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Old 02-08-2010, 03:35 AM   #1 (permalink)

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Essence of Violets - Sa13+
The Story of Cassandra Cooper Rae-Branxton


Background: Headmistress Rae was at Hogwarts from 2051-2067, acting as DADA professor and as Headmistress during that time. For more information, you can read more here and here. Or you can just keep reading. Just a bit of information about how this will go... each chapter has two parts, one set in "real RP time" and the other a memory in the past. Enjoy!

Chapter Guide

Chapter 1 - Essence of Violets
Chapter 2 - An Introduction to Bluebells
Chapter 3 - The Mud Lotus
Chapter 4 - Queen Anne's Lace
Chapter 5 - A Constellation of Irises
Chapter 6 - Every Aster in Hand
Chapter 7 - There's Pansies, That's for Thoughts


***


The human spirit seems a fragile thing, as delicate as a violet in the grass. Beautiful, simple in what it requires from the world, complex in what it offers. With just a bit of pressure, the spirit bruises. With a careless gesture, it crushes.

But the spirit, like the violet, is a hardy little thing. Built to withstand the elements, the violet will spread across an entire hillside come spring. When human carelessness crushes the violet, the scent lingers. It is a reminder of what was once beautiful and a promise of what will be beautiful again. It is grace, in that moment, blessing the crusher and promising that even one who destroys can come to good.

And so the human spirit is, withstanding trial and pain, heartbreak and betrayal, to bloom once again. It is the nature of a violet to forgive.

It is the nature of a soul to survive.


Cassandra dropped the quill as a hand cramp overtook her. Writing for long periods of time was one of those acquired skills that she had never taken the time to develop, and Cassandra massaged her right hand with her left as she reread the few sentences she’d scratched out moments earlier.

Maudlin, sentimental drivel.

With a sharp tug, Cassandra ripped the top three inches from the parchment and tossed the scrap to the side. There was a growing pile of parchment fragments, short paragraphs framed by inkblots and notes surrounded by quill-scratched curlicues. She couldn’t quite bring herself to throw them away until she was absolutely sure they were of no value, which of course couldn’t happen until her book was in print.

Her book.

When Williker Wimble of Wimble and Whist Wizarding Publishing had first approached Cassandra with the suggestion that she pen her autobiography, she had laughed at the very idea.

“I’m not a writer,” she insisted. But Wimble told her to think about it, and she’d been chasing the idea around and around ever since. Even Doyle offered his support by buying out Scrivenshaft’s. It seemed a shame to let the collection of multi-colored inks and scented quills go to waste, and the honey-haired witch had been trying to start her autobiography ever since.

If only one of those quills would write something worthwhile. Cassandra had this theory that if she could just figure out how to begin, everything else would fall into place.

“Mum! Mum! MummummumMUMMUM!” The door to the study crashed against the wall as Cassandra’s 4-year-old son barreled into the room. He peered at her from beneath a mop of unruly dark curls before launching himself across the room and into her lap. Ouch. His little elbows met her thigh and stomach as the little boy climbed up her like a tree.

Cassandra pushed the hair off his forehead. It was time for another haircut, something Doyle would have scheduled weeks out and that Cassandra continuously pushed back in favor of romps through the garden and visits to the little cove near their home. Marcus Orion was just as curious about the world as his two older sisters, although his interest in things had a quiet intensity that was more… restful than dealing with the twins.

“What…” Cassandra began, but the little boy shoved his pudgy forearm between them, displaying a nasty circular welt. It looked painful.

Marcus Orion nuzzled into the toddler-shaped space of his mother’s lap, and she kissed the bruise before reaching for her wand. “Fee hurt me.”

“Really?” That was surprising. Of the twins, Genevieve was the instigator and the mastermind, while Sophia acted as the balanced one, figuring out how to carry out her sister’s diabolical schemes and tempering them when Genevieve got too wild.

The bruise was disappearing under the careful wandwork, and Marcus Orion looked on in interest. “She sucked’d my arm.”

Hmm. What were those girls up to? “That doesn’t sound good. And why did she do that?”

“To get the poison out.” His little head nodded, bumping up against her chin. The bruise was entirely gone, but Marcus Orion made no move out of Cassandra’s lap.

It was nice that he still let his parents hold him. Genevieve had never been able to sit still long enough for holding, to the point where Doyle swore her first complete sentence was “I busy!” And with Sophia acting as loyal shadow, the two had outgrown snuggles earlier than their mother was ready.

But Marcus Orion was a cuddler. “Poison? What…?”

The boy turned dark eyes up to his mother’s face. “Vivi bite me.”

And now the story was coming together. Cassandra snuggled back into the leather chair, her gaze intent on her son’s face. “Let’s start over, my love. Begin at the beginning.”

***


It was nearly 10 am on September 1st, and a small blond statue perched on a trunk in the front hall of the Cooper Manor. Her posture was ramrod straight, and she hadn’t moved an inch in almost two hours. It was time to go but young Cassandra Cooper had yet to see anyone.

She could hear them, though, as voices rose through the closed door of the parlor.

“I won’t do it, Mother. You know I’m in line for that promotion, and Clara and I have the day set aside to prepare for the interview next week,” Cassandra’s older brother Brennan complained at their mother’s shrill demand that Brennan take Cassandra to King’s Cross. There was a dull thump, and she imagined he had thrown something out of frustration.

“But Brenny! You know how I get when I have one of my episodes,” Lucille Cooper’s tone was low, although everyone in the house was aware of Mother’s ‘episodes’. This was the term used when something required magic and Father wasn’t around to perform it for her, and it was the convenient excuse Lucille presented whenever she was asked to leave the house and face a world that wasn’t as willing to pretend she was a witch.

Brennan snorted, followed by another dull thump. Cassandra couldn’t fathom why her brother was being so mean. He knew mother couldn’t take her to King’s Cross by herself, but he pointedly refused to go. To Cassandra, who worshipped her older brother with big-eyed adoration, it was completely out of character for him.

The clock struck 10, and Cassandra let herself slide from the top of the trunk into an untidy pile on the floor. For years, Brennan had been regaling her with stories of his time at Hogwarts, and Cassandra had been living for the moment she climbed aboard that scarlet train since her own owl had arrived. And now… she was going to miss the whole thing. Maybe they didn’t let you come if you missed the train. Maybe she’d have to stay home forever.

“Cece. Look at me!” She rolled over from her puddle impression just in time to watch her younger brother Alec tumble down the staircase. He had a trio of toy dragons strapped to his belt, tiny wings struggling valiantly to keep him in the air. And failing just as valiantly.

“Whoa,” Alec shook his head and swatted at the little dragons swarming his head and trying to pull his trousers off. “I thought that would work.”

Cassandra scrabbled across the marble-slick floor on her hands and knees. He didn’t seem to be hurt, and Alec had fallen from much greater heights, but she wanted to check just to be sure. There wasn’t anyone home who could heal him if he had brain trauma or something. “You’re such an idiot.”

“Yeah,” he agreed, letting her shake and pinch his extremities without protest. “Being an idiot is fun.”

Leaving Alec, goofy little brother and constant accident victim, was the only hard part about going to Hogwarts. Maybe not going was good, if it meant she could spend one more year making sure he didn’t die by his own hands. And when it was time for Alec to go to Hogwarts, Cassandra would make absolutely certain he got to the station on time, even if she had to call the Knight Bus herself.

Brennan strolled from the parlor, letting the door slam behind him with impatience. To Cassandra, from her spot on the floor, he was handsome and seemed to fill the entire room. Even when he was frowning at her.

“Let’s go, squirt. Clara and I have very important shopping to do.” He snapped his fingers at her once before strolling out the front door to the apparition spot in the front yard.

Cassandra scrambled back across the foyer to her trunk. Her extremely heavy trunk. She struggled out the front door with it just as Mother emerged from the parlor.

“Cassandra,” Mother rubbed her forehead. An episode. “Do behave with a bit of decorum, please. Remember that you are a Cooper above all things.” She shut the door firmly behind her daughter, leaving the girl to carry her trunk down the walkway to where Brennan waited.
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Old 02-08-2010, 04:33 AM   #2 (permalink)


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I enjoyed this very much. The comparison to the violets was poetically done and the description of Rae's little hellions was adorable. I could even hear Mo say "Fee hurt me." I am also looking forward to the flashbacks... Not just to see a young Rae, but a young Brennan and Alec, as well as others.

Post More Soooon!
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Old 02-09-2010, 02:22 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Hehe. I love the reactions that characters in my head have to this. Guh. This is going to be my favorite. RAE DESERVES HER OWN FIC, and I do so enjoy your writing. You do dialogue really well, you know?

You know. hehe


Haha even though I have an INKLING what happens next, you'd never know by how pumped and ready I am for the next UPDATE. DOOO ITTTT. hehe Guh.


Alec is so precious. o__o
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Old 02-09-2010, 02:28 AM   #4 (permalink)



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I may not know Rae, but I'm really excited for this.

Cauuuuse, I love your stuff.

And while Rae may have torn off that bit about violets, I actually really really liked it.
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Old 02-09-2010, 02:38 AM   #5 (permalink)
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When Touzy commented I saw this in the sidebar, and when I scrolled over it with the curser and got the brief little summary that comes up I honestly squealed a little bit. I'm soooo excited; Rae has a Fic!

Being one of MANY who miss her and Lainey and Branxton and the babies AND extremely curious of things like their history and all that good ness, this is such a treat.

Rae's kids are SO cute to read about, and I love your writing! It's very well written and pretty. *puts up camp*
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Old 02-09-2010, 03:37 AM   #6 (permalink)
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YOU... are my hero.

YAY RAE!

*piddles* :3

LOVELOVELOVE.
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Old 02-24-2010, 04:48 AM   #7 (permalink)

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Droo View Post
I enjoyed this very much. The comparison to the violets was poetically done and the description of Rae's little hellions was adorable. I could even hear Mo say "Fee hurt me." I am also looking forward to the flashbacks... Not just to see a young Rae, but a young Brennan and Alec, as well as others.

Post More Soooon!
Mwah. I'm glad you liked it. The kids are so distinctive in my head, and I was hoping they'd come across that way as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Eye Touz View Post
Hehe. I love the reactions that characters in my head have to this. Guh. This is going to be my favorite. RAE DESERVES HER OWN FIC, and I do so enjoy your writing. You do dialogue really well, you know?

You know. hehe

Alec is so precious. o__o
I love the reaction of my characters to the reaction of your characters.

And I do know.

And we love Alec. We do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AmbiguouslyMe View Post
I may not know Rae, but I'm really excited for this.

Cauuuuse, I love your stuff.

And while Rae may have torn off that bit about violets, I actually really really liked it.
Hehe. I hope you enjoy her story, 'cause she wants Tibi to come live with her. Immediately.

Quote:
Originally Posted by D.A Forever View Post
When Touzy commented I saw this in the sidebar, and when I scrolled over it with the curser and got the brief little summary that comes up I honestly squealed a little bit. I'm soooo excited; Rae has a Fic!

Being one of MANY who miss her and Lainey and Branxton and the babies AND extremely curious of things like their history and all that good ness, this is such a treat.

Rae's kids are SO cute to read about, and I love your writing! It's very well written and pretty. *puts up camp*
Awww, you're cute. So cute. It's gratifying to know that you miss Rae baby and that you want to read more of her story. Update is forthcoming .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grangerfn1 View Post
YOU... are my hero.

YAY RAE!

*piddles* :3

LOVELOVELOVE.
I knew you'd be along shortly .



Chapter 2: An Introduction to Bluebells


“I don’t know how you do this.”

The large bay window in the study framed Anjelica Lainey like a portrait in its frame, capturing her white-knuckled grip on the brocade curtains and the tense lines of her posture. The woman pressed herself against the window as if she wished she was on the other side of the glass.

“How I do what?” Cassandra glanced up from the stack of papers on her desk with a distracted smile. “How I look out the window? It’s simple, really. Let me walk you through it. First, you stand at the window. Second, you look through it. Third…”

Like the taut string of a bow suddenly released, Anj’s body collapsed in on itself and she slumped against the window with a little laugh. “Don’t be an idiot.”

“It runs in the family,” Cassandra shoved the papers into a drawer. No more autobiography for the day. Mr. Wimble had generously promised her that she would never have deadlines, but Cassandra was goal-oriented. She’d carved a pocket of time out of each day just for writing. It hadn’t been nearly as productive as she would have liked.

Anj pressed her nose against the window to watch the winter scene below. A halo of condensation formed around her head. “It does run in the family. But what I was actually referring to was… I don’t know how you do this mother thing.”

Cassandra joined her best friend at the window. The rose garden rolled out beneath them, although the bushes were currently piled with drifts of snow. Slushy paths wound through the garden, a clear indication that the children had been outside already this morning. In fact, she could see a pair of knit caps circling the frozen fountain, one with unruly dark curls sticking to his reddened cheeks. The other boy, the smaller one, lost his own cap as he climbed onto the fountain’s rim. Next to her, Anj tensed.

“I think you’re doing fine,” Cassandra’s voice pitched to soothing tones as she watched the boys with interest. Lainey’s son Colby was a few years younger than Marcus Orion, but he was a dedicated shadow when the boys were permitted to play together. It was fascinating to see Colby take initiative, just as it was interesting to see Marcus Orion’s reaction to it.

Colby seemed to be putting on a show for his friend, complete with hand motions and shouting that could be heard through the window. Cassandra raised an eyebrow, and Anj responded unapologetically, “His father taught him a Quidditch chant. It’s not very… polite.”

“The best sort aren’t,” she laughed, making a point of turning her back on the window and escaping to a chaise. Anj followed, albeit unwillingly, draping herself dramatically over one of the cushions.

“So.” The dark-haired witch rolled just her eyes up to glance at her friend. “You’re writing a book?”

“Or not writing, as the case may be. I’m having trouble getting started.”

“Oh, easy,” Anj waved her hand dismissively. “My best friend ever ever is Anjelica Lainey. She is the blue in my rainbow, the stripe on my skunk, the peppermint bean in my Bertie Botts bag. Of course.”

“Of course,” Cassandra responded with a matching grin.

***


My life is very clearly defined, to me, into befores and afters. Of all those defining moments, those points in my timeline where everything pivoted and my world was changed, the most important of these wasn’t the moment I knew I was in love or the birth of any of my children.

It was the moment I stepped onto the Hogwarts Express. Before Hogwarts and after Hogwarts. Before friendship and after friendship.

Before Anjelica Lainey. And then after.


***


Brennan left her in front of King’s Cross, giving Cassandra a distracted pat on the head that left her hair in a tangle. “Remember, squirt… if you don’t find your seat before the train leaves, the conductor will toss you off into a ditch when the train slows down.”

He’d been giving her good advice for the entire trip, and Cassandra tried desperately to remember them all. Advice about the train and the sorting and making friends and which professors to chat up. Advice on everything, really.

Her trunk was heavy, though, and she didn’t have time to worry about what would happen later. At the moment, she struggled through the terminal, politely rejecting the offers of assistance from several Muggles along the way. Not because they were Muggles so much as because she figured if Brennan thought she should do it herself, then he must be right. He was Brennan.

Somehow, she managed to get through the barrier, and Cassandra took a moment to stare at the gleaming crimson train. It was beautiful. The most beautiful thing ever, she decided, not only because the shining metal seemed to appear through the colored smoke as if by some special kind of magic, but beautiful because of all the things the train meant to people. Travel and adventure and learning, and to Cassandra, a chance to find people who seemed to be happy to have her around.

The train itself, however, was a challenge. The first step was too high for her to lift her trunk upon, and the 11-year-old perched on the top of her trunk and stared thoughtfully at the step. Here was a problem to solve. What were her options? Could she get rope? Would someone let her stand on their trunk? What if she tried her wand? Would someone notice?

WHAT IF SHE COULDN’T FIND HER ASSIGNED SEAT IN TIME?

“Oh, darling. Let me help you,” a butter-warm voice spilled over Cassandra. She tipped her head back to find a woman standing there. By appearance alone, the woman couldn’t be more unlike Cassandra’s own mother, with her birds’ nest hair and the itty bitty glasses dangling precariously from her nose. But she absolutely exuded an air of motherliness that even Cassandra could recognize, and she was tempted to throw her arms around the woman and have a little stress-cry.

“Do you need a hand?” The woman waggled her hand at Cassandra and her trunk, setting thick rows of beaded bracelets jangling on her wrist. Now that she really got a look at her, Cassandra wasn’t sure it was safe to be hugging such a stranger. She was certain her parents, at least, wouldn’t approve, nor would Brennan. The woman looked a bit mad, from her homemade robes to the wreath of flowers hiding in the nest of her hair.

But she was nice.

“I don’t know,” the girl answered carefully, sliding off the trunk. She shifted awkwardly from one foot to the other, clearly uneasy with this turn of events. “I think I can do it. Do they let you on the train if you need help?”

“Merlin, I hope so.” Over the woman’s shoulder, Cassandra spotted a girl just about her own age. She was small and as oddly dressed as the woman who had to be her mother. Did she have… silverware dangling from her robes?

With some flash and bustle, the woman quickly loaded Cassandra’s trunk on the train, and she found herself hustled aboard. Mothers were universally bossy! It didn’t matter if they were your mother or someone else’s.

For a reason she couldn’t identify, Cassandra hung out the door and waved at the woman as the train began its jerky first motions down the track. The other girl climbed over both their trunks into the first car, and Cassandra shoved their trunks in behind her.

“My brother graduated a couple of years ago,” Cassandra announced, tripping over her trunk and onto the bench. “He says there are assigned seats, but I don’t see any names. Let’s just sit here. They can’t chuck us off for not knowing.” Was it possible Brennan was wrong? Maybe they’d just changed things since he went to school.

The girl sprawled across the other bench and violently ripped one of the silver trinkets from her robe before dropping it on the floor. “Sounds good to me.” Another trinket ended up on the floor. “I’m Anjelica. Lainey. Most people just call me Lainey, though.” She tugged a handful of flowers from her hair and let petals drip from her fingertips like water.

“Cassandra Cooper. Cassie. My brothers call me Cece,” she performed the perfunctory introductions, but her attention was on all the bits coming off of Anjelica’s robes. Hopefully, she wouldn’t end up starkers in a few minutes.

She rescued one of the flowers that had escaped whole. It was a type she’d never seen before, perfectly shaped like a tiny teacup and the same vibrant blue color as her mother’s china set. Cassandra pressed the flower to her bottom lip in a kiss-sip.

“What are those things?” She pointed the flower at the growing pile of silver doodads on the floor between them.

“Good luck charms. My mum’s a nutter,” Anjelica threw another one down on the floor. “And that there is a bluebell.” She elaborated at the blank look Cassandra gave her. Cassandra was very familiar with the flowers that appeared in a cultured garden, complete with exotic plants exported from all over the world, but her knowledge of wildflowers was incomplete. “You know? Fairy thimbles?”

“It looks like a fairy teacup,” she whispered, tucking the flower into her own blond hair. Now they matched. The two 11-year-olds smiled shyly at each other across the train car. The day felt a bit less intimidating.
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Old 02-24-2010, 05:47 AM   #8 (permalink)
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......................but what if he *DID* fall in the fountain?!??!??!



Man. I don't even know where to start. Maybe with YOU are the BLUE in *MY* rainbow? Guh. hehe I don't even know if it's FAIR for me to be all FANGIRLY over this, but I'm going to ANYWAY.

It was worth the wait, but I sure am glad I pestered you to DO IT tonight. hehe


Inner!Old Lainey is having a nostalgic moment of regret about those spoons.... "Should have kept one.... just one..."

Bet she sends CJ to school on the first day with SPOONS on him. hehe

Guh. Okay. So. THe window... scene. And just the descriptions? Are good. You're epic, you KNOW I THINK SO. I like Rae being all, "THIS IS THE PROBLEM. How do I fix it?" on top of her TRUNK TOO.


.... I should stop before I say I *LIKE* EVERYTHING. haha

...

I did though. Mmf.
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Old 02-25-2010, 03:08 AM   #9 (permalink)


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Oooo you brought Lainey back too!!! OMG this is going to be getting soooo good. It's great already, but now I know... it's going to be awesome.
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Old 02-27-2010, 11:48 AM   #10 (permalink)
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GUH UH GUH.

For SO many reasons.

I mean I KNEW you were doing this, but I totally didn't click that you'd... like STARTED and stuffs. OMG.

*reads furiously* Its soo good Ern. You write so well, you inspire me to be a better writer and also to have FUN while writing because I totally get the impression that you enjoyed this.

I'd start fangirling and saying how Cassandra Rae was the best headperson ever but I don't want to offend your other inner headperson XD
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Old 03-01-2010, 02:28 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Eeeeeeeeeee! Amazing as ever, Miss Ern! I knew immediately at the 'mother' thing Lainey said that, it must mean she's a mum now too, and then the boys.. EEK. SO very cute! .. Sorry, got really excited. Now I wonder, who Colby's dad is. I remember something from back in Hogwarts maaaany terms ago that makes me think I know who no, not Lord Voldemortist or at least hope!

Anyways, oh gosh. It's sort of a KNOWN thing but seriously? Brennan is SO mean, poor Cassandra! And Lainey and her mum, that was surprising. I honestly didn't think that would be Lainey until her name came up. Though when she started talking, it shouldn't have even been a question to whether or not that was her.

I love how you manage to not only make the scenery of what you're writing come to life, but the friendships and bonds you're writing of as well. It's hard not to smile when reading Cassandra and Lainey's conversation. And lastly *writes too much*
Quote:
“Don’t be an idiot.”

“It runs in the family,”
^^ LOVE those lines. For some reason, I absolutely adore Alec.
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Old 03-28-2010, 12:23 AM   #12 (permalink)

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SPOILER!!: Response to quotes!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Eye Touz View Post
......................but what if he *DID* fall in the fountain?!??!??!

Man. I don't even know where to start. Maybe with YOU are the BLUE in *MY* rainbow? Guh. hehe I don't even know if it's FAIR for me to be all FANGIRLY over this, but I'm going to ANYWAY.

It was worth the wait, but I sure am glad I pestered you to DO IT tonight. hehe

Inner!Old Lainey is having a nostalgic moment of regret about those spoons.... "Should have kept one.... just one..."

Bet she sends CJ to school on the first day with SPOONS on him. hehe

Guh. Okay. So. THe window... scene. And just the descriptions? Are good. You're epic, you KNOW I THINK SO. I like Rae being all, "THIS IS THE PROBLEM. How do I fix it?" on top of her TRUNK TOO.


.... I should stop before I say I *LIKE* EVERYTHING. haha

...

I did though. Mmf.
I love your fangirling. I honestly can't wait for you to read this update just so you can get all excited again.

I bet Rae has the spoons. Ask her later.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Droo View Post
Oooo you brought Lainey back too!!! OMG this is going to be getting soooo good. It's great already, but now I know... it's going to be awesome.
How could we have a Rae story without Lainey, huh? Hehe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Celandine View Post
GUH UH GUH.

For SO many reasons.

I mean I KNEW you were doing this, but I totally didn't click that you'd... like STARTED and stuffs. OMG.

*reads furiously* Its soo good Ern. You write so well, you inspire me to be a better writer and also to have FUN while writing because I totally get the impression that you enjoyed this.

I'd start fangirling and saying how Cassandra Rae was the best headperson ever but I don't want to offend your other inner headperson XD
Hey, Tegz? I started it, ok?

Most of writing this fic is a LOT of fun, although as we talked about, rewriting RPed stuff is sometimes very hard. Luckily, Touz trusts me to edit her. Hehe. Or so I say.

You inspire ME, Tegz. Good thing we're both so inspiring.

Quote:
Originally Posted by D.A Forever View Post
Eeeeeeeeeee! Amazing as ever, Miss Ern! I knew immediately at the 'mother' thing Lainey said that, it must mean she's a mum now too, and then the boys.. EEK. SO very cute! .. Sorry, got really excited. Now I wonder, who Colby's dad is. I remember something from back in Hogwarts maaaany terms ago that makes me think I know who no, not Lord Voldemortist or at least hope!

Anyways, oh gosh. It's sort of a KNOWN thing but seriously? Brennan is SO mean, poor Cassandra! And Lainey and her mum, that was surprising. I honestly didn't think that would be Lainey until her name came up. Though when she started talking, it shouldn't have even been a question to whether or not that was her.

I love how you manage to not only make the scenery of what you're writing come to life, but the friendships and bonds you're writing of as well. It's hard not to smile when reading Cassandra and Lainey's conversation. And lastly *writes too much*

^^ LOVE those lines. For some reason, I absolutely adore Alec.
Colby Jack's daddy... is not a mystery, I promise. I just choose not to say (but I would tell you if you guessed right). He is someone you may know, if that's what you're wondering.

And yeah... Brennan is a jerkface, and the major uniting theme of this fic would have to be the relationship between Rae and Lainey, so I hope I caught the tone of that correctly.


I know there are some lurkers out there who are reading and not commenting *stares at you*. Just waving hello would be great to know you're there, although I would write this just for me (and clearly Touz... haha).



Chapter 3: The Mud Lotus


"I'm worried about Mo," Sophia draped herself across the tuft of grass beside Cassandra's blanket and stared up at her mother with an expectant air. She wasn't prone to dramatics, so statements such as this had a special sort of significance.

The three children and their mother had escaped from the house as soon as the weather was warm and the ground was dry. Or nearly dry. To be honest, it didn't matter where they went, the children were bound to find the only existing mud puddle on the entire estate.

"What about Mo?" Cassandra used the girls' pet name for their younger brother, knowing that no attempts on her part or Doyle’s had ever convinced the twins to call Marcus Orion anything but Mo. Perhaps when he was older and able to choose for himself, the boy would decide once and for all what he wanted people to call him.

"He's... I'm worried that he's stupid," Sophia drew herself up into a seated position, posture erect. Her blond hair was pulled into two severe pigtails, the part in her hair as mathematically precise as her father's often was. Even the spiral of her curls seemed measured out. Getting her ready in the morning had grown to be a tiring activity, and Cassandra left the girl to her own tireless ablutions.

Cassandra wrinkled her nose at her daughter. In spite of her best intentions, writing time was most certainly delayed for the day if they were going to have a whole conversation about Mo’s shortcomings. She knew that writing on this excursion had been a daydream anyway. "Your brother is NOT stupid."

"He is. A little," Sophia decided.

"I'm not worried 'bout Mo," Genevieve launched herself at her mother for a sticky hug and kiss before tucking and rolling across the grass. "He's definitely stupid. We should get rid of him and try again. New brother. New brother. NEW BROTHER."

She started a chant that involved both her fists and her heels, and Sophia politely chimed in with a clap. From his mud puddle, Marcus Orion remained entirely unconcerned. Or else the thick mud that covered him tip to tail was stopping up his ears, and he couldn't hear that his sisters wanted to get rid of him.

"Your brother is very clever," Cassandra insisted, leaning back on her hands and tilting her face to drink in the sun. Do not murder the twins. Do not. Do not.

"He can't read," Sophia held up one finger. "He can't speak any French. He can only count to twenty with his shoes off."

"He believes you when you tell him that mud pies are real pies," Genevieve piped up, and Cassandra gave her son a horrified look. Surely not...!

"Marcus Orion!" From across the glade, the little boy waved wildly at her, sending mud spattering the nearby trees. His grin was very white in his dirty face. Cassandra stuck out her tongue at him, and he responded in turn. His tongue... his tongue was black with mud.

"Don't you eat any more of that mud, Marcus Orion!"

A good mother would turn her severe expression on her daughters, who were giving each other gleeful and unrepentant looks. Instead, Cassandra scrubbed at a grass stain on her trousers.

Quietly, she continued their conversation from before. "I don't want you to call your brother stupid. Not everyone learns in the same ways or at the same pace. Just because he doesn't know the things you know..."

"The things we knew a full year younger," Sophia said, waving those extended fingers again to emphasize exactly how behind their younger brother was. "Tell the truth, Mummy. Is he adopted?"

The physical similarity between Marcus Orion and his father was unmistakable whenever the two were together, and Cassandra couldn't contain a snort of amusement. "He's not. He's just as much my baby as you two are."

Genevieve shoved the pixie-slash of blond hair from her forehead and grimaced at being called a baby. She wore her hair short, and it was a wonder it ever got brushed in her hurry to get moving in the morning. Of late, however, the child was making more of an effort, and her hair was longer than it had been in years, most likely a result of her overhearing her twin being called adorable by the doting Cooper grandparents.

If Sophia was adorable, then Genevieve must strive to also be adorable.

"What does it matter if he isn't clever in the way you two are?" Cassandra shrugged. Pointedly, she avoided looking at her son, who was now making a sickly splash-squelch-squish sound. Honestly, she had no desire to know what it was he was doing at the moment.

Instead, she pulled their picnic basket to her side and removed sandwiches wrapped in crisp wax paper. The girls accepted theirs with eager dirty fingers, and Marcus Orion gave a wail of despair at not being fed.

"If Mo is stupid, he might not be a Ravenclaw. Or even a Slytherin," Sophia informed her mother. She unfolded the paper around her sandwich and quickly folded up the edges to make herself a little box, balanced on one knee. The expression in her somber gray eyes said quite plainly that Sophia found it a fate worse than death to be improperly sorted.

Cassandra gave herself a mental head slap. After over a decade as the Headmistress at Hogwarts, it had never been more apparent to her that house divisions were pointless and often dangerous. It bred unhealthy competition along with the healthy, and it made children live up to stereotypes or expectations that were often unreasonable. And somewhere along the line, her own children had picked up those stereotypes.

She blamed Brennan. He had always been obsessed with being a Slytherin, to the degree of decorating his Ministry office in hunter green and silver filigree.

"What house would Alena have been in?" Genevieve's sandwich was already gone, disappearing in a few short bites. The child didn't have a voracious appetite, but simply had no interest in dawdling over food when there were better things to do.

More with the house discussion. It seemed obvious to Cassandra that they were due for one of those 'you can be whoever you want to be in spite of what the vintage apparel tells you' conversations.

"Hufflepuff, I suppose," she mused, taking a moment to seriously consider the question. The girls were devoted to their older 'sisters', a pair of teenagers the Branxtons had taken into their home less than two years ago. The Angelov sisters were Bulgarian, rescued by Cassandra just prior to her final retirement from the Auror special forces. Their mother was dead, and it broke Cassandra’s heart to leave them behind. Luckily, Doyle was a pushover for lost causes just like his wife.

The teens were officially Cassandra's wards, rather than being adopted so close to their coming-of-age, and she worked diligently to introduce them to British Wizarding society. The older sister, Alena, was 19 and training to become a translator. She was a sweet, tractable girl with a delicate face that matched her demeanor. The young woman was also intensely protective of her younger sister, to the degree that Cassandra was sure she had saved both girls more than once before finally leaving Bulgaria.

"Hufflepuff?" Both twins wrinkled their tiny snub noses, and if their snobbery hadn't been so offensive... it would have been hilarious. Sophia elaborated. "Hufflepuffs are duffers, Mum."

Duh. Clearly.

"You mustn't say that," Cassandra dropped the remaining sandwiches back into the basket and rose to her feet. Her wand was out in a moment, and with a flick, Marcus Orion was hovering over his mud puddle. "Now, my darling hellions. We are all going inside to take a nice long bath. And I don't want to hear anyone called stupid or duffers for the rest of the day."

"What about moron?"

"Or idiot?"

"Stupid?"

"Ignoramus!"

Sigh.

***


From the very beginning, the idea of houses did not make sense to me. Over time, it has grown to be somewhat abhorrent. And yet, in spite of my protestations, the school governors will always prefer time treasured traditions over a single woman's voice speaking of human paradigm shifts.

I view it thusly: How can a hat, clever as it may be, look at a child of 11 and anticipate who that child is destined to be at 17, let alone at 40? Why do we give so much power to a simple fold of cloth and brim? At the declaration of the Sorting Hat, we house children based on one defining characteristic, which soon becomes their only characteristic. Imagine the irreparable damage done to a child's ego if they can't live up to the standards set by their house mates, especially when they believe that being clever or noble and loyal is the only thing about them of note. We deny children the right to be well-rounded and whole, asking them to be just ONE thing. Imagine the richness children are denied by being expected to interact almost exclusively with those who are most like them. And imagine the ways we restrict and stunt their emotional and social development by allowing house-related biases and stereotypes to develop and then expecting children to fulfill those same beliefs.

But I digress. I was speaking of MY sorting, rather than sortings in general.


***


"So... what house do you want?" Cassie plaited and unplaited the honey blond hair at her temple, pretending unconcern. It was a VERY SERIOUS question, even if they all pretended that it wasn't. Where you ended up after sorting pretty much determined whether or not you could ever be important or make friends or be taken seriously.

Like... what if she was destined to be a Hufflepuff? She might as well just lock herself into her trunk and ship herself home. How much postage would that take?

Anjelica raised an eyebrow in an expression that Cassie very much wanted to emulate. Maybe when she was alone, she would be able to practice that face in the mirror. Although... chances were good the mirror would taunt her for it. Stupid talking mirrors always wanted to sound like your mother and tell you that your face would stick that way.

"My mum's a nutter," Anjelica sighed. "She wouldn't ever tell me what House she was in. She said it would 'fog my pathway' or some such craziness. I don't know. Mum says the hat is all knowing and that I shouldn't worry about it. Have I mentioned she's a nutter?"

"Once or twice." At least Anjelica’s mother showed up, right? And someone helped her carry in her trunk and kissed all over her face when the train was about to leave. Maybe her mother was a nutter, but she showed up. That counted for a lot.

The girls fell silent. Maybe... because Anjelica’s mother hadn't ever TOLD her which house was the good one, maybe she didn't know! Cassie dropped the braid she was working on to lean forward eagerly.

"My brother was in Slytherin, and he says it's the most respectable house." Hear that? Most. Respectable. Surely that was what Anjelica wanted too. "I think I want to be in Slytherin too."

"Maybe you shouldn't worry about your brother," the other girl said softly. "Mum says to always be your own person."

Cassie's eyes went wide. What was this sacrilege? Not listening to Brennan was like ignoring the wise words of Merlin and the sonorous ones of Circe, all at the same time. It just wasn't DONE.

"I love my brother," she protested, although it sounded weak to her own ears. Why was she defending Brennan? Anjelica didn't KNOW him, so she didn't know that he was perfect. She'd see. "I guess... it might be good to be in Ravenclaw?"

From the pile of discarded silver bobs and bits on the floor, Anjelica fished out a rather ugly charm that looked like a spoon that had been overheated and melted into puddle of burnt metal. "Here. For luck. May you get into the house that best suits you."

Cassie fastened the charm to the front of her robes before settling back into her seat. "I wouldn't be a very good Gryffindor, I don't think. I'm not brave. You seem brave." Only... she didn't want Anjelica to be a Gryffindor either. If she was in a different house, maybe they wouldn't be allowed to be friends, and Cassie desperately wanted to stay close to the only person she'd met at Hogwarts.

"I'm not," Anjelica insisted. "I'm not brave."

Silence again, although it wasn't the scary kind that Cassie felt she needed to fill up with clever words. It was sort of comfortable. They weren't either of them brave, which meant they could probably stay together.

"Do you... do you know a lot of people going to Hogwarts?" Cassie asked. She touched the good luck charm with one gentle finger. Maybe Anjelica already had lots of friends.

The other girl tilted her head, her dark hair sliding across her forehead as she gave Cassie a skeptical look. "I live a very, very sheltered life. Interesting, I suppose, but sheltered. So that's a no."

"We should be friends, then," Cassie said adamantly. "Because then there's already someone we know and there's already someone to sit with at dinner." Meeting people seemed like such a hard thing. Wasn't it a grand idea to walk into Hogwarts with a friend? And then maybe the Sorting Hat thing would know that she had a friend and would keep them together.

"We should. But, if you get there and you find better people to hang out with, I'll understand. Mum says that it happens and to not worry with it. So, no worries." Anjelica smiled at Cassie, but it seemed to the blond girl that she wasn't really pleased by the idea. "I'd like to be friends though."

Cassandra Cooper was a loyal little soul, even without the expression on Anjelica’s face. She couldn't imagine there being better people at the school, or so many better people that she wouldn't have time for Anjelica Lainey.

"You'll always be my first friend, though. And that's important."
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Old 03-28-2010, 01:08 AM   #13 (permalink)



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I.. guh. I can't put into words really how much I like this. LOVE this.

I especially like Rae's own writing in this chapter. That voice is really great.

And I have to say, Anjelica and Cassie (I like the differentiating with the names based on time period, stylistically, too!), got me all melty.

Quote:
"You'll always be my first friend, though. And that's important."
Yeah. Just, yeah. *warm fuzzies*

Thus ends my incoherent loving of your chapter.
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Old 03-29-2010, 03:00 AM   #14 (permalink)


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O M G...

I am tired so I won't post a full description till tomorrow or the day after. But I loved the chapter.
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Old 03-30-2010, 12:55 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Those Twins are so good. If they're that concerned over lil Mo, then CJ must have no hope in their eyes.

Quote:
"What about moron?"

"Or idiot?"

"Stupid?"

"Ignoramus!"

Sigh.
hehe. Hehehe. Lainey thinks that they are both CLEARLY witty and going towards .. well... you know. Their House. Don't tell Rae. Shh.


What was this sacrilege? <<< LUlllz. Man. Brennan. Oh Ern,this is just SO GOOD. It's my favorite. And you know.... I think this is your best writing. I do.
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Old 03-30-2010, 11:43 AM   #16 (permalink)


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So now that I'm awake... I must say I love reading about what is happening with Cassandra now, I adore those kids, they are precious, but I think I love learning about her past almost as much. So I guess I'm saying I REALLY like your format.
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Old 03-30-2010, 11:54 AM   #17 (permalink)

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Wow. This is great! :O You're awesome Ern!!!

I'm loving this story.. really.

It's really nice to know the story of Professor Rae especially for members who didn't had the chance to know her.
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Old 04-12-2010, 06:53 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Cassirin View Post
I know there are some lurkers out there who are reading and not commenting *stares at you*. Just waving hello would be great to know you're there, although I would write this just for me (and clearly Touz... haha).
=O

You hash caught me! -hides behind everyone else-
I luffff your storeh. ^^


Quote:
"What about moron?"

"Or idiot?"

"Stupid?"

"Ignoramus!"

Sigh.
LOL! Love this, especially the litle sigh at the end.

Quote:
"You'll always be my first friend, though. And that's important."
I would say it is. *pause*


Well-written, and all-around enjoyable, Erin.
Update, when you can.

=]

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Old 04-12-2010, 10:47 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Okay, so I read this chapter ^^ a WHILE ago. But I was tired and didn't finish, and did not comment until.. now. But I DID finish!

Ooh, I want to take a guess at Colby's dad. But now I'm thinking I'll be wrong GAH! Is it. . Alec? I remember reading a thing or two through those terms with Rae and Lainey at Hogwarts. His name came up, but it's a vague memory. *crosses fingers*

And for what it counts, I think Lainey and Rae's friendship pretty much comes alive in your writing.

Now on to comments from Chapter 3!:
Quote:
Her blond hair was pulled into two severe pigtails, the part in her hair as mathematically precise as her father's often was. Even the spiral of her curls seemed measured out. Getting her ready in the morning had grown to be a tiring activity, and Cassandra left the girl to her own tireless ablutions.
This also reminded me of the girls' baby/toddler days at Hogwarts. Particularly of when one of the girls had come to the end-of-term feast with a book nearly bigger than herself?
Quote:
"Your brother is NOT stupid."

"He is. A little," Sophia decided.
Aw, poor boy. And Poor Rae!
Quote:
"I'm not worried 'bout Mo," Genevieve launched herself at her mother for a sticky hug and kiss before tucking and rolling across the grass. "He's definitely stupid. We should get rid of him and try again. New brother. New brother. NEW BROTHER."
LOL! *cuddlesMo*
Quote:
"I'm not," Anjelica insisted. "I'm not brave."
Rae and Lainey not brave? I can't even begin to imagine that.

Over all, AWESOME chapter! Especially Rae's writing for her book, that really got me thinking, too.

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Old 04-27-2010, 03:09 AM   #20 (permalink)

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This fic is making me all nostalgic. I miss all my old school charries. *sniff* Your writing has improved so much, Ern, and that is truly saying something considering how well you have ALWAYS written. But I just wanted to let you know that I am truly impressed and glad to see you coming into your own in the writing arena.
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Old 04-29-2010, 04:38 AM   #21 (permalink)

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SPOILER!!: Quotey stuffs
Quote:
Originally Posted by AmbiguouslyMe View Post
I.. guh. I can't put into words really how much I like this. LOVE this.

I especially like Rae's own writing in this chapter. That voice is really great.

And I have to say, Anjelica and Cassie (I like the differentiating with the names based on time period, stylistically, too!), got me all melty.

Yeah. Just, yeah. *warm fuzzies*

Thus ends my incoherent loving of your chapter.
You are adorable and are encouraged to continue on with your warm fuzzies and melting. Anjelica and Cassie... I'm not really sure when they became Anj and Cassandra (although Anj insists on calling her Rae, soooo... yeah) became their names. We'll have to wait and see.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Eye Touz View Post
Those Twins are so good. If they're that concerned over lil Mo, then CJ must have no hope in their eyes.


No, they're BAD. SO BAD. But anyway... I think they put up with CJ. He's like a mini Mo to them. Brother-material.

Quote:
hehe. Hehehe. Lainey thinks that they are both CLEARLY witty and going towards .. well... you know. Their House. Don't tell Rae. Shh.


What was this sacrilege? <<< LUlllz. Man. Brennan. Oh Ern,this is just SO GOOD. It's my favorite. And you know.... I think this is your best writing. I do.
I think you're right. They'll want to be TOGETHER, and I think they fit there best.

Awww. And you've read a lot of my stuff, so that means a lot from you

Quote:
Originally Posted by Droo View Post
So now that I'm awake... I must say I love reading about what is happening with Cassandra now, I adore those kids, they are precious, but I think I love learning about her past almost as much. So I guess I'm saying I REALLY like your format.
I like it too, although sometimes it gets in the way. Like in this next update, BOTH scenes were supposed to be much much longer. Guess this is a TBC.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cedricdiggory View Post
Wow. This is great! :O You're awesome Ern!!!

I'm loving this story.. really.

It's really nice to know the story of Professor Rae especially for members who didn't had the chance to know her.
I think you would have liked her, and she would have liked YOUR charrie . Thank you so much for reading. Hope you continue to enjoy it.

[QUOTE=SenoritaMaxie;9257928] =O

You hash caught me! -hides behind everyone else-
I luffff your storeh. ^^
[/color]

Ooooh. So glad you're reading this one, Maxie! YOu're so prolific and stuff, I didn't know you had time to reaaaaaaaaad FFs TOO.

Quote:
LOL! Love this, especially the litle sigh at the end.


I would say it is. *pause*


Well-written, and all-around enjoyable, Erin.
Update, when you can.

=]

Will do, Maxie. I'm on it right now!

Quote:
Originally Posted by D.A Forever View Post
Ooh, I want to take a guess at Colby's dad. But now I'm thinking I'll be wrong GAH! Is it. . Alec? I remember reading a thing or two through those terms with Rae and Lainey at Hogwarts. His name came up, but it's a vague memory. *crosses fingers*

And for what it counts, I think Lainey and Rae's friendship pretty much comes alive in your writing.
You're not wrong. Hehehe.

And THANK you. That relationship between them is so real to me after playing Rae so long and I'm glad to know that other people can feel it too.

Quote:
This also reminded me of the girls' baby/toddler days at Hogwarts. Particularly of when one of the girls had come to the end-of-term feast with a book nearly bigger than herself?
That would be Sophia. She's all Doyle, that one is. Can't figure out where Vivi came from, though. And don't worry about Mo. He'll be fine. Tortured by his sisters, but fine.

Quote:
Rae and Lainey not brave? I can't even begin to imagine that.

Over all, AWESOME chapter! Especially Rae's writing for her book, that really got me thinking, too.

Hehe. She's a thinker, that 'Claw is. Never really sure what she wants to say, but I'm never surprised when she up and says it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Biochemkris View Post
This fic is making me all nostalgic. I miss all my old school charries. *sniff* Your writing has improved so much, Ern, and that is truly saying something considering how well you have ALWAYS written. But I just wanted to let you know that I am truly impressed and glad to see you coming into your own in the writing arena.
Aww. *nuzzles you* Thank you, Kris. Like I said to Touz, you've read all my stuff, so that actually means a lot from you. Don't let me steer our girls wrong, and one of these days I'll attempt Doyle's voice.




I keep thinking that I KNOW there are characters I could be mentioning along here (especially a certain couple vaguely mentioned in here). If you feel like you want/deserve a mention... let me know.




Chapter 4: Queen Anne's Lace



From the moment Cassandra set eyes on the Angelov sisters, they belonged to her. She had seen other children in her work, hollow-eyed and sad ones, that had broken her heart over and over, but these girls were more than just wingless, wounded things. In the fierce way Alena watched over her sister and the tireless way she juggled stories and songs to keep Natalya’s attention elsewhere, in Natalya’s determinedly cheerful demeanor, in the manner of both sisters as they moved in a sort of well-practiced dance of caring for each other, Cassandra saw herself and Anj. If Natalya’s blithe light-heartedness and Alena’s solemnity were foreign elements to that dance, it was the steps themselves that were familiar.

Days after meeting the girls, Cassandra drew word pictures of the beautiful Branxton estate for both girls, describing their new home down to the lampshades and glossing over some of the more harrowing details of the wild children inhabitants. A day after that, she was owling Doyle to come help her smuggle the girls out of Sofia. Less than a week after meeting the Angelovs, Cassandra brought them home to England, but they had smuggled into her heart long before that arrival.

It was no burden to have them move into the sprawling manor. Cassandra’s inheritance from her own parents was meager, but the generous pension as a retired Auror and the legacy left by her first husband Alexander Rae created a cushion of funds on the already sizable Branxton estate. They claimed chores without asking, enamored themselves with the children immediately, and tried to take up as little space as possible in a home with space to spare.

It wasn’t always easy, especially in the early days. Natalya clung to Doyle in a way that made the society matrons mutter, and Alena was a little block of ice with everyone but the children. For Marcus Orion especially, Alena was butter-warm and willing to laugh, but for everyone else, she was quiet and cold. A beautiful, silent addition to every dinner party and social event to which Cassandra dragged her.

Cassandra considered the invitation to the next party, a small affair to celebrate the engagement of a young couple the Branxtons knew, as she stared at Alena’s slight figure reflected in the mirror at Malkin’s. The girl’s face was empty, a sign that she had retreated into herself. Cassandra had noticed this was the typical Alena-response to activities such as being fitted for a new dress, anything where she had to be touched and talked about, prodded and considered. If there was a way to draw her out of herself, Cassandra was yet to find it.

“You’re mad at me,” Anj’s voice interrupted her reverie, and Cassandra glanced at where her dearest friend sat cross-legged on the floor with Colby reclining in her lap. Dress shopping was about the last thing Anj would ever agree to do, but she wanted time with Cassandra immediately. She had news to share.

Cassandra turned her attention from Alena in an effort to focus on Anj again. Why did her attention keep wandering so willfully back to the dark-haired girl when her closest friend was trying to talk to her?

“No, not mad.” Both women reached for a handful of pins on the floor that had caught Colby’s interest. The little boy gave his mother a sulky karate chop for depriving him of the shiny. “I think I’m jealous.”

“Jealous,” Anj scoffed. She handed Colby his dinosaur toy and winced as the creature attacked her knee. Real biting teeth weren’t as charming as the toy manufacturers thought. “You can come back too, Rae. Come back to Hogwarts with me.”

Ah, Hogwarts. Wasn’t it selfish of her to miss the place when she had abandoned it less than five years ago in order to go adventuring?

Or at least, that was how it looked to the outside world. Cassandra Rae, bored with wiping the snot noses of other people’s brats and hungry once again for the spotlight, had deserted the school when her leadership was needed to go traipsing through the Europe on a self-declared mission of mercy with the blessing of her-brother-the-Minister. Once Brennan Cooper had been ousted, the Ministry denied association with Rae-Branxton and her team.

That wasn’t exactly how it had gone. Cassandra had been sad to leave the school, but she felt the place was safe and her skills better used elsewhere. Brennan’s insistence on conducting her life was thwarted when she refused an appointment in his administration and then went behind his back to lead a team into the field. To save face, he publicly recognized her efforts as his humanitarian liaison, and his wife published glowing reports in her newspaper. She had never had the Ministry’s true blessing, and once Brennan was gone and Reagan Taylor had called her home with typical good-humored grace, Cassandra found she was ready to do exactly that.

“They don’t need me,” Cassandra studied the elaborate lace trimming Alena’s new dress. It resembled a wildflower she remembered from her youthful jaunts with Anj, although she couldn’t recall the name of it. Something pretentious for a weed. “The young man teaching Defense is accomplished in several fields, and the current Headmaster performed admirably last term.”

Anj sighed, although it wasn’t clear if Cassandra was stressing her patience or if it was Colby, chewing on a hank of her hair and quietly murmuring to himself in gobbledygook. “I’m not sure I like that young man. Heard he made my history class all complicated and snooty brainiac stuff, and now he’s moved on to yours. If you wanted to come back…”

“But I don’t,” Cassandra said simply, not looking at her best friend. “I really don’t.”

***


Hogwarts is as many things as there are alumni.

To some, it is a prison, a leaving from real life to a place that is apart. It is something to get through until one can emerge triumphant on the other side.

To others, it is the destination. You are not really yourself until your feet cross the threshold. Away from families and the labels of childhood, some students see Hogwarts as the place where they can write their own story and decide on their own terms who they desire to be. For those some, Hogwarts is a home in itself, maybe more real than their childhood home ever was.

I didn’t know what Hogwarts meant to me until I left and came back again.


***


In a small boat sailing across the giant lake at Hogwarts, two little girls huddled together. The night was dark in spite of the sliver of moon perched low on the castle walls, and the small waves that lipped over the side of the boat came perilously close to dousing their socks. Horrors!

“Don’t worry,” Anjelica whispered, leaning forward so that the dark shapes in the boats around them couldn’t hear. “Mum says that worrying will only make it worse. And I hear the food is good.” Somehow, the thought of a hot meal on the other side of this lake was comforting.

The boats shot beneath a rock ledge, mere centimeters above the girls’ heads and Cassie was grateful for the first time in her life that she was small for her age. Imagine some of those bigger first years getting knocked on the head before getting sorted. Embarrassing, that. The boat emerged from a short tunnel into a broad cavern, big enough to fit several manor houses side-by-side.

Cassie and Anjelica clung to each other as they climbed out of the boat, and then continued to hold tightly as they climbed a flight of stairs to encounter a severe looking witch with a hairy upper lip. Perhaps it was the stress of the situation or simply that Cassie had an inappropriate sense of humor, but the sight of the witch with a mustache gave her a fit of giggles, and the child had to press her face against Anjelica’s shoulder blade to keep from laughing out loud.

The speech was disappointing. They simply had to put on a hat and then go sit at their new house table. Easy and painless. What had her brother been on about? Brennan wasn't wrong, not ever, so they must have changed things since he attended. Wait until she told him.

On the other hand, the Great Hall was impressive, especially after emerging from the dark corridors leading up from the cave at the bottom of the castle. Glittering candles seemed to outnumber the stars that appeared in the ceiling overhead. It was almost enough to distract Cassie from the long tables crowded with students packed elbow-to-elbow.

“It’s like every meal is a picnic,” Anjelica whispered, releasing Cassie's hand as they were shuffled into a single line. Her voice came right at ear-level, and it was a comfort to know her only friend at Hogwarts was still so close. “Just wish everyone wasn’t staring at us.”

Cassie watched the first few people as they were called to sit on the stool for sorting, studying every move they made. “Let’s pretend we’re famous, and they’re staring at us because they’re in awe,” she suggested, giving Anjelica an overly cheery smile before taking the dais herself. Cassie shoved her shoulders back, flipped her hair, and climbed the steps. At the top, she grinned her "I'm Brennan Cooper and you adore me" smile and waved both hands at the crowd.

As the hat settled over her eyes, Cassie slumped on the stool and breathed deeply. The hat reminded her of the old books in her grandparents’ library, both from the distinctive smell and the way the ancient fabric crackled like aged paper across her forehead. She spent a moment trying to catalog the scent, not quite mildew yet sneeze-inducing, before a rasp sounded in her ear.

“Clever girl, following the smells back through the years. Little thing like you can’t count that high,” the voice seemed awfully loud, but it didn’t take long for Cassie to figure it out: it was the HAT. Talking to her. “You want to be like your brother... but you want to stay with your friend more. Hmm. I think we’ll meet again, Cassandra Cooper. Ravenclaw.”

With a very unladylike whoop, Cassie launched herself down the stairs toward her new house table. In mid-step, she paused and swung back around to where Anjelica still waited in line. “It’s easy. Dare you to blow kisses.”

Within the circle of her hug, she felt Anjelica’s posture stiffen. Challenge accepted. Cassie gave her a cheeky little grin and escaped to her table. Maybe Anjelica said she wasn’t brave, but she sure looked the part as she climbed the stairs toward her own sorting.

When the hat shouted Ravenclaw again, Cassie scrambled onto the bench, waving her school cap wildly in the air and screaming and stomping along with the rest of her house. Not ladylike at ALL. She could only grin as her new friend blew bold kisses at the boys at the end of the table.

“Ravenclaw is cool,” she informed a burly older boy sitting next to her. He jerked away from her, obviously put off by her lack of manners. Cassie couldn’t be bothered at the moment. “That’s my best friend, Anj.”

The older boy shifted down the bench to escape her attentions, and Cassie slipped back down to her seat. “Look! I got you a seat,” she pointed at the now empty bench until Anj stepped over the seat and sat down. She might have said more, but the old man at the front of the Great Hall began to speak. In their excitement, the girls were oblivious.
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Old 04-29-2010, 12:16 PM   #22 (permalink)

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Hey dude! I love the update! And, as keeper of the History of SS Hogwarts (sounds like a boat LOL) I'd just like to remind you (in case you didn't know already, though I'm sure you do) that Theodore Puppington of Gryffindor was a 3rd year when the girls came to Hogwarts. Also, don't forget that Thomas Duskurk came to teach at Hogwarts from 42-47, which would have been the girls' 4th year. He was the Defense prof and since they were going to be aurors, he might need to have an appearance (though, I suppose he'll get mention at some point anyway considering all the trouble he caused when Rae was teaching and HM ).

Um... other than that I really need to update that timeline in the HaH to include details of all the other staff so people can get a better idea of who attended school with whom. Maybe I'll find more former staff for them to know.
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Old 04-30-2010, 03:04 AM   #23 (permalink)


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From the moment Cassandra set eyes on the Angelov sisters, they belonged to her.
Wibbles, that's sooooo cute.

Quote:
In the fierce way Alena watched over her sister and the tireless way she juggled stories and songs to keep Natalya’s attention elsewhere, in Natalya’s determinedly cheerful demeanor, in the manner of both sisters as they moved in a sort of well-practiced dance of caring for each other, Cassandra saw herself and Anj.
I never thought of that, but I can totally see it.

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“You can come back too, Rae. Come back to Hogwarts with me.”
DO IT!!!! DOOOO IT!!!!!!

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“Let’s pretend we’re famous, and they’re staring at us because they’re in awe,”
OMG! this made me lol !!!

I loved this update!
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Old 04-30-2010, 03:34 AM   #24 (permalink)
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*facepalm*


That voice in my head is SO EMBARRASSED that.... you told the part about the kisses. Gawd. She says Rae's memory is graying, like her hair. But she's mean, so don't listen to her.


Man. Like, I already was well aware of what an epic character Rae and such was, right? Right. Established. But somehow READING it like THIS is all different and depth-y-er (depthier?) and I just straight up LIKE IT.


And then you capture my nutball's awkward, mouth-spouting, brave-but-not's-ness.... like YOU KNOW HER. And you do. You do. Lullz. Man.

COLBY JACK's karate chop. Gawd. Rotten. *swoon*


hold on. THere was something else, too.

OH OH. HEHE. Clara and Bren shoutouts!I love Brenny. SO one of my favorites of yours. SOOOO is. WOOOO! Man. Clara tells me that every word of that article caused her pain. But, shhhh, don't tell. Not common knowledge.

This is good, Ern. This is good.
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Old 04-30-2010, 02:49 PM   #25 (permalink)



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Love. love love love.

And now, an attempt at coherent comments:

I love that these are characters I don't know, because when I read an update, I feel like I do. You really give a sense of who they each are as distinct beings, but not in a way that's simply expository. It's more... I don't know, evocative? I guess what I'm saying is I don't see the scenes and the characters so much as I feel them. It's really well done.

I feel TEASED, by the way, by the 'I didn’t know what Hogwarts meant to me until I left and came back again." Cause, great, Rae, you know. I'd like to.

I already told you about Preston's great great disapproval of such antics at the feast, but it still amuses me. *snicker* I am enjoying getting to know the characters that mine would have known.

Quote:
Cassie couldn’t be bothered at the moment. “That’s my best friend, Anj.”
I love children. Best friends in a matter of hours.
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