Chapter 7 : A Fight and a Feast
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Melia flashed a satisfied smile up to the seventh-grade Gryffindor who had put his arm around her delicate shoulders. The older boy leaned down to her to whisper something into her ear, causing her to giggle and to blush from embarrassment at the same time. Excitedly, she turned around to the rather shy girl with the silvery fringe sitting next to her on the cold stone floor. “Quidditch captain”, she mouthed quietly to Cassiopeia, who was playing nervously with the long, silky strands of her shimmering hair.
Cassiopeia was not at ease. Unlike her friend Melia, who had always been one of the more precocious girls her age, she was quite reserved in the presence of boys, especially when they were older. Never having kissed a guy at the age of thirteen made her feel different from the other girls, and although she didn’t want to be a late bloomer, and although she thought she would enjoy kissing very much, she was very intimidated. What if she did it all wrong? What if the guy would be bothered by her lack of experience? What if she had bad breath?
Sensing the inner tension of her friend, Melia tried to think of a way to calm the nervous girl a little, but the best she could come up with was a kiss from one of those outstandingly attractive Quidditch players. “It’s Cassies turn”, she exclaimed matter-of-factly, causing the quiet girl to wince. Hesitantly, Cassiopeia stretched out her hand to take the bottle from Melia, noticing the jealous looks the other girls gave her. Every one of them envied her, but secretly she would’ve been glad to exchange places with any of them.
Her hands were shaking from nervousness, almost causing her to drop the bottle. Anxiously, she bit on her lower lip as she gave the Butterbeer bottle a bold spin. It turned around itself several times as though as it would never come to a halt and Cassiopeia felt like she had to throw up from all this tension.
Just as she thought she couldn’t bear it anymore, it stopped. She looked up to the sixth grader boy who it had landed on, and smiled a bit anxiously at him as the others began to whistle and to cheer. “Shall we?”, the attractive, dark haired boy asked Cassiopeia. She nodded, unable to say anything, and together they made their way to the cupboard in the Slytherin common room, where all the potion ingredients were kept in. Melia winked at her best friend before closing the door behind them, and turning the key in the lock. “You have seven magical minutes!”, she giggled, her voice sounding muffled through the heavy wood.
Darkness cloaked the two students who had been locked into the cupboard together, making the shy girl even more nervous than before. “I’m sorry, James”, she said quietly, “But I haven’t kissed anyone before. I’m probably a bad kisser.”
In a way, she was glad that the bottle had landed on James. Even if she didn’t know him very well, she at least knew him better than the other Gryffindor boys. Her mother had taken Cassiopeia with her when picking up Scorpius from the Potters on multiple occasions, and James had always been very nice to her. The thought of his friendliness made her instantly relax a little bit.
“I’m sure you’re not”, the boy replied, and she could hear a gentle smile warming his deep voice. “Although, if you don’t want to kiss me, that’s fine. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want. But I think you could be surprised, Cassiopeia.” The thirteen-year-old girl could feel his warmth in the air of the closet, revealing how close he was to her. Cassiopeia swallowed hard as she made her decision. “I want you to kiss me, James”, she whispered, almost inaudible.
He then carefully put his strong arms around her waist, holding her, and she could sense how his delicacy made her feel at ease even more. “You should do it because you want to, not because you feel pressured to”, he whispered into her ear softly. She could feel his breath brushing at the side of her face tenderly, and in this moment, she stepped forward all of a sudden to close the few centimetres between them.
She noticed his surprise about her boldness, and after a couple of seconds he broke the innocent kiss. “See, it wasn’t that bad”, he said with his gentle voice. “I think it was pretty great, actually. Thank you very much for sharing your first kiss with me.”
She giggled, and suddenly she was glad that the darkness concealed the pink blush that suffused her cheeks. Feeling more confident, she asked cockily: “Do you want to share my second kiss as well?” He laughed, and then she felt him leaning in.
The second kiss began as tame and innocent as the previous one, but then became more heated very quick. Pinned against the wall with her hands buried in James’s hair, that’s how the others found them a few minutes later.
As the light fell onto them again and they were greeted by the jeering of the group, he gently whispered into her ear: “You’re a fantastic kisser, Cassiopeia.”
Cassiopeia could see the surprise, a kind of disbelief even, in the reddened faces staring back at her. Uncomfortably, she crossed her arms in front of her body, wondering if it really seemed so unlikely that she had snogged James Potter. Yes, he was the older brother of the boy she despised with all her heart- and she felt nothing but contempt for Potter, she was quite certain- but still she felt a little offended by the doubts of the Gryffindors.
Next to her, she could feel how said boy tensed up, abruptly pulling back the arm he had put around the girl’s shoulder so casually before. “Excuse me?”, he asked quietly, his voice, normally so heated from passion, not conveying any emotion. “Do you mean my brother?” Furrowing his brows, he began to tear his dark locks, mussing up the unruly hair even more than usual.
She turned around, noticing the weird expression laying on Albus’s face, but she couldn’t quite align the somewhat pained look convulsing his clean-cut features. Questioningly, she cocked her head, not quite understanding what the fuss was all about. “I don’t know, three years ago, maybe? It wasn’t a big deal”, she answered. “I don’t know why you are so upset about it.”
“Oh, I’m not upset about it”, he hissed angrily, jumping on his feet, but everything from his facial expression to the tone of his voice proved him a liar. “But I can’t believe it! For three years, he said nothing! I’m his brother, he should have told me. The stupid tosser! I trusted him!”
Feeling a burning hot wave of seething anger flushing up inside of her, the silver-haired girl arose as well. “And why would he tell you? We agreed to just keep it between us, because it’s none of your damned business! What would he say to you, anyways? ‘Hey, nice weather today, also I snogged the girl you hate the most in the whole school’? What a pleasant conversation that would have been, I’m certain! Why do you even care so much?”
Albus shot down a fierce look at the girl he overshadowed., hardly being able to contain his anger. “I already told you, I don’t care! Not at all!”, he hissed at her, his voice quivering with fury. His handsome face was so distorted with rage that it would’ve intimidated the toughest of men, but Cassiopeia was left cold by it as her wrath was not less scary than his own.
“Great!”, she snapped back at the tall guy in front of her, her piercing grey eyes looking as though they were emitting angry sparks. Taking a deep breath, her heated temper calmed a little and she noticed that the other Gryffindors had fallen silent, looking at them curiously. With a perfect hair flip she turned on her heel, stalking through the crowded room with her head held high.
“Did you know?”, Albus asked his friend with an agonized tone in his chesty voice. He had placed himself casually on his large canopy bed after throwing all of his pillows through the room in an angry fit. Now, he had calmed down a little, but his bobbing leg gave away his inner tension.
Scorpius, already half asleep, didn’t even bother to lift his head from his pillow. “Go to sleep, mate”, he mumbled into his blanket drowsily as he was lying on his stomach. The other seventh-grade boys in their dormitory were snoring loudly in the neighbouring beds after passing out at the early hours of the day, the time the victorious celebration in the Gryffindor tower had finally come to an end.
But the dark-haired boy couldn’t even think about going to sleep like his best friend had suggested multiple times by now, so instead he sat on his four-poster, tearing his hair and staring ahead full of melancholy. “I mean I wasn’t assuming that she’d never kissed anyone before, but my own brother? That’s so weird, man”, he said gloomily.
In the bed next to him the fair-skinned boy with the silvery hair groaned in irritation, pulling his bedspread over his head. “I’m serious, if you don’t shut up I’m going to hex you. It won’t be pleasant, I tell you.” With this words, he turned on his side, facing the wall on his other side.
“I’m serious, too, Scorp”, Albus growled. “It’s bothering me. Really bad.” He finally had the undivided attention of his best friend, who sat up in his bed rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, giving the tanned boy a look of annoyance. “Fine”, Scorpius yawned, his pearly white teeth shimmering brightly in the dark of the room, “are you going to let me sleep after we talked about it?”
After seeing his friend nod eagerly, he continued: “I don’t understand why it’s bothering you so much, honestly, but just because you don’t like her, doesn’t mean your family has to feel the same way. I mean I get that you feel betrayed, at least in a way, but I don’t think your brother wanted to stab you in the back or anything. I mean, it’s really not that big of a deal. It has happened years ago, after all.”
Albus furrowed his brows, answering: “I don’t know what’s wrong, that’s the problem. It’s just bothering me. I don’t want anyone to kiss her, least of all my brother.” All of a sudden, he looked very exhausted, running his fingers through the dark beard stubble that had grown over night.
“You don’t have feelings for my sister, do you?”, Scorpius asked brusquely with an acuity in his raspy voice that hadn’t been there moments before. Defensively, Albus shook his head in categorical denial. “That’s not what it is, Scorp, not at all! Relatives are off limits, no one knows that better than me. Trust me.” But he wasn’t quite certain if he needed to reassure his best friend or himself.
“Do I really have to go?”, Cassiopeia complained to her older brother almost a week later. On this particular rainy Friday morning, he towered over her in the Great Hall, waving a piece of heavy, elegantly lettered parchment in front of the drowsy face of his younger sister. “Yes, you have to go, Cass”, he shrugged, “Mother explicitly mentioned you in her letter. We have to be home this evening.”
She rolled her eyes dramatically. “Don’t call me Cass! Also, He is your friend, why do I need to go? And why do we have to leave today? The Potter’s annual banquet doesn’t start until tomorrow evening”, the girl whined in desperation, crossing her arms in front of her body.
But her pouting left Scorpius cold, he only smiled down at his sister frostily and announced: “Mother wants you there, so pull yourself together and act your age, Cass. You have no choice, so deal with it.” With these words, he turned around and made his way through the hall to the Gryffindor table, leaving a stunned Cassiopeia behind.
Idelia Bletchley giggled and Cassiopeia noticed the scarlet colour that had deeply reddened her entire face. “I didn’t know he could be so authoritative”, she sighed with a dreamy smile, “That is really attractive.” Looking admiringly after her friend’s attractive brother, the blonde hadn’t realised that her long curls were hanging into her bowl of cereal.
Next to her, Melia Nott could hardly restrain herself from bursting out with laughter. “Oh, Idelia, do you love Scorpius? Do you want to kiss him? Do you want to- “ They didn’t get to know what their friend might want to do, as Idelia cut her off by hitting her with one of her heavy school books.
Cassiopeia buried her head in her arms. “I really don’t want to go”, she mumbled through a mess that was her heavy school robes and tangled strands of silvery hair. Melia furrowed her brows. “I don’t understand why you’re making such a drama about it, Cassiopeia. It’s not that big of a deal, honestly. Every girl in this school would literally kill to go. Including me.” With a shrug, the silver-haired girl turned back to her breakfast, choosing not to answer her friend’s rhetoric questions.
This evening, Scorpius and Cassiopeia apparated from Hogsmeade to Malfoy Manor, where Mrs Malfoy was awaiting them anxiously. She greeted her children with a long embrace. “I’m always glad when you come home, even when it’s just for a short period of time. I’ve missed you”, she said with her warm, motherly smile.
“I’d be happier to see you if it was Christmas”, Cassiopeia answered gloomily. Just as Mrs Malfoy was about to reprimand her daughter for her rude remark, Mr Malfoy entered the entrance hall of the manor. “I’d be happier if you were back for Christmas, too”, he said with a mischievous smile playing around his lips.
“Father!”, Cassiopeia yelled, a huge grin spreading on her face as she laid eyes on him. Still laughing, she threw herself in his outstretched arms. “It’s so good to see you again!”
Mrs Malfoy crossed her arms in front of her chest and looked at her husband in disdain. “Don’t talk like this, Draco”, she chided, “It is a great privilege to be invited to the Potter’s annual banquet! You should be grateful. Be a role model for your children!”
But Mr Malfoy just laughed and kissed his wife on the cheek. “Darling, we both know that the invitation is only for you and the children”, he said, putting his arm around Mrs Malfoy’s shoulders. She looked up at him and replied angrily: “That’s not true, Draco, and you know it. Every year I tell you to come and you refuse. I don’t even know what excuses I can come up with for your absence anymore!”
“I’m not going, Astoria”, Mr Malfoy responded dryly without elaborating on the topic.
Cassiopeia was feeling a bit lost between all those dress robes as she stood in Madame Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions. The clothes hangers to her sides were bending under the heavy weight of the colourful dress robes, but with this vast variety of different dresses the petite girl didn’t know where she should start looking.
Her mother was already bustling about the bulky shelves, pulling out one elegant robe after another to take a closer look. “Cassiopeia, dear, don’t you see anything you like?”, she asked as she pulled out a voluminous rose coloured gown and let the silky material glide through her slender fingers.
Without passion, the girl stepped forward, half-heartedly eying the colourful dresses. As she gently moved the clothes hangers, she didn’t like any of the robes: This one’s colour was too bright, the other’s flamboyant tulle skirt was too bouffant, and the next one’s glimmering gemstones were just too sparkly.
Suddenly, the girl stopped her sweeping hand movements, favourably examining a simple, emerald green gown. It was truly uneventful, but its airy, flowing cut and its simplicity made it charming in a classy way. “I’ve found one I like”, Cassiopeia said to her mother who was standing a few steps away.
At once, Mrs Malfoy moved closer to her daughter gracefully, a warm smile appearing on her appealing face at the thought of her daughter actually liking one of the elegant evening gowns. When she laid eyes on the dress, however, she shook her head vehemently. “You can’t wear that tonight”, she said with stern resolution in her normally so mellow voice. “We’re attending the annual banquet of the Potters; you can’t be draped in Slytherin colours. There may be occasions where house pride is appropriate, but this is not one of them.”
“Why not?” The silver-haired girl looked at her mother with annoyance, before continuing: “I don’t understand why I can’t go in an emerald dressing robe. If I was in Gryffindor, Ravenclaw or even Hufflepuff, it wouldn’t be any problem at all to wear my house colours! It’s only a dress!” Cassiopeia couldn’t understand why the choice of colour was even relevant to her mother.
But Mrs. Malfoy didn’t compromise with her daughter. “Young Lady”, she scolded the girl, “neither you nor your father are aware of what a great privilege it is to be invited at the Potter’s banquet. I don’t say that because they’re one of the most famous and influential families of our time, I say it as a former Slytherin after the Great Wizarding War. Do you know what it means for us to be invited to such an important event despite the stigma that clings to our name, our heritage?”
“We have talked about this multiple times, Cassiopeia, and I believe you are old enough to get over yourself and fully grasp the importance of the situation. Families like the Potters are the only reason that you don’t have to endure such a hard time as your father and I did, as all of the Slytherins did after the war. So no, I will not allow my daughter to dress up as Salazar Slytherin’s heiress, and I expect you to let go of your selfish attitude and act according to your age.”
“As you know very well, the dislike and mistrust of other witches and wizards towards our kind comes not without a good reason, and it is our duty to prove that we have bettered ourselves, it is our duty to unite the Wizarding World once again.”
Cassiopeia dropped her gaze in shame, avoiding to look at her disappointed mother. She felt embarrassed about how childish she had been acting because she realised that her mother was right. The apology got stuck in the fair girl’s throat like a poisoned apple and she couldn’t get out a sound, instead standing there in silence and staring at her toes. Everything she could have said sounded hollow, meaningless in her ears. Mrs Malfoy, she knew, was always trying very hard to fit in, and despite the difficulties she faced within this task, never gave up.
But her mother was not angry with her daughter. Comfortingly, she embraced the petite girl in her arms and whispered: “We’ll get through tonight together.” And Cassiopeia realised how exhausting it must have been for her mother all those years attending the Potter’s annual banquet, where she felt like an outsider in every second and where the last name and the heritage she bore were enough for people to treat and judge her like one.
A/N: Hello my lovelies!
I hope you're still with me after all this time (Pun totally intended)! Sorry for not updating as frequently as I promised (Or at all), but not only have I been travelling, but also struggled with a major writer's block - nevertheless, I hope this turned out allright.
However, I've decided to not make promises I can't keep anymore, so I cannot tell you how fast I'll be able to upload a new chapter, but I will promise you that I'll keep on writing and uploading as fast as I can.
What do you think about this chapter? I'd love to know your opinion!
Stay with me!
Lots of love, wanderlust xxx
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