
She took a step back, looking straight into the green eyes of the tall boy overshadowing her. Even though his face seemed fresh and handsome like always, she could make out the dark circles under his eyes, the only evidence of a sleepless night. His deep tan had already faded a little, but his skin still had a warm golden colour, much darker than the pallid cheeks of the girl. She looked very fragile, almost transparent standing there, the heavy-weighting school robe draped over her slim shoulders. “You think your jersey is the only scarlet piece of cloth I possess?”, she asked mockingly, her voice still cold as ice.
But Albus wasn’t intimidated by her harsh rhetorical questions. The rejection in her voice seemed to encourage him to prove her wrong, even. “Oh, I’m sure you own a lot of Gryffindor-coloured clothes”, he sneered. “It’s not even your colour.” He let his eye wander over the little silver snake dangling around her slender neck down to her silver and emerald striped tie, before looking back into her dark grey eyes. Without flinching, she retaliated at once. “Maybe you’re not the only Gryffindor giving me a keepsake.”
His mocking grin grew even wider, if that was possible. “What’s his name, then?”, he asked with a self-assurance that seemed to be too tremendous to fit even in the vast entrance hall where they were standing. “That’s none of your business, Potter”, she remarked condescendingly, adding: “What are you trying to accomplish here, anyways?”
“Oh, I can tell you that”, he said, still baring his teeth as he smiled cockily, “I’m trying to prove that I’m right and that you, indeed, sleep with my Quidditch jersey under your pillow.” He looked very pleased with himself as he stood there, looking down on the silver-haired Cassiopeia who was standing in front of him. A ray of morning sunlight fell onto his face, illuminating him softly. The soft bronzed colour of his skin seemed almost to glow like liquid gold.
“Fine!”, she gave in finally. “You are right! It’s your stupid shirt under my pillow! Are you happy now?” Her grey eyes twinkled furiously up at him. “Almost”, he said teasingly, tousling his dark hair with a pretentious gesture as he spoke. “But not quite.”
“What do you want from me?”, she huffed angrily, raising one perfectly plucked eyebrow. He came closer, only centimetres were dividing them now. “I want you to wear my jersey on the Quidditch game this Saturday, Gryffindor against Slytherin.” She gasped. “Never! I won’t betray my own house! Are you insane?”
“Too bad”, he murmured, placing his right hand on the stone wall behind her face. She was trapped, but even though the boy made her furious inside and she had still crossed her arms to keep him on distance, she didn’t actually mind him being so close to her. “I don’t think you would betray your house, though, just by wearing my Quidditch jersey.”
“Maybe I simply don’t want to wear it”, she whispered back at him, being painfully aware of how close Albus was. Her excuses sounded weak, even to herself.
“Albus? And Cass? Merlin, what are you doing?” The boy winced, darting away from his best friend’s sister as though he had burned himself. Speechlessly, Scorpius looked from one to another.
“I was just about to leave”, Cassiopeia said laconically, but Scorpius couldn’t but notice a faint rose colour creeping in her fair cheeks. She turned on the spot and vanished through the door to the dungeons, which was just one metre located from where they had been standing. The boys were left alone in the entrance hall, just with themselves and with a very, very uncomfortable tension between them.
“Look, Scorp, we were just arguing”, Albus finally broke the silence, but he wasn’t quite looking at his best friend. Scorpius’s icy grey eyes seemed as hard and sharp as daggers as he shot the dark-haired boy a piercing look. “It didn’t look like just arguing to me”, he said coldly through gritted teeth. “Albus, she is my sister.”
“Do you think I don’t know that?”, Albus shot back heatedly. “Because I do! I’m aware of it every second! But to a lot of boys in this school it means nothing! You can’t always protect her!” He breathed heavily. “Scorp”, he said, a bit more collected now, “I tell you, man, nothing happened. I swear! She hates me anyways.” He laughed sarcastically, but in his expression lay a faint pain.
“Where are you going?”, Melia Nott asked Cassiopeia, grabbing her friend by the wrist as the silver-haired girl stood up from her seat on the Great Hall table. The atmosphere in the hall was tense this cloudy Saturday morning, as everyone was excited for the first Quidditch game of the season, Gryffindor against Slytherin.
“I left something in our dorm, that’s all. I’ll join you at the pitch later, so save me a seat!” She squirmed her wrist free of Melia’s firm grip and made her way through the Great Hall, but instead of slipping through the entrance to the dungeons, she scurried out of the massive front portal and ran over the Hogwarts grounds down to the Quidditch pitch. It was a dull morning, and a thin fog hung wraithlike over the sloping terrain.
Shivering, she pulled her black cloak tighter around her shoulders as she walked. Autumn had finally arrived.
When she had finally arrived at the pitch, she quietly tiptoed around the building with the locker rooms. Softly, she knocked against a massive wood door embellished with a scarlet and golden crest. With quiet creaking the door was opened from the inside, a muscular boy stood in the frame, looking down on Cassiopeia.
“Malfoy!”, Albus said in surprise. “Um, Scorpius isn’t here yet, I’m afraid. Sorry.” He crossed his toned arms in front of his body. Cassiopeia noticed that he was wearing his Quidditch robes already. “I know”, she said shrugging, a bit short of breath. “I wanted to speak to you, Potter, before the game.”
The dark-haired boy raised an eyebrow. “What’d I do?”, he asked perplexedly, trying to remember if he had angered her in the past week. He couldn’t think of anything, though. Suddenly, his cocky smirk appeared on his face once again. “I see you’re not wearing my jersey, Malfoy. You wound me!” Under her cloak he could make out an emerald jumper. She was thoroughly dressed in the Slytherin colour.
“You’re an idiot”, she said, but he noticed that her voice was not as icy as usual. “Scorpius said a couple of times that you always go to the Quidditch field earlier than the others. I just wanted to wish you good luck.” As she noticed his startled expression, she quickly added: “I mean you need it, the Slytherin team will sweep you off your brooms, obviously.”
Self-assured, he leaned on the doorframe and pushed back his tousled hair. “I wouldn’t be so sure of that”, he said confidently, puffing himself up. She rolled her eyes at him. “You’re an idiot”, she said again, but with a faint smile.
“You already mentioned it”, he answered, shrugging his shoulders. “Have you come down here so early just to tell me that?” His comment caused her cheeks to pinken. “I got your jersey with me”, she blurted out suddenly. “I mean you can’t see it from the pitch because there’s no way people are going to see me wearing that thing, so I thought I tell you that I keep it in my pocked.”
A little embarrassed, she looked down on her toes. “Oh”, Albus said eloquently. “Um, great.” They both fell in an awkward silence, looking at everything but each other. “I think that was all”, Cassiopeia breathed, turning around and making her way to the ranks, which were already filling with students.
“Wait!”, Albus exclaimed, causing the petite girl to stand still, but not to turn around. “I, um, appreciate it!” Still turning her back to him, she answered: “I hope you fall off your broom!” Her voice was as icy as usual.
“But we lost!”, Cassiopeia exclaimed desperately as she brushed the tangles out of her windswept hair. Melia Nott shook her head disapprovingly, holding up two different outfits. “It doesn’t matter who wins, Cassiopeia! That’s not what Quidditch is about! It’s about the attractive players, of course. And oh Merlin, have you seen the Gryffindor Quidditch team?”
The silver-haired girl rolled her eyes, looking for support from her normally so phlegmatic friend Idelia Bletchley. But she seemed almost like an absolutely different person as she applied her make-up eagerly. “Melia is right”, she said matter-of-factly, giving her eyes a very feline look with a liquid marker.
“Thank you! So, which one is better?”, Melia asked her two friends, still undecided between a very tight dress and a very tight pair of jeans. “Come on, Cassiopeia, which one would your brother like better?” After seeing the murderous glance Idelia shot her, the brunette corrected herself: “Okay, which one would Albus like better?”
“He’s a jerk, who knows what he likes”, Cassiopeia answered sharply, pulling an emerald top over her head. “Lighten up, Cassiopeia, come on! You can’t deny that he’s attractive, you know. Who cares if he’s a jerk?” After a look at her friend’s outfit, Melia added: “And you probably shouldn’t wear Slytherin colours to a Gryffindor victory party. Don’t you have something more scarlet?”
The girl possessed only one Gryffindor-scarlet piece of clothing, and that was Albus’s Quidditch jersey. There was no way she was going to wear that. “No, she said, I have nothing.”
“Don’t worry”, Idelia assured her friend, “you can wear whatever you want. I’m also not going draped in scarlet and gold, but if Melia wants to be the embodiment of the Gryffindor crest, no one’s going to stop her.” The girls laughed at their friend, who looked beautiful in her little red dress, but very much like the Gryffindor crest indeed.
“You two are very funny”, Melia said, rolling her eyes, but she also had to giggle a little. “Let’s go now, or we’ll miss all the fun.”
As they arrived at the Gryffindor tower, the party had already started a while ago and everyone was already a little merry. It seemed like half the school had gathered in the common room, and no one seemed to notice the three Slytherin girls that had just entered the noisy room.
“Let’s look for your brother”, Idelia suggested. “I want to congratulate him.” She had to scream to drown the noise with her own, normally very quiet voice. Even though the other girls knew that Idelia hoped to not just congratulate the good looking boy, they thought that it was indeed a good idea.
But just as they started to look for the shimmer of silvery hair among all the people in the crowded room, they were found instead by a very euphoric Albus Potter. “Didn’t know stinky Slytherins were invited to our little victory party”, he exclaimed with a charming, very self-assured laugh.
“Well”, Melia answered, coquettishly batting her eyes, “we are always up for a good party. And I heard Gryffindor parties are very good.” But the dark haired boy didn’t pay much attention to the beautiful brunette nor her slender fingers she had placed on his arm so casually. “Can I get you a drink?”, he asked, his eyes fixed on Cassiopeia, who shook her head. “I’d love to get a drink”, Melia smiled at the tall boy.
“The bar is over there”, Albus said dismissively, vaguely pointing across the room, and Melia’s charming simper froze a little on her lips. “Come on, Malfoy, there are some people I’d like you to meet.” With these words he put his strong arm around her waist, pulling the petite girl gently through the cramped room. Helplessly, she turned around to her friends, mouthing “help me”, but Melia looked slightly annoyed about the brush-off, whereas Idelia laughed at the unsuccessful advances of the girl standing next to her.
He came to halt in front of a fairly large group of tiddly Gryffindors, one of them being Scorpius. He raised his eyebrow when he saw his best friend’s arm resting around Cassiopeia, but Rose next to him leaned in to whisper something into his hear, and although Cassiopeia couldn’t hear what she was saying, she saw that her brother’s tension vanished immediately. She felt a little sorry for Idelia.
Next she was introduced to all of the people, forgetting their names again at an instance, and urged by Albus to sit down on the floor, where the others sat in a circle already. “We’re playing truth or dare”, one particularly mellow girl explained to Cassiopeia with a giggle. The Gryffindors whistled and cheered at her words, and Cassopeia, feeling a little out of place, watched them quietly as they dared each other to do more stupid, more exciting and more dangerous things each turn. Of course all of the Gryffindors picked dare.
“So, Malfoy, truth or dare?”, the giggly girl asked Cassiopeia, who winced as she heard her own name. “Oh, I don’t play”, she clarified coldly, raising one of her eyebrows as her gaze fell onto the tipsy girl. The Gryffindors protested loudly, trying to convince her to play. But she wouldn’t have it. “No thanks”, she insisted, giving them a condescending look.
“Scared, Malfoy?”, Albus suddenly whispered into her ear from behind. “Didn’t think you’d play, anyways. All Slytherins are cowards, my father always told me. Since the first day we met I knew you’re a coward.” The girl jerked away from him at once, looking at the boy full of scorn before turning back at the girl. “I’ll play!”, she said loudly.
“Fantastic”, she chirped, pushing a strand of fiery red hair behind her ear. “So, little Malfoy, truth or dare?” Without hesitation, Cassiopeia replied “Truth!”, causing the Gryffindors to look at her with bewilderment. “Oh come on, you were supposed to say dare”, Albus complained. “Those are the unwritten rules.”
She shot him a despising look. “Well”, she said, shrugging her shoulders in perfectly played casualness, “You should have thought of that before naming the game truth or dare. I take truth.”
“I think it’s exciting that someone picks truth, for a change”, the redhead smiled at her. “Very brave of you! So, let’s think of a question.” She furrowed her brows, thinking intensely for a while. Cassiopeia felt a little uneasiness arising in her as she waited quietly for the question. “Alright”, the girl said after a few minutes. “I’ll go easy on you. Who was your first kiss?”
Cassiopeia felt a deep scarlet colour creeping onto her cheeks as she stared on the floor where she sat cross-legged. All the people in the circle waited impatiently for her to speak. When she lifted her gaze, the thick atmosphere in the room was almost too intense to bear.
“James”, Cassiopeia said finally. “James Potter.”
A/N: Hello my lovelies!
After I've been out of my homecountry for several weeks, I'm finally able to write again. So this chapter was particularly difficult to write in my opinion, but I hope it turned out alright! What do you think?
I had some major issues with my computer, but now that I've got that fixed, I hope I can update more frequent again.
Stay with me! As always, I'd love to hear your reviews.
Lots of love, wanderlust xxx
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