Chapter Three: A Trip to Hogsmeade

A stranger group had never been seen before at Hogwarts. Five fifth year students were making their way across the grounds towards the front doors. It was ever stranger to know that it was very out of character for one of the students to greet two new transfer students so sincerely. Cassy and Erin had a slight suspicion of this.

"So how long have you been racing broomsticks," Draco asked. To Cassy, he seemed overly enthusiastic. She felt a deep instinct inside her that for some reason, something wasn't right.

"Since I was eleven. I got interested in brooms when I started my wizarding school back in America."

"Have you ever played Quidditch before?"

"Actually, yes. Erin and I were both Chasers for our team last year."

"What a coincidence! I've been a seeker since I was a second year. I'm sure I'll make the team again this year, too." Cassy glanced quickly over at him. She couldn't believe he was being so forwardly conceded. Maybe it was her imagination, or because she was so nervous. She hoped not everyone would be like this, so hard to figure out. She gave him a quick smile and said;

"Erin and I were wondering, um, where Hogsmeade is." Cassy looked at Erin and nodded encouragingly. She really didn't want to hear any more about Draco's many talents.

"It's beyond the school a bit, but we'll still need a ride." Draco led them up to the entrance way of Hogwarts at last. "Wait here and I'll go and get the carriages."

He took his arm from the crook in Cassy's arm and headed to a group of well-dressed adults and carriages. Cassy moved closer to Erin.

"What is going on?" She asked.

"Oh, I don't know, looks like you've made friends," Erin answered demurely.

"Seriously, Erin!" Cassy giggled nervously. "Why is he ignoring you? I think it's rude."

"Well, he obviously likes you."

Cassy's ears turned pink.

"I don't know, I still think he should at least acknowledge you at least. And those two…" Cassy gave a side-long glance at the two heavy-set boys behind them still shouldering the girls trunks. Beneath their dull expressions, they were having a quiet conversation of their own. One of them grunted, which Cassy took for a laugh.

"Brrrr, they're kinda gross." Erin shuddered. Both girls giggled. Crabbe and Goyle looked up at them. The girls hurriedly adverted their glances.

"I hope not everyone else is like Draco." Cassy said in a whisper. "I really hope we can make some friends that aren't acting like total snobs."

"I don't think he's so much of a snob as he's false."

Cassy's eyes lit up.

"That's it!" She said. "That's the word to describe him. Its like he's not being himself."

Both girls turned their gaze to Draco. As soon as they did so, he and man with long hair the color of Draco's quickly turned their heads and went back to their own conversation. They had been staring at the girls.

"Oh my gosh. That was really weird." Cassy fingered the edge of her robes nervously, trying to get over her feeling of paranoia.

"Do you think they're related?"

"They gotta be." Cassy said incredulously. "Did you see their hair?"

"Yeah, but why is he here?"

"I dunno, maybe they drove here together."

"You've been spending way too much time with muggles, Kibbons." Erin looked at her jokingly.

"Oh right." Cassy realized her mistake. "Hey, look, he's coming back."

Draco had finished his conversation with the man, and was riding towards them in a carriage. The carriage was magical, moving along without the help from horses.

"Okay, look, Cassy. When we get to Hogsmeade, we'll ditch him. Just ignore the way he treats me, that jerk." Erin added the last part with a little sneer. Cassy giggled.

"I don't think-" Cassy had to cut herself off because Draco was now in earshot. She wanted to tell Erin what she really thought of him.

The girls stepped back to let Draco steer up to where they were standing. He stopped and opened the door for them. He held out his hand for Cassy to help herself into the carriage. After she had sat down on the cushioned seats, she saw Erin had already helped herself into the carriage. She couldn't tell if Draco had tried to help her or if he completely ignored her.

"Um," Cassy started, noticing their trunks were still outside with Crabbe and Goyle.

Draco stuck his head out the window and said something to the boys that Cassy couldn't hear. She heard the trunks being set in the back of the carriage. She looked at Erin and Erin raised her eyebrows in a 'lets see how this goes' gesture. Cassy settled uneasily back into her seat.

The carriage started off with the flick of the reigns by Draco and he sat in the seat across from the girls. The short ride to Hogsmeade was uneventful, with Draco and Cassy doing most of the talking, Erin being mostly silent and Cassy carefully choosing her words. She hoped that her personality wouldn't grow on Draco.

A sudden jolt of the carriage interrupted Cassy's sentence on Quidditch in America. She looked out the window to see they were in a stable with many other horse-less carriages. Cassy thought it was funny that they kept them in stables even though they didn't have horses. Draco got up from his seat and opened the door for the girls. He helped Cassy down first, and from behind Draco's back, she giggled silently as Erin held out her hand for Draco to help her. Crabbe and Goyle jumped off the back of the carriage and got their trunks again.

Draco led the way out of the stables and onto a street where many people were moving. Cassy hadn't seen a wizarding village like this before in her life. There were many shops of different purposes, and Cassy marveled at all the people in full wizard attire. Erin was right; she did spend way too much time with muggles.

Her stomach growled, and she looked at her watch. Her watch said 10:12. She looked up, confused.

"Erin," she said. "Do you know what time it is?"

"Around twelve forty-five," she replied, her elven instincts coming in use. Cassy remembered that the powerful magic surrounding Hogwarts interrupted the flow of electricity.

"Um, Draco, do you think we could stop to have some lunch?"

"Sure, I know just the place." He took her arm again and they fell in step walking together down the street. Erin jogged up by her other side.

Cassy didn't know where to look, there were so many new sights and sounds that were interesting. She saw that many people turned their heads to look at them. She felt a tingle go up her spine; she kind of liked the attention. Until they rounded a street corner, when she saw a group of girls scowl at them. Cassy didn't know how to react, she hadn't done anything to them. Draco interrupted her thoughts. He shouted to a group of about ten kids standing near a tiny inn called the Three Broomsticks.

"Hey!"

The group turned and welcomed him as he left Cassy's side. Crabbe and Goyle walked past them and joined them.

"They look kind of mean," whispered Erin.

"Yeah, and scary," agreed Cassy. None of them smiled often, and when one of them did, they seemed like they were baring their teeth.

Draco turned as if he heard this, but he ushered them into the circle. Cassy felt his arm slip around her waist, and she tried to ignore the little snort Erin made.

"These," he said, "are my transfer student friends from America."

Cassy felt as if she was on display. She tried to cover anyway by saying,

"My name's Cassy Kibbons, and I'm really excited to be here."

"Erin Loalia."

They took turns shaking hands with Draco's friends. Draco introduced his friends to them, all of them giving the girls interested looks. Draco started;

"Well, we were going to get some lunch, want to come along?"

All of his friends agreed, and Draco led the way inside. Within the tiny inn was a cozy front room with little tables and many people talking and eating. Draco's friends sat down in a corner by an empty fireplace and Cassy and Erin moved into a booth saved by Draco. Cassy sat down next to Draco, and Erin sat on the end. Crabbe and Goyle sat across from them, along with a couple of other kids. Their trunks were on the floor. Before they could start a conversation, a woman with a messy apron on came over to their table. She smiled warmly and said,

"Good afternoon! My name is Madame Rosmerta, and what will the young masters be having today?"

She went around the table taking orders, and when she got to the girls, they ordered the same things; roast chicken and mashed potatoes. When she heard their American accents, she said,

"Would you two happen to be the American transfer students from CAWW?"

Cassy nodded.

"I have a message from Professor McGonagall, she's expecting you two to meet her upstairs in room six at four-thirty for a brief meeting, alright?"

"Yes, thank you." Cassy smiled.

"Also, your trunks will be taken upstairs for you. I'll be back soon with your lunch." She walked off to the next table for their orders.

"Do you know what that meetings' for?" Draco asked.

"I have no idea, probably to fill in us transfer students about classes and stuff."

"Oh." Draco gave a swift glance at Cassy's glove. Cassy wasn't sure what the expression on his face was supposed to mean.

"So," he continued. "How did you get here this morning?" The kids across the table turned their attention them.

"Well, we Group Apparated this morning from Erin's house, in Ohio. We were supposed to get to Hogwarts, but the conductor dropped us off at the wrong spot, so we just flew the rest of the way. And you guys, don't most students usually ride the Hogwarts Express?" Cassy wanted to see how impressed they would be by her knowledge. They completely ignored it or didn't even notice. Crabbe finally spoke;

"Yeah, but Malfoy's dad rented out a private train for us."

Cassy tried not to register the surprise she felt on her face. This kids family must be loaded, she thought. Draco carelessly said next;

"Didn't your parents come with you?"

Cassy stopped, her mouth half open. She didn't feel like explaining her life story to a bunch of people she still felt uncomfortable around. Two house elves came up to their table and silently carried their trunks to a set of stairs in the back of the stairs. Erin broke the silence saying,

"No."

Draco leaned forward a little so he could see her better. He said almost slyly,

"Right. And your parents, were they both, wizards?"

"Cassy and I are both purebloods." Erin's eyes narrowed and she flicked her bangs out of her face. Both of them were staring each other down, and Cassy was stuck in between them. The Cassy cleared her throat and said,

"So what houses are all of you in?"

"We're all Slytherins." The girl named Blaize Zabini answered. "You should think about becoming one."

"I thought that the Sorting Hat chose for you?"

"Yeah, but that's all a hoax. Everybody knows that you get in whatever you really want."

"Oh." Cassy really doubted that, although Hogwart: A History was probably really outdated.

Madame Rosmerta bustled up with a large tray with their orders, and for the next thirty minutes, Cassy and Erin sat there mostly silent listening to the conversation around them. They weren't exactly comfortable sitting with them, and they received a bunch of stares from people sitting at other tables. They doubted that the Slytherin bunch were very popular at Hogwarts.

When Cassy and Erin had finished their lunches and were full of the good food, Cassy turned to Draco and said,

"Draco, Erin and I wanted to go and look around a little bit if that's alright with you."

"Yeah, sure." He saw Cassy start to pull out her money purse and said,

"Oh, don't worry, I'll pay for you two."

Cassy looked up in surprise.

"Well thank you very much."

"No problem. I'll see you around."

"'Kay. Bye." Cassy and Erin slid out of the booth together and made their way through the crowded inn to the front door. Erin whispered,

"What is up with him?"

"I dunno," Cassy said. She looked over her shoulder and saw Draco watching them from where he was sitting. Cassy giggled. He gave a little wave and turned back to his conversation.

"Please tell me I'm a moron." Cassy slapped her head when they had exited the door. She hadn't meant to be such a flirt. Now it would probably take months to get him off her tail.

"It's not your problem, it's his." Erin said stone faced. The girls walked aimlessly through the streets.

"He was a jerk to you. I can't deny that."

"Understatement."

"No kidding."

"But if you like him, whatever."

"Erin, you know I can't like him when he doesn't even respect you. I don't even know why he's so interested in me when you've got all the looks."

"Shut up. You're getting off the topic." Erin shoved Cassy playfully. Cassy laughed.

"You shut up, you snob! Talk about getting off topic!"

"Hey look!" Erin pointed. Cassy saw what she had seen; a clothes store called Gladrags Wizardwear.

"I'm there," said Cassy.

The girls spent the next few hours shopping around the small town. They were pretty sure they had seen everything by the time four-thirty rolled around. Cassy and Erin entered the Three Broomsticks again with their shopping bags and saw Madame Rosmerta. She smiled at them and said;

"You'd better hurry, Professor McGonagall is already up there."

The girls simultaneously shot each other worried looks, and Cassy shouted a quick thanks as they hurried up the stairs. They reached the second floor, and counted the doors until they reached the sixth. Erin knocked with her free hand.

"Come in please," warbled a voice.

Erin turned the knob, and they entered to a room with a prim woman sitting in a chair and a huge man in a large overcoat almost breaking the couch he was sitting on. Cassy was even more surprised when he doubled in height standing up to greet them. The woman shook both their hands, and said,

"My name is Professor McGonagall, and I am so very pleased to have you here at Hogwarts. And this is the sub-director of Admissions," she nodded to the man.

"My name's Hagrid, hello, nice to have you here!"

They shook hands with the gigantic man, their hands completely disappearing into his. They introduced themselves. The Professor smiled and said'

"Please sit down."

The girls dropped their stuff down next to their trunks and sat on the edge of the bed. Professor McGonagall and Hagrid resumed their seats.

"As you both know, you are being accepted to Hogwarts under very special conditions." The Professor looked at Cassy very seriously. "Your formal principal has informed me that one of the reasons of the closing of CAWW was the result of a prank."

Cassy and Erin looked at each other. Cassy wondered if Hogwarts was sending them back to America. She hoped not.

"May I see your hand."

Cassy unbuckled her glove and pulled it off. She heard the couch that Hagrid was sitting on squeal as he leaned forward. The fire blazed with its usual intensity as she held it out for the Professor. She examined it carefully.

"Hmmm, a very powerful curse indeed. And you've had this for how long?"

"Before my first birthday, the same night the death-eaters murdered my parents."

The Professor sat back into her chair. Her eyebrows furrowed in thought.

"Very curious." She looked at Hagrid. "I wonder why…" She left off her sentence. Cassy wrung her hands together with uneasiness.

"You're going to have to be very careful here." Hagrid spoke up. "We just want you and other students to stay safe."

"Yes, and we will be trying to cure it if we can, so you will have regular check-ups with Madame Pomfrey, our very experience nurse at Hogwarts. And with that, we have informed all teachers and staff, so no complications will hopefully turn out." She smiled at the girls. Cassy pulled back on her glove and fastened it.

"I do hope you hope you girls have a wonderful year at Hogwarts, we will see you tonight."

Professor McGonagall and Hagrid got up to leave. The girls stood up too.

"The train should be pulling in any minute now, so it would be best to change into your robes now," the Professor said.

"Thank you," Cassy said. Erin nodded politely.

The two teachers left, and Cassy and Erin stood in the room alone. As soon as they heard the footsteps fade down the hall, they both let out a huge sigh of relief.

"Merlin, I thought she was gonna sent us back to America!"

"Me too!" Cassy exclaimed. "And did you see how huge Hagrid was?"

"And the expression on the Professor's face when you told her about the curse?"

"Yeah, I wonder if everyone here is like this, 'ohh, fire,' its gonna get old."

"Just like at CAWW, people will forget about it soon enough when they find out."

"Well, lets hope that its not like CAWW," Cassy raised her eyebrows.

"You know what I mean." Erin pulled her trunk to the side of the bed and opened it, searching for the compartment where she stuffed her robes this morning. Cassy did the same, pulling the keys from one of her pockets.

"Erin, check out what I did to my jumper," Cassy pulled out one of her school jumpers. The day before, she had hemmed the bottom of it so it was a good foot shorter than when she had received it by owl.

"No fair! Mom wouldn't let me touch mine!"

"Well, your moms' not around now, is she?" Cassy giggled mischievously. "And we've got to make good first impressions, don't we?"

"But how are we gonna shorten it in fifteen minutes?" Erin looked at helplessly at her plain gray jumper.

"Well," said Cassy as she took out her wand. "I suppose its close enough to the start of term that we could do a little magic…"

"Fire away!" Erin tossed her jumper at Cassy, and she caught it.

The next ten minutes the girls spent re-designing their uniforms, taking out the bibs on the jumper, and the sleeves of their sweaters ('Do you know how hot it's going to get in the summer? Plus we can always put them back on when it gets cold!'). They finally ran out the doors of the Three Broomsticks with their trunks in full Hogwarts uniform, giving a hurried thanks to Madame Rosmerta and hoping everyone else hadn't already left.