(a/n: Disclaimer: I'm sure that you've read it dozens of times before, but what the hey, who cares? I obviously don't own Harry Potter or any related elements of the craze begun by the master of muses; J.K. Rowling.)
Chapter One: Prologue and the Farewell Party
It looked like it was going to be another quiet night on the streets of Columbus. The warm mid-summer air left the scent of rain throughout the town, as it often did in the rainy part of the year. People were just settling down for bed as the night grew heavy. The tiny town wasn't expecting any visitors, but quietly, a few scattered figures in black converged on a small side street and started moving toward a single house on an unspoken command. The figures stopped and turned to the only house with lights still on in the windows. They waited. One by one, the windows snapped to black. When the last light was extinguished, the black apparitions made their way to the front porch. As if on cue, the door creaked open to admit the leading figure who did not hesitate.
If someone had happened along the street at that time, they would have noticed odd things happening from deep in the house. A sudden shrill scream pierced the night, and then a blinding green flash shone through the windows. Again, there was another flash of light and then complete silence. A child wailed from the house, and it too was silenced followed by a flaming red light. The figures once again appeared in the door way, leaving as quietly as they came. Most of them dispersed into the night, and two remained still on the porch. A few words were muttered forcefully to each other, and while one disappeared, the other mumbled a few words normal people would not recognize.
A thin green strand began unwinding seemingly out of nowhere and rose to the sky. It floated there for a moment before becoming a cloud of sickly green sparkles. The cloud suddenly took a form in the black night and the lone black figure nodded in finality. It too, melted into the night.
Columbus was left with a disturbing silence. It was not like the silence of any previous nights, for a different feeling was left in the air. The troubled state was caused by the image of the floating skull with a serpent winding out of its mouth.
Fourteen years later...
This is the last day I'll be living here, Cassy thought calmly to herself. She shivered silently even though it was the middle of summer. August 31st, to be exact. She lowered the fan a little so it would blow away from her. The curly hazlenut-haired girl with honey- colored eyes had been staring out her bay window for over an hour, musing and collecting her thoughts for the chaos that would begin tomorrow. She was leaving the next day, to pretty much begin a new life. A life that hopefully held more expectations than her old one. She hated dwelling on the past; it brought back mostly hurtful memories. Cassy had lived in foster homes and orphanages her whole life. She didn't meet many new friends because of the traveling around between families, but that changed when she turned eleven. You see, Cassy wasn't a normal fifteen year old. She was also a witch.
All her life, Cassy thought that she was just a rotten part of the minority. Her parents were murdered by Voldemort when he was on his killing streak. No foster home wanted her for very long. She didn't make many magical friends because she was always moving. Her life did a one-eighty turn when she received her letter from CAWW, accepting her into the Columbus Academy for Witches and Wizards. Cassy couldn't have been happier. She made dozens of new friends, and the family she had been living with was glad to get rid of her. It wasn't that she was a royal brat, but that she didn't fit in. Since she was a baby, she had been cursed by Voldemort's followers at the time they had killed her parents. The curse was meant to kill her, but somehow she had been saved and the effects weren't as horrible as they were intended. Cassy had been left with a curse that, without burning her, engulfed her left hand completely in flames.
She tugged absentmindedly at the strap that buckled her glove tight. Cassy didn't remember how she got the glove, but she had been wearing it all her life. It was magical, and it kept the flames subdued under the black leather. She had to wear it or else the flames could get out of control. Out of control like last time...
Cassy jumped out of her seat and raced to the phone.
"Hello?" She answered breathlessly. The noise had scared the crap out of her.
"WHERE ARE YOU!" bellowed a well-known voice. Cassy shot a look at the clock. 7:30.
"Oh, Merlin! I didn't even notice! I'm so sorry Erin, I'll be right over!"
"You had better be, we're all waiting!"
"Okay, see-ya, bye!"
Cassy picked up her luggage scattered all around her room and heaved it downstairs to the family room. Cassy had quite a task the past week packing up all of her magical belongings. She wasn't coming back to this house, and she hoped she had everything she needed for start of term the next day at Hogwarts.
Cassy looked around the room and sighed.
"John?" She called.
"What!" was the reply.
"I'm leaving now, just to let you know!"
A tired face poked in the doorway. "Well, have fun."
"Can you tell Maggie I said bye?"
"Yeah." He left.
"Thanks," she said, and then muttered under her breath, "I guess."
Cassy had been living with John and Maggie Mullins for about six months, an old muggle couple that only cared about the support money that came in for Cassy. The two weren't that surprised when they found Cassy was a witch, and probably wouldn't even wonder what had happened the last six months when the Department of Magic came tomorrow to erase their memories. The Department of Magic was also to make sure the house was free from all wizarding things, and to take their house off the Floo network.
Cassy picked up the decorative teapot on the mantelpiece filled with Floo Powder. Somehow she managed to get a hold of all her other belongings too. She took a pinch, set the teapot back, thought better of it, picked it back up, and said "Erin's house" as she threw in the powder. Green flames rose and she stepped in unfaltering and braced herself for the ride. She felt a strong breeze of warm air and heard a 'whooshing' noise as she squinted through the gray haze of blurred fire-places.
Cassy fell through the last fire-place and spilled all of her packages in front of her.
"Ow!" She looked up at all the now silent faces above her. "Quite an entrance, huh?"
Everyone burst out laughing and helped Cassy to her feet.
"Jeez, you always were one for late appearances, huh?" said a tall blond boy to her left.
"Shut up Matt, that's the last thing I need to hear, your voice!"
"Ohhh, that hurt, but you know you'll miss me this year."
"Maybe..." Cassy giggled as she placed the teapot on the mantle.
"Oh come on!"
"Yeah, don't worry, I'll owl you every chance I get, and everyone else, too."
"You had better!" said Cassy's red-headed friend Stephanie.
"Oh my gosh, Steph, I'm gonna miss you so much!" She hugged her and looked around at all of her friends.
"I'm gonna miss all of you so much!"
"Okay, okay, break it up, tear-shedding is for tonight, now we party!"
Cassy's without-a-doubt best friend walked in the room. The tall girl was often called Snow White, because of her porcelain white skin, long raven black hair, and natural ruby-colored lips. She jokingly pulled Cassy by the ear.
"And you had better have a good reason why are you late to your own farewell party!"
"Come on Erin, I was daydreaming, you know me!"
"Oh fine, I guess I can forgive you this time." She smiled mischievously. "Guess what Mom bought today? Wizard Crackers! Lets go!"
Cassy, Erin, and all of their friends helped move Cassy's luggage to a corner of the room before heading into the dining room.
Cassy and Erin were leaving the next day for Hogwarts, and Erin was holding a party at her house to say good-bye to their friends before they left for a long term at the British school. The two girls were the only ones leaving from CAWW to go to Hogwarts since CAWW had to shut down. Most of their friends were attending another closer school in Canada. Cassy was the reason that CAWW shut down, and because of that, she felt like she needed to go some where far away.
Almost fifteen of Cassy's and Erin's closest friends had shown up at Erin's house. Erin and her family lived in a tiny house on the edge of a small wizarding community. It wasn't hard to fit everyone in the house though, because Erin's mom had bewitched it for that night so everyone would fit. Erin and her mom were half elves, so they were adept at using simple spells around the house.
At the time, Erin was fixing an earring on one of her long, pointed ears that she had just received as a farewell gift.
"That is so you, Erin," Cassy said as she bit into a slice of hobberry pie.
"Ya think? Well, I know I love it! Thank you so much, Sara!" She gave the girl sitting next to her at the long wooden table a hug. "I'll think of you every time I wear it!"
Erin flicked her long black hair over her shoulder. "Well, I guess its getting pretty late, and we all have a big day tomorrow."
"Awww, do we have to go now, Erin?" Jokingly whined their friend Jake.
"We would let you stay for the sleepover too, but, lets see now, you're a guy and your parents Erin's mom might have a problem with that," said Cassy with an innocent look on her face.
"Okay, but remember what you said about those owls!"
Cassy and Erin said their final good-byes as everyone filed through the front door amid tears and hugs.
"Well, that's it, I guess." Cassy smiled sadly. A hint of mischief flashed on her face. "Wanna go play Exploding Snap?"
It was almost twelve when Erin's mom knocked on the bedroom door. She poked her head in. With a thick Irish accent she said;
"Girls? I think you should get to bed now. You're going to have a very long day tomorrow, and you're going to need your rest."
"Sure mom. G'night!"
"Good night, Mrs. Loalia."
"Good night, girls. I'll wake you two up in the morning, so you don't have to set the alarm." She shut the door behind her.
"Thank Merlin, I hate waking up to that thing." Erin shot an icy stare at her metal clock, which was notorious for squawking like a bird and laying eggs in places where Erin was soon to sit on.
"I wonder what time your mom's gonna wake us up."
"I dunno, but the Apparation Conductor comes at ten."
Cassy started unrolling her sleeping bag. "Tomorrow is going to be so exciting, I'm so nervous!"
"So am I! I truly can't believe we were accepted into Hogwarts. I mean, a whole continent away!" Erin flopped down onto her bed. "Just think of all the guys there!"
They both sighed. They made eye contact and giggled madly.
"And the accents, do you realize that we'll probably be the only ones with American accents," Erin said.
"It'll definitely be different." Cassy looked at her gloved hand. She couldn't suppress a depressing sigh as she said; "I wonder what people will think of me."
Erin stopped flipping through her Teen Witch magazine and looked up. She said seriously; "You'll be fine, Cassy. You've made a ton of friends since you've enrolled at CAWW. There's no reason that you shouldn't be Ms. Popularity at Hogwarts."
"I know, but its just, I can't get over my childhood though. I didn't fit in at all when I was little. Going through such a big change again is like going through it all over again. Because of this."
Cassy held up her gloved hand.
"Cassy, you found so many people just like you when you started at CAWW. Heck, remember all the teasing about my ears? There's no reason that Hogwarts shouldn't have a couple of unique cases at Hogwarts just like us."
"'Unique?' You sound like a therapist." Cassy giggled.
"Well, if you would stop sounding just like a patient, I wouldn't either!"
Both girls collapsed into laughter. They were silenced by a banging on the wall from Erin's mom. Erin stuck out her tongue and went back to flipping through her magazine.
"What are you wearing tomorrow?" She asked.
"I dunno," Cassy replied. "Do you mind if I take off my glove? I need to stretch my hand."
"No, go ahead," Erin replied, putting down the magazine. Cassy proceeded to unbuckle the strap and pull the glove off. Erin gave a little gasp.
Flames immediately ignited from Cassy's wrist to her fingertips. A soft whooshing sound was heard and Cassy splayed out her fingers in front of her. Cassy cracked her knuckles and shook out the kinks. Tiny sparks flew everywhere.
"Sorry, sorry!" Cassy brushed the embers off the pillow case with her right hand.
"That's fine," Erin mumbled, mesmerized by the fire. "No matter how many times I see it, I still don't believe it. Are you sure it doesn't hurt at all?"
"Not a bit. Not any part of me," Cassy added, rubbing her right arm with her hand. Her arm looked completely unscathed.
"Its just anything else that I touch," Cassy said, picking up a piece of scrap paper and letting it burn in her hand over a wastebasket. She made sure the embers were out before putting her glove back on.
"Your mom's right. We really should get to sleep."
"All right, see you in the morning, Cassy."
Erin flipped the light switch and the two young witches were enveloped in a blanket of darkness.
(a/n: So whadda ya think? Potential? I know its a work in progress, But we've all gotta start somewhere. ^_^ I reallllly look forward to the reviews, I hope if you took the time reading this, then you'll give me your two cents worth of Constructive Criticism! Come back soon and I'll have the next chapter up and maybe some of your questions will be answered.... (ohhhhh!) Mommantai, ~BM)